Five Essential Attributes of a Successful Event Planner

Five Essential Attributes of a Successful Event Planner

A successful event will present guests with a seamless and rewarding experience, from their first touchpoint at registration to their last farewell as they depart. The amount of pre-planning, coordination, and logistical gymnastics that are required to pull off a memorable experience, however, are invisible to nearly everyone and are the purview of the event planners. Endowed with specialized skills and abilities, a top-shelf event planner will be able to help their clients navigate this complex and multifaceted process – from the very first planning session to the organization, onsite execution, and follow-up.

Here are five essential attributes that are virtually woven into the DNA of JDC’s project managers.

Begin at the Beginning

A seasoned event planner will start by making sure they have a clear understanding of their client’s goals and objectives. This first step is key to lay the foundation for everything that follows and will help to eliminate the risk of pitfalls and miscommunications further down the line.

Understanding what role the client will play is critical and needs to be clearly defined. From content development to speaker and presenter bookings, sponsorships and specific requests – all these details can have a tremendous impact on the event if not laid out and accounted for right from the start.

Flexibility at the outset and through the entire process is essential, allowing the elements of design, planning, and execution to fall seamlessly into place and creating space to accommodate last-minute adjustments, unforeseen problems, and unexpected changes.

Know Your Audience and Your Client

Event planners know that a successful and memorable event experience happens when the audience is positively engaged and their preferences and interests are met. From the smallest logistical considerations to the biggest elements – including headline entertainment and networking activities that are aligned with the theme of the event – every detail plays a part in creating a captivating experience that will meet (and exceed) the client’s expectations.

By staying on the forefront of new technology and product developments, event planners can make timely recommendations to their clients that will enhance the overall experience and leave a lasting impression.

Draw a Map and Set the Course

Planning is, well, everything! The ability to draw out timelines, assign tasks, delegate responsibilities, and stay on top of all the details is key. No matter the size or complexity of an event, attention and exceptional organizational skills are paramount to success. A well-thought-out plan makes finding solutions for unexpected challenges less stressful and will include possible alternatives should they be necessary.

A skilled event planner will hold frequent meetings leading up to the event, to ensure key milestones and responsibilities are being met and everything is on target and on schedule. This also will help address any unforeseen changes and allow for adjustments if necessary. Onsite, they will conduct a pre-event run-through and daily meetings with staff, venue, and vendors to ensure all details are accounted for.


Event planners know that multitasking is not an option – it is a must-have skill that will help them manage a multitude of responsibilities and tasks leading up to the opening day and during the event. To be successful, an event planner must be able to prioritize a wide and often fluid range of needs and requirements, maintain laser-like focus, manage stress and personnel, and stay on top of all the details to ensure goals and timelines are met. Because so many elements of an event often occur at the same time, the ability to virtually juggle many different but related responsibilities is truly a hallmark of experienced event planners.

It’s a Wrap!

Even after the last attendee has walked out the door, the event isn’t quite done yet. A thorough evaluation to assess the overall success, identify potential opportunities for improvement, and collect and analyze data and feedback is the last required step. Event planners will touch base with their team to identify what went well and what could have been done differently, and to carefully review all data acquired through registration and surveys. They will use this data to develop framework changes for future editions of the event and compare findings against everything from experience design and marketing to logistical elements and delivery. Finally, event planners will debrief their clients and use all the gathered information to fine tune future strategies and incorporate learnings. This will not only help improve next year’s event – it will also become invaluable in their toolkit when working with new clients on future events.

Experienced Event Planners Keep Their Toolkit Well-Stocked

  • They have top-tier negotiation skills for partnering with vendors to find effective solutions and maximize budget spend.
  • They prepare for the unexpected and always have a Plan B. (Because something unexpected is almost always likely to happen!)
  • Problem solving is second nature.
  • They’re skilled at setting a budget and ensuring budget goals are met.
  • They are creative and always ready to offer new ideas.
  • Grace under pressure is a must. Being flexible, nimble, and confident allows planners to find new solutions when challenges arise.
  • They document everything with pictures and text for post-event reporting and future reference.
  • They possess the ability to stay calm and not panic when faced with an unexpected problem.
  • The best event planners are skilled leaders who lead by example.