8 Event Planning Tips We’ve Learned in 2019

8 Event Planning Tips We’ve Learned in 2019

Throughout 2019, we have interviewed some event planning experts at Marriott’s Asia Pacific properties, who have been kind enough to give us a glimpse of their everyday work and shed light on what it takes to succeed in the event planning industry. Here are 8 tips we’ve learned from our event planners in 2019.


Tip #1 Client Expectations Management

Celebration dinner at Shanghai Marriott Hotel Parkview
Outdoor events are prone to unexpected weather conditions even with the most precise forecast
Instead of an outdoor yoga session, W Taipei held an indoor yoga break at the hotel’s bar

There are times we have little choice but to reject a client’s request or lower the expectations, although as event planners, we put in the best effort to work our way around obstacles. It could be due to budget constraints, technical limitations or uncontrollable factors such as weather conditions. Outdoor events are prone to unexpected weather conditions, having a contingency plan or “weatherproofing” your event will minimize disappointment and damages. 

It is best to be open and honest with the client about what is do-able and what is not, to set realistic expectations. Politely inform the client when special requests are done out of understanding or as a favor, this will serve as a reminder the act is out of the ordinary scope and can also build trust knowing you are willing to go the extra mile for them.


Tip #2  Communication

Communicate with both internal and external parties to ensure ideas and plans can be carried out smoothly
Identify the priorities and essentials of the event, be it unique menus, special entertainment or other requests
Be precise when briefing the team on venue setup to make sure every member of staff is clear about the standards
Find out technical requirements early on allows for better planning and pre-event testings

Communication is crucial in an event planner’s dictionary. Organizing events is teamwork regardless of the size and scale of the event. You will be undoubtedly working with people you may or may not know. Whether it is between you and the client or other internal and external partiesー technicians, performers, suppliers, etc., having effective communication skills will help ensure the event plan is smoothly executed. 

Ask your clients about how they envision their event and find out what’s important to them. Whether it is innovative food options or specific audiovisual requirements, work with your client to identify the different components and priorities of the event. Brief your teams and partners on the day’s workflow, rundown, and setup specifications prior to the event and be consistent and precise about your standards. By taking the opportunity to answer any questions the team may have before the event keeps time spent dealing with internal communications due to misunderstandings or confusion at the event to a minimum.


Tip #3  Think Outside the Box

An indoor beach at W Guangzhou
Tennis-inspired coffee break catering at Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa
A golf driving range recreated in a hotel ballroom at the Manila Marriott Hotel
Event setup inspired by old Hong Kong life at Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers
Food trucks can be an alternative to replace standard buffet food stations

Creativity plays a vital role in planning events of all sizes and nature. It doesn’t matter if the event is a small and intimate occasion or a multi-day MICE event; there are ways to spice it up. Bring the outdoors in and the indoors out, or maybe turn back time for a wow factor! 

Think one step further by incorporating the event theme into all aspects of the eventー event invitations, themed catering, unique venues, props and decorationsー the possibilities are endless! When working with a limited budget, try thinking outside the box for alternative solutions. Floral centerpieces and decorations are costly, perhaps switch it out for edible displays made from vegetables and fruits! 


Tip #4  Stay Organized

Utilize online and mobile event management systems to effectively manage project timeline
Find a way to organize your event ideas during the planning stage

Event planning 101: Organization skills.

As one of our event planners put it, one must have an eye of an eagle and be able to oversee every aspect of the event, meaning you will likely find hundreds of tasks on your plate. Finding a way to stay organized and stay on top of what is happening is of utmost importance.

Event inspiration can come from every direction and so are changes of plan, requirements, manpower, find a way to record your ideas, projects and tasks so they will not just slip off your mind. Create organization charts, seating plans, floor plans, rundown and duty lists for easier communication with internal parties and suppliers. Make use of online tasks management systems and checklists to ensure the project stays on track.


Tip #5  Personalization

Event invitations and souvenirs are easy to personalize by adding names or customized messages
Customized cocktails for your guests with a made-to-order cocktail bar
Lettering service at Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers
Engage event attendees with hands-on experiences such as DIY food options

When we asked our planners about the trends they have noticed in 2019, we received a unanimous replyーpersonalization. A trend not to be missed in the event and meeting industry as we are now in an era where consumers are shifting more of their focus on the event experience. By adding warm, personal touches into an event, it can create long lasting and shareable memories for the event attendees, which in turn, can convert to good reputation and returning customers.

From DIY food stations to live kitchens, customized decorations to lettering services, personalization can come in many forms. Explore the possibilities and options available in local areas, and you might be surprised by the variety you can find!


Tip #6  Never Stop Learning

Attend event management workshops to expand your network and learn the latest trends
Summit held at the Astor Ballroom in St. Regis Shanghai Jingan

You can teach an old dog new tricks! In this constantly progressing and evolving industry, whether you are a rookie event planner or have been working in the industry for decades, it is always a good time to refresh your skillset and learn about new market trends. Attend training sessions, seminars, conferences or even an exchange program to pick up new skills and exchange knowledge and ideas. It can also be a fantastic opportunity to expand your professional network. 

Besides, some planners work with a diverse client base from various industries, keeping up with the trends of the client’s industry and current happenings will allow a better understanding of their event needs and give solid advice.


Tip #7  Have An Eye For Details

Grab-and-go sandwich bar can facilitate a more social atmosphere
Be ready to roll up your sleeve and get down to work on the event day
Work with the catering team on tailored menus to address special dietary requirements

Expect to get hands-on on every aspect of the event and attend to even the smallest detail, from table setup to special dietary requirements. Make every attendee feel welcomed and well-taken care of by catering to individual needs; find out about food allergies and intolerance so you can have the catering team tailor menus for particular guests. 

Part of the job as an event planner is to assist the organizers in spotting any missing or lacking elements. Take the event purpose or goals into account and plan around the objectives. For instance, when planning a business networking event, think of ways to maximize interactions between your guests, create an environment that nurtures conversations. Why not opt for a grab-and-go snacks bar over a seated arrangement so your guests can walk around freely, conversing with and meeting other attendees.


Tip #8  Passion

Be passionate about your role as an event planner
Showcase and share your love for local cultures with your event guests
Be ready to take on challenges big or small

Almost all our event planners told us having a passion for events is the key to success. Why? Because event planning can be a physically and mentally demanding job full of unpredictability, challenges, frustrations, high expectations and has little room for errors. If you are passionate about bringing unforgettable and unique moments to life and like taking on challenges with determination, you are in a great position!

Event planners get to meet guests from around the world and all walks of life, if you are passionate about sharing your culture like some of our event planners, why not incorporate local elements into your next event and educate your guests about it?


Read more tips and career stories from our event planner interview series:



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