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Making the Move from Weddings to Events

As an experienced wedding planner, you already know there are many benefits that go along with this exciting career choice. You set your own hours, maybe work from home, leverage your creativity, and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from helping create cherished memories. But one of the greatest, and most often overlooked, perks is a wedding planner's inherent ability to diversify. These perks, along with the skills and techniques you have acquired as a planner, are easily transferable to the corporate segment of planning and might just be your next big event.


DISCOVER YOUR TRANSFERABLE SKILLS
Even before you decided to become a professional wedding planner, you probably realized many of your core strengths included:
  • Superior communication skills 
  • Multi-tasking to the umpteenth power 
  • Budgeting, budgeting, and budgeting 
  • Negotiating 
  • Creative problem solving 
  • Event design and planning 
  • Diplomacy 
  • Natural rapport building
All of which, you use on a daily basis while meeting with clients, conducting site inspections, creating schedules, confirming vendors, and executing the hundreds of details required to pull off a seamless event. Whether that event is a wedding for 150 or a weeklong incentive trip, the core skills remain the same.

In addition to the talent required for successful event planning, the same personality traits are a bonus. These include: a calming presence, ability to work with different personalities, grace under pressure, a positive and professional demeanor, and the ability to create trust among clients and vendors. Sound like someone you know?

THE SEASONAL ADVANTAGE
In most regions of the country, the wedding market has a high and low season. Adding corporate business allows you to fill gaps in your calendar and afford a consistent revenue stream throughout the year. This same logic applies to your weekly lineup, as weddings typically take place on the weekend, while corporate events are usually Monday through Friday. 

Chances are high that you got into wedding planning because you are a creative at heart. And as such, you crave a work environment that is different. Perhaps the thought of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work makes you frantically start to reorganize your closet. Being able to work both wedding and corporate events gives you an opportunity to grow your skills and extend your learning. Additionally, you make new relationships while jump-starting those creative juices that inspired you to start planning in the first place. And if that isn't enough, consider that by working in both sectors you are strategically preparing for the unexpected. In the same way that diversification of a stock portfolio mitigates risk, diversification of your potential clientele can provide a financial safety net.

EXPLORE THE MARKET
When you are ready to advance your business, or are just looking for something different, one of the proven growth strategies to consider is market development. Defined as, “A strategic step taken by a company to develop the existing market rather than looking for a new market. The company looks for new buyers to pitch the product to a different segment of consumers in an effort to increase sales” (source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/definition/market-development). 

 

The hop over to the corporate planning might be easier than you think. After all, you've already built a solid, fundamental infrastructure.


Corporate events take place in almost any industry and may range from an intimate dinner party of 10 to a convention of 10,000. Just as the wedding market is comprised of different segments such as intimates, destination, and luxury, there are many opportunities to specialize within the corporate arena. These areas include:
  • Special events such as fundraisers, galas, product promotions, dinners 
  • Training: seminars, team building events, and workshops 
  • Meetings: conferences, corporate meetings, networking 
  • Recognition: Incentive trips and awards dinners 
If you are thinking about diversifying, start by familiarizing yourself with these different kinds of events, and discover what interests you. Take notice of trends and determine which area(s) will be most compatible with your transferable skills. Here are the similarities and differences between the wedding and corporate market—to help you get started:

SIMILARITIES
  • Organizational and interpersonal skills 
  • Exceptional communication skills (verbal and written)  
  • Need to troubleshoot on-site 
  • Extracting and interpreting client's vision 
  • Creating a vision when one wasn't given 
  • Day-of/multi-day event scheduling 
  • Creating a stress-free environment for  the client 
  • Making targeted vendor recommendations
DIFFERENCES
  • Corporate events are based on planned budgets 
  • Corporate events have a specific goal such as education, fundraising, recognition, etc. 
  • Weddings typically follow some sort of tradition; corporate events may be more undefined 
  • Corporate booking times are typically shorter 
  • Multiple sub-events can occur simultaneously 
  • Corporate events have the potential to host on a much larger scale
SOURCING CORPORATE CLIENTS
The hop over to the corporate planning might be easier than you think. After all, you've already built a solid, fundamental infrastructure. Thankfully, your processes and business practices concerning communication platform, contract negotiations, client presentations, and maintaining key vendor relationships still apply. Although you will need to make a few adjustments, it will be considerably easier than starting an entirely new business.
 
WANT CORPORATE BUSINESS? LOOK HERE 
  • Convention and visitor bureaus 
  • Business journals 
  • Industry networking associations 
  • Existing wedding clients that might be affiliated with larger companies 
  • Vendor relationships 
  • Larger local corporations with a need for the above-mentioned events 
GET STARTED WITH CLEAR FOCUS
Remember, just as with your wedding business, to build a successful corporate segment, you will need a clearly defined path. Purposefully, incorporate the elements of event planning that you love and focus on specific opportunities. Reframe your planning work experience and always think strategically about creating your future growth.

WPM JAN/FEB 2017 Issue
Rosena Usmani, Puff'n Stuff Catering, Orlando, Fla.