The special events industry has grown enormously in the past decade. According to recent research conducted by Dr. Joe Goldblatt, CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional), spending for special events worldwide is $500 billion annually. Goldblatt is the founder of International Special Events Society (ISES), the founding director of the Event Management Program at George Washington University, and co-author of The International Dictionary of Event Management. "Suffice it to say, the marketplace is large enough to support and sustain your endeavor," says Goldblatt. "If you're working in one special events area, there are many directions in which you can expand. If you're just entering the profession of special events, there's a lucrative market awaiting you on many fronts."
According to Goldblatt's research, profits in this industry continue to rise. Just a few years ago, Goldblatt says, the average profit margin for an event planning entrepreneur was around 15 percent. His most recent studies, however, show profit margins can be as much as 40 percent. He attributes the industry's good health to several factors, including the improved economy and the trend of corporate America to outsource their meeting-planning functions.
This question actually breaks down into two questions: What kinds of events are we talking about? And, what is event planning?
First things first. Generally speaking, special events occur for the following purposes:
This list isn't an exhaustive one, but as the examples illustrate, special events may be business related, purely social or somewhere in between.
Now we move to the second question: What is event planning? Planners of an event may handle any or all of the following tasks related to that event:
How many of these activities your business engages in will depend on the size and type of a particular event, which will, in turn, depend on the specialization you choose.
This question has a simple answer: Individuals often find they lack the expertise and time to plan events themselves. Independent planners can step in and give these special events the attention they deserve.
Planners are often people who got their start in one particular aspect of special events. Business owner Martin Van Keken had a successful catering company before he decided to plan entire events. Many other planners have similar stories. This explains why planners often not only coordinate entire events but may, in addition, provide one or more services for those events.
Event planners may also have started out planning events for other companies before deciding to go into business for themselves. Joyce Barnes-Wolff planned in-house events for a retail chain for 11 years and then worked for another event planning company before striking out on her own.
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Broadly speaking, there are two markets for event planning services: corporate and social. The term "corporate" includes not only companies but also charities and nonprofit organizations. Charities and nonprofit organizations host gala fundraisers, receptions and athletic competitions, among other events, to expand their public support base and raise funds. Thousands of these events occur each year, and although the large ones require specialized event planning experience, you may find smaller local events to start out with.
Companies host trade shows, conventions, company picnics, holiday parties, and meetings for staff members, board members, or stockholders. There is a huge market for these types of events. According to the Convention Industry Council’s 2012 Economic Significance Study, 1.83 million corporate/business meetings, trade shows, conventions, etc. took place in the U.S. alone.
Social events include weddings, birthdays, anniversary parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, Sweet 16 parties, children's parties, reunions and so on. You may decide to handle all these events or just specialize in one or more of them.
The market for social events, especially birthdays and anniversaries, is expected to continue to increase over the next few years, as baby boomers mature. This group has children getting married, parents celebrating golden anniversaries, and their own silver wedding anniversaries to commemorate.
How much money will you need to start your event planning business? That will depend on the cost of living in the area your business serves and whether you work from home or rent office space. It will also depend, to a lesser degree, on your own taste and lifestyle choices.
Keep in mind that while working from home will keep your costs low, you can't start any but the smallest of event planning business on a shoestring. Source