The 10 Types of Planners in the Plannerverse
Updated: May 4
“Oh my friend would be a great event planner, they did an amazing job on their wedding.” If I had $1.00 for every time I had someone say that to me, I could have retired years ago. I do not mean this in a bad way, but it's very different to be planning your own events versus planning events for clients. I wish there was a nice way to say, “you have no idea what you are getting yourself into” without saying exactly that. Now, being an event planner who is planning her own wedding, I am realizing very quickly that there are unique dynamics between different types of event planners.
What do I mean by that? Well it's something I realized a few months ago when I started to wedding plan for myself. I guess kind of like a surgeon. Sure, they can perform general surgery, but there are heart surgeons, brain surgeons, etc. Same thing with event planners. Not all planners want to handle an event from soup to nuts, there is a group of planners out there that just want to source venues and hotel rooms, and then hand the event off to someone else. That makes my soul hurt just saying that. But to them, the idea of branding an event and handling every detail makes them say, no thank you. For me, I would have zero issue handing hotel room sourcing off to someone else, but take away my branding, concepting, execution and day of event coordination? I would cry myself to sleep at night.
Last week I spent a few days in Hartford at the Connect Marketplace for New England. I joined this conference last year in Orlando, but didn't get the chance to really experience the dynamics of the planners in attendance. This time, I spent 2 and ½ days meeting other planners, venues, and just general event industry enthusiasts. As I sat down and started networking with the venues that came to this event, I realized something about myself. I am not a corporate planner, or even a meeting planner. I am a “I live for the details” event planner.
So here’s my assessment on the 10 types of planners out there in the Plannerverse. I am sure there are many hybrids as well, but this is what I’ve found so far.
I Live for Details Planner - This is me. I salivate over the idea of taking a brand, creating a concept from the event objectives, and bringing that concept to life in every touchpoint of the guest experience. It is what gets me out of bed every morning.
Event Planner - This is what I thought I was. An event planner is usually a planner who takes an event from objectives to post event reporting. They do everything from soup to nuts, but there are a lot of planners that don't get starry eyed over the idea of taking over a blank warehouse and building event inside it. For those planners out there, I place them in this category. This can be a planner that manages annual association meetings, guest paid corporate conferences, etc.
Meeting Planner - This is someone who brings groups (typically large) into big box event spaces (like a hotel ballroom) and handles everything from registration to budgets and accounting. These planners also tackle something called SMERF business, which stands for social, military, education, religious and fraternal meetings. This is such a huge segment in the event industry that convention and visitor bureaus dedicate full time staff to the effort of bringing these groups into their states.
In House Planner - These are the brave souls who work inside companies and their primary responsibility is planning their companies events. These can range from C Suite retreats, large internal meetings and tradeshows.
Wedding Planner - Self explanatory. I have so much respect for this amazing group of planners. I am in love with how in love they are with love.
Social Planner - These are typically your wedding anniversary, children's birthday, Bat/Bar Mitzvah planners. They love to celebrate social milestones and their only objective is that their clients leave their event with amazing memories.
Trade Show Planner - There is a whole fleet of planners devoted strictly to organizing and planning trade shows. These planners can be in house, or work for trade show organizations.
I’ll Plan Anything planner - These are the planners who I have a soft spot for. They will plan your Bat Mitzvah, your 25th anniversary or your corporate meeting. They just want to plan, they don’t care about the type of planner they get pigeon holed into.
Strategic Sourcing Planner - One thing I learned is that there are planners out there who’s only job is to source meeting spaces inside hotels & hotel rooms. Mind. Blown. Who knew? This just made my life 100x easier.
Party Planner - Depending on the type of planner you are, this either makes your heart sing or cringe. Party planners are mostly social planners, but all they care about is guests enjoying the event. They aren’t required to track results and budgets. They are party people.
What kind of event planner are you?