Competition In The Event Planning Industry

by Silvia Oppenheim

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Event Planning Careers.

1. Metropolitan Areas Vs. Non-Metro Areas: Salary & Job AvailabilitySan Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles are the cities I associate with event planning. In these cities you’ll find a concentrated network of event planners. However, these event planners also cater to a huge demand. Working people don’t have time to plan their events, so it’s becoming more common for people to hire planners.

The United States Bureau Of Labor Statistics lists the top paying states for event planners in 2010 as District of Columbia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York and Hawaii. The annual mean wages in these top paying states range from $54,130 (Hawaii) to $61,400 (D.C.).

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1. Metropolitan Areas Vs. Non-Metro Areas: Salary & Job AvailabilitySan Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles are the cities I associate with event planning. In these cities you’ll find a concentrated network of event planners. However, these event planners also cater to a huge demand. Working people don’t have time to plan their events, so it’s becoming more common for people to hire planners.

The United States Bureau Of Labor Statistics lists the top paying states for event planners in 2010 as District of Columbia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York and Hawaii. The annual mean wages in these top paying states range from $54,130 (Hawaii) to $61,400 (D.C.).

Metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of jobs and rates of employment are College Station-Bryan (TX); Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (DC-VA-MD-WV); Durham (NC); and Lawrence (KS).

Metro areas with the highest average salaries are Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown (NY); Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford (MA-NH); and Kingston (NY). Areas with the highest concentration of jobs are not necessarily the same as those with the highest salaries.

Smaller towns will still have their weddings, birthdays, and dinners. Event planners can find work anywhere.

Non-metro areas with the highest concentration of jobs and rates of employment are Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard; North Central Colorado; and Western South Dakota. Top paying non-metro areas are Hawaii/Maui/Kauai; Northwestern Virginia; and Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard.

**For full list of labor statistics, see http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131121.htm

2. The Clientele Is ChangingIn the past, I used to get requests mostly for weddings and big birthday parties. However, in the last few years, I’ve started to see more demand for smaller events--children’s birthdays, intimate dinner parties, and even cooking lessons.

This shift towards smaller events is a result of two changes I’ve noticed. First, there are more families with two adults working (rather than just one). No one has the time to worry about all the details of planning an event. Second, parents are having kids later and have more assets to spend on smaller events like their child’s first birthday.

I just planned a 1st birthday party for the child of a couple in their 40s. Children’s birthdays used to be just cookies and cupcakes. For this event, however, there was a 2-tiered cake, catering, and a second assistant (aside from myself). Parents used to do their own set-up and clean-up, but now, they’re hiring assistants.

Most of the couples I plan parties for are in their late 30s and early 40s. These couples are farther along in their career and have more money to spend than a couple in their 20s.

3. Developing A Diverse Skill Set Can Help You Get Ahead Of The CompetitionAlthough there’s a market for planning specializations like weddings and culinary events, you can also get ahead of the competition by broadening your scope. When there are so many event planners offering similar services, you need to ask yourself what will catch a client’s eye.

I studied architecture at Belas Artes in Sao Paulo, Brazil, so I can conceptualize space and draw up floor-plans for a party. Having an artistic eye helps me pick out color schemes, visualize the space as a whole, and make sure I am making the best use of it. The space has to have good flow, and there are specifics that need to be followed, like the distance between tables, size of dance floor and so on.

I love to cook, so I taught myself to work with sugar and build my own cakes. Creating beautiful specialty cakes is another service I can offer clients.



The more things you know how to do, the less you have to delegate to others. If you like being self-sufficient, you will need to add tools to your toolbelt.

4. The US Is Diverse; Educate YourselfLearn different languages! I am fluent in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, and I can also communicate in French and Italian. Speaking many languages has helped me find clients who were comfortable with me because I could communicate in their tongue.

Do your research before you meet with a client. I recently planned a Dol, a Korean 1st birthday party. I was not familiar with the customs, but I read and researched to make sure that the ceremony was as traditional as the parents wanted.

The Dol was almost like a wedding . . . for a one-year old. There were flowers, catering, and cake toppers with the Year of the Tiger theme. I have a lot of fun learning about new cultures, and my familiarity with many cultures helps clients trust that I understand their vision.

Although competition in the event planning industry can be tough, you can stay ahead by developing cultural awareness, artistic specialties, or technical and electrical skills. If you can communicate effectively and make clients comfortable, you will find yourself with more requests than you can fill.
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