One of the scariest things you have to figure out when starting your business is how to charge for your event planning services. It’s terrifying!
When I started Reinventing Events, I had no clue on what to charge for our services. I didn’t want to charge too much, or too little, and wasn’t sure about structure. I did research and found suggestions for charging hourly, having 50% paid up front and 50% after the event and doing a percentage of the entire budget. All of that was great to learn about, but the truth is, how you price your event planning services boils down to one thing.
What are your event planning services worth?
There are two sides to consider when answering this question:
- What value do you bring to the table?
- What stress do you alleviate from your client?
Let’s dive a bit deeper into those two questions, shall we?
What value do you bring to the table?
There are a lot of people out there who call themselves event planners, but they don’t have good education or experience. Event planning is more than just checking off a list and carrying a clipboard around during the event. There are so many aspects to event planning that your client most likely has no idea about and it’s your job to help them understand all of the items involved in running an event.
A client may think all they need to do for a launch party is book a bar and put up a free ticket page, which they can. But the details they most likely aren’t thinking about are the minimum F&B guarantee needed, security for the event, who will check people in, is it an open bar or limited, is there any branding or signage needed, is there a microphone…just to name a few. And let’s talk about the shock at the end of the night when the client gets a bill for MORE than what the F&B guarantee is! Oh–did they not realize there’s tax, a service charge, and possibly automatic gratuity added onto the minimum? OUCH!
Even the easiest event involves so much more than someone may think and this is where you can shine. Think about the value you bring to the table through your education and experience.
What stress do you alleviate from your client?
The second question is just as important, and maybe even a bigger selling point for you! I’ve had clients tell me on our first call, “Registration is really easy. We can handle that so don’t worry about including it in the scope of services.” While registration management may be ‘easy’, it’s VERY time-consuming, especially right before the event when other details need more focus. For events, we have one person dedicated to registration management which allows for quick replies to attendees, thus creating a great customer service experience for them. There are requests for refunds, invoices, name changes, updates to company names or titles, and general questions that come in from attendees. Does your client REALLY want to be bothered with that? The answer is most likely no.
So what should your client be focused on for an event? They should be focused on the 3 things you shouldn’t include in your scope of services when doing full production for an event: selecting speakers, selling sponsorships and guaranteeing butts in seats, or ticket sales.
You can definitely include in your scope that you support speaker management, sponsor management, and registration or ticketing management. So why shouldn’t you include those? For the same reason the client should be focused on them.
- The content delivered from the stage should be relevant for the audience. I’m not an expert on sales and marketing, technology, virtual reality, medical apps, or any of the other industries we’ve done events in so why would I offer services to select speakers for those events? Your client most likely knows who they want to speak anyways. We can always work with clients on how to extend the invite to a speaker so it sets the tone for the event (you don’t want a speaker who gives a 30-min commercial or pitch to the audience!), and all of the items around speaker management once a speaker has agreed to speak, including sending speaker agreements, assisting with travel arrangements, sending calendar invites for their speaking time, etc.
- Some clients are looking for a company who can sell sponsorships, but we don’t do that. We have lots of clients in the same industry and could paint ourselves into a corner if we tried to sell sponsorships to different companies, thus causing competition between our clients. Not cool! Your client has a better idea of what companies should be sponsoring and getting in front of the event audience. Again, we can work with a client on creating the sponsorship prospectus, setting pricing structures and benefits, and how to pitch to potential sponsors, but we don’t do the actual sale. That’s on the client. Once a sponsor has agreed, we’re ready to step in to send sponsor agreements and invoices and be the main point of contact for anything they might need leading up to the event and onsite.
- Promising ticket sales, or butts in seats, can put you in a sticky situation of bringing in revenue. Usually, clients have an idea of who they are marketing to for the event, either their current database or through other avenues in order to sell tickets. We’re always happy to promote and share about the events we’re doing if it makes sense, but I won’t guarantee selling tickets. We can work with the client on a marketing plan and offer suggestions for things they could try. We’ve also worked with clients on purchasing marketing lists to send information about the event to, but the client covered that cost. A favorite tip is to offer an extra ticket for your VIPs to bring someone from outside of their company as their guest. It’s a great way to get vetted attendees and a great perk for your VIPs!
I hope this helps you with thinking about how to approach pricing your services. You can also download 5 Tips to Pricing Your Event Planning Services for more insight on how to price your services just right!
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