Here’s What Makes a Great Party Planner

    Some things are best left to the professionals — oftentimes, that includes planning events. While it’s certainly possible to DIY a great soiree, hiring a professional party planner ensures you can put on a successful event and actually enjoy it, too.

    So, how do you know what qualities to look for in your perfect event planner? Look no further: We’ve done the research and talked to experts. Read on to see what we found out.

    They love people
    While every party planner should have a good amount of event experience, no amount of mastery can compensate if the person isn’t pleasant to work with. Eventbrite’s Ronnie Higgins reminds event planners in a recent blog post that their people skills should be number one. He explains that to successfully work with a wide range of people, a planner needs to be able to quickly resolve conflicts, be a confident but pleasant negotiator, and have a sense of humor.

    The right party planner is a perfect blend of warmth and professionalism. They should be willing and able to accommodate all types of clients and seem genuinely delighted to do so. If you sense that your potential planner isn’t particularly friendly or a fan of people, move on. 

    They’re organized
    Let's face it: Party planners are often so crucial because there’s just so much planning to do! Even if you're naturally organized and a master of systems and checklists, a great planner should have processes in place that top even your best DIY ideas.

    Ask them a bit about what they do to stay on top of all their work. While they don’t have to show you their personal templates, reports, or spreadsheets, they should be able to give you some background on their method of organization. 

    Do they have a unique way of wrangling vendors? Do they vow to check in with caterers regularly? Ask questions about their workflow so you know they’re intentional about how they handle all the moving parts. The last thing you need is a planner that prefers to wing it.

    They track stats and data
    Did you know that event planning software and analytics tools are a big market for event planning professionals? Many of today's top planners use some form of data products to keep them on budget and on time. 

    They also often use these tools to provide them with precious performance stats so they can tell you how everything went. While you don't necessarily need to know the nitty gritty of how this is done (or what tools they use), it’s a great dose of transparency.

    They take their work seriously
    Even if you find out about a party planner from a referral or mutual friend, it’s wise to take the time to research their business and ensure they do things like a professional. Start with their website or social media platforms to see how they communicate. Look to see that they have more than one way to reach them. Can you call? What about text or email? 

    You may also want to check any online reviews for the planner if they’re big enough to have them. Not all of the best planners will have reviews, and that’s OK. Remember that a bad review or two isn’t necessarily accurate or representative of their work as a whole. Seek out a broad range of reviews or comments, and take them as a collective account of how they’ve done business in the past. 

    They can provide references
    More than just online reviews, a seasoned event planner will likely have references who can speak to their work. To take things a step further, it might also be helpful to ask if they have references that aren't just former clients. 

    Venues or caterers, for example, could add some depth to their history that shows how easy they are to work with or their communication style. Whether the planner offers references as part of their proposal or you ask for them directly, they shouldn't balk at the idea of third-party testimonies that you can confirm with the sources personally.

    They have connections
    Doug Quattrini, CPCE (Certified Professional in Catering and Events), stresses that event planners need good relationships with their venues. He lays out rules for keeping close ties with the locales that will be hosting future parties, and recommends party planners ask themselves, “How often do I really communicate with each of my venue owners?”

    When looking for the right party planner, be aware of the value of networking. A connected planner will work seamlessly with their venues and vendors to help take your party to the next level. This benefits you in many ways, from getting a good deal on your party to ensuring that service of the highest caliber. 

    They stay calm (and keep you calm, too)
    There may be few things more stressful than putting on a big event. While the planner is likely to hit their fair share of snags during the journey from hiring to party time, it’s imperative that they can stay cool, calm and collected — especially in front of guests.

    Part of their job, ideally, is to be a buffer from the drama and mayhem that happens behind the scenes with caterers, venues, and event attendees. That’s why you hired a pro, after all. 

    Whether you’re calling up your first party planner prospect or you’ve got a stack of proposals on your desk to read through, these characteristics are common traits possessed by many of the best in the events business. Party on!