5 Habits of Highly Effective Event Planners

You’ve likely read or are familiar with Steven Covey’s famed The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. We thought we would apply his approach to show organizers, to highlight the “true north” characteristics that define the leaders in the field. As the trade show software provider for hundreds of events annually, Data Connect collaborates with many talented event planners. Even with such a stacked deck, some individuals stand out for their uniquely successful approach to managing their shows. These individuals are committed to marching to their own drum. They are dedicated to employing new strategies and tactics that set them apart from their competitors and provide the most ideal selling environment for customers and exhibitors.  

Event planners with profitable, must-attend shows are:        

1. Holistic, Big-Picture Thinkers                                 

Successful show organizers don’t think of an event as a marketing endeavor. They see how it impacts each department in the company, and involve stakeholders accordingly. These show planners work in tandem with their sales departments to devise a comprehensive pre-show, show day, and post-show strategy that addresses existing sales and drives additional revenue. This may mean incentivizing sales reps to pre-order and target items for customers online, staging a contest at the show that awards reps with the highest sales volume, and then following up after the show with a sales-facing virtual event to retain new business.   

Understanding reporting requirements is absolutely essential for successful event planners, which is why they engage their IT departments at the start of their planning process. This ensures that data is delivered in a format that can be easily uploaded into a backend system, and that it can be used to manage any promotions or contests being run over the course of a show’s lifecycle.

2. Willing to Experiment

Creativity is what separates an average show from a great show; one that creates buzz, generates new sales opportunities, and excites attendees. The best show organizers come to the table with better ways to tackle existing processes, and new ideas to drive better returns. They might suggest how to make registration more efficient, ways to personalize the show experience for attendees, or concepts to engage buyers in show specials and promotions. Even if something seems like a pie-in-the-sky idea, they work to see it realized, more often than not with great results. Our trade show software incorporating features like Hot Deals and Attendee Flight Boards, Prize Redemption, and Ticket Printing is due to forward-thinking event planners like these.

3. Organized Multi-Taskers

As anyone with event planning experience knows, there are a million and one details that go into organizing a show. Booth rental, electrical contracts, fire codes, pre-show packets, and childcare are just a few of the myriad areas that have to be addressed before an attendee steps foot on the show floor. The most successful event planners don’t just wing it. They have a defined set of objectives outlined chronologically, and work methodically until all requirements are met, like an actor reading from scene-to-scene a through a script.

Paradoxically, fulfilling this rigid set of objectives requires show organizers to be flexible.  Inevitably, something will arise that had not been planned for. The most effective organizers can think on their feet, and are often able to turn a challenge into an opportunity for a fresh approach. Everything becomes a learning experience and helps to inform their strategy for future events.

Perhaps most importantly, beyond knowing what has to be done in preparation for a show, great event planners know why they’re doing it. They have clear goals in mind, such as reaching a particular sales number, closing a greater number of new case sales, or turning more prospects into customers. As such, their planning strategy is built in reverse based on the outcomes they intend to achieve.

4. Able to Dedicate Resources

Great shows do not happen in a vacuum. The best show organizers understand that it takes multiple people and areas of expertise to run a successful event. They have the support of their IT department, allowing easy access to the data that fuels show day ordering and marketing programs; they have staff to manage registration and to operate their information booth at the show; they have a second-in-command who can fill the gaps when they are not available. 

In a nutshell, you could say that successful event planners are empowered to make decisions.  They have the authority to make determinations without going through internal red tape, thus avoiding the delays and changes in direction that often result when decisions are made by committee.

5. Focused on Value

Great event professionals understand that cost is not proportional to success when it comes to executing a show. The best displays, catering, performers, and A/V technology do not ensure that an event will be profitable. On the other side of that coin, these professionals also know that the cost of a service is not always equal to its value. 

As a service provider, we regularly have the cost vs. value conversation with potential clients. Our role is to assure them that the ROI on our services is greater than their cost, sometimes doubling the revenue of an event over prior years (not to toot our own horn, or anything). Determining if and how the spend impacts the return is both an art and a science, and the best event planners know how to strike a perfect balance. 

So, how do your traits stack up?  Do you think we missed any important qualities in our list? Tell us in the comments!