So, how do you manage the event manager? They bring their expertise to the event planning and management process. They are the details person for your event. They are your go to person for everything related to your event.
What are the most effective tools for managing this unique relationship?
From my experience in the client/planner relationship, there are four key things that keep the relationship healthy and the event planning process on track.
1. Have a detailed contract. A solid understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the planner and the client are most important. The planner should also point out areas of the event planning contract that do not cover their work. Past experience tells me that there are a number of tasks that are not explicit, especially to the client, and the client then assumes the planner will step in and handle them. Not so. The planner has a responsibility to point these out and should explicitly exclude them in the contract. Assuming their omission from the contract is explicit is not good enough. Clearly state what tasks are not covered by the planner. You’ll save headaches down the road.
2. Clear Communication. A good planner updates the client regularly on all items in the planning contract. When you meet with the client, summarize the status of every item in the contract. When summarizing, query the client if they want more detail on specifics. While you as a planner may be working on little details in the contract and not feel compelled to give updates on more trivial items, it still is very important to update your client on everything. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy update, but make sure you cover with enough detail so the client feels comfortable that all bases are covered.
3. Follow-Up. I do this in two ways: First, I send an email summarizing key tasks and issues and their status. I try not to send a litany of emails, but provide one or two comprehensive emails covering discussions and status updates after meetings, or planning developments. Secondly, I provide a detailed ‘play book’ of the event for the client. The play book covers everything about the event: timelines, task assignments, deadlines, contact information, schedules, and contingency plans. The play book should be easy to read, concise and thoughtful. It doesn’t need to be a novel, but it does need enough detail to serve as the roadmap for the event plan.
4. Evaluation. Make sure that through the event planning process you regularly evaluate your own work and give your client the opportunity to do the same. Assess if there are items your client is not comfortable with or has questions about. Provide your client with feedback on how the process is going. Let them know if there are challenges and also let them know about accomplishments.
Keeping these four key elements front and center will ensure a successful relationship. Find the happy medium on how much detail to provide your client on your progress. Some clients really appreciate detailed updates. On the other hand, some are happy with a quick summary about what is happening. Regardless, having a detailed contract, clear communications, regular updates and evaluation will provide a solid foundation for the the client/planner relationship.