"It doesn't matter the size of the event, planning is essential."
Jeffrey Reich-Hale should know. The Houston-based independent consultant has 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry. From arranging five-person corporate meetings to coordinating quinceaeras, weddings, trade shows, hotel grand openings, and everything in between, Reich-Hale knows his stuff.
Now he brings his experience to the table serving on the Continuing and Professional Development Lifelong Learning Education and Camp Advisory Committee. He helps develop leisure and credit learning opportunities at San Jacinto College for the community.
Reich-Hale shares how he has pulled off successful events and you can too:
Q: What's your best advice for someone just getting into event planning?
A: I learned a lot from great mentors and teachers, so the mistakes were few and far between. I like to pay attention to details.
Ask questions. I was never that person who was afraid to ask in the beginning. The right teacher or boss will not mind.
Q: You say it takes three C's to plan a successful event. What does create involve?
A: What's the event? Everybody has a theme, even with a corporate event. But make sure the theme is manageable. Run your idea by other people in your organization or group to know you'll have their support. A casino night and the Roaring Twenties are two different things completely.
Make sure you have access to everything you'll need to pull it off. You might want to have several theme ideas because one theme might not be cost-effective. Do we even have a budget for that? Is anyone going to want to pay the ticket price?
Q: How about coordinate?
A: Once you create the idea, you have to find the venue, entertainment, food. Sometimes the venue itself might not do the food. Then you want to coordinate the invitations — printing them or creating an online invite. Get everything in writing with every vendor you're using. If they don't want to do an agreement or contract, drop them. Otherwise, you'll be scrambling if they drop you at the last minute because they got a better offer.
Q: Finally, control — what does that look like?
A: The control comes down to one person controlling every detail that is happening, reviewing everything and how it's going to flow. If you want to enjoy the event yourself, you might have someone else making sure all the details you've worked on are under control. That person has the capability of getting it back on track if something goes wrong.
If it's a large event, have them involved right at the onset of booking that event. If it's a small event without a big budget, have a planning committee to help pull off the day of. One's assigned this task, and another is assigned that task.
Q: What personality traits does an event planner need?
A: You can't be a wallflower — you have to be outgoing, know when to be "on." You have to step up when an emergency happens and know what to do. If this goes wrong, what would I do? Think through the "what if" scenarios ahead of time.
Q: What challenges does COVID-19 present for event planning right now?
A: Here it's a different story than in New York and other states. It's more open in Texas. I've been to events already, and there are no restrictions, other than staff at the venue wearing masks. You might want to ask that of the venue. Some want people to wear masks and spread tables a certain number of feet apart.
Q: What makes event planning fun for you?
A: There's nothing more fun than seeing an event pulled off successfully. It's even kind of exciting to fix a flub. It's knowing it's a job well done that you did — that everyone had a good time.
Q: FInal thoughts?
A: Being organized is extremely important. You can't do an event haphazardly.
The Three C's for a Successful Event
Planning a classmate reunion, family celebration, or some other event, large or small? Get tips to pull it off with Jeffrey Reich-Hale's free workshop:
*Although this event is free, seating is limited. Register early to reserve your seat!