How to start a party and event planning business

A step-by-step guide to setting up a business in the events management industry

Useful links:

Reputation and marketing

This industry has got a history of lots of people entering it, doing a bad job, and then going bust, so reputation is incredibly important. As with all industries, word of mouth is key. In this digtial age, word-of-mouth includes online social networks too. Twitter and Facebook pages should form part of your portfolio of marketing efforts. Link your pages to your own site or blog: this will feed traffic to your site, improve your SEO tagging and your search rating. Every little helps.

You could, as Michael Newsome of Connect Events suggests, use marketing lists, which are available for purchase, to arrange email shots and targeted marketing. Just make sure you choose the right lists. If you are going down this route, it’s really advisable to read up on data protection. Be careful to buy lists that are kosher.

No matter how successful your online campaign is, however, at the end of the day you can’t really buy reputation with Google advertising, or mailshot. The most important thing is getting yourself established. Run a number of successful events, build up good relationships in the industry, and your reputation will soon tower over your competitors. As David Jamilly suggests, this will take time: “For a start-up business, as a rule it’s two to three years, breaking even; five years doing okay – that’s applicable to this industry as well.”

Event Management is a multi-million pound industry: if you are an organisational hot shot who throws a great party, you could take a bash at it and earn yourself a cut of the winnings. But if you want to be part of this rapidly growing and rabidly competitive sector, just be sure you’re prepared to fight it out with the big boys!

Useful contacts

These associations will keep you up to date on new regulations and new movements in the events industry, and they host excellent networking events.

Action point:
See if you can get a Start Up Loan to help you start a business idea
(external site, opens in new tab)

Events Industry Alliance is a business created by ESSA, AEO and AEV to provide an association management secretariat service in the events industry. The three associations are run by its members for the benefit of its members through an elected council of representatives, specialist working groups and a full time secretariat.

International Special Events Society is an association that sits at the heart of the worldwide event industry, and is truly International with a network of over 7000 members across the world.

Association of Events Organisers is the trade body representing companies which conceive, create, develop or manage trade and consumer events.

Association of Events Venues is an organisation serving an established event venue community, focused on creating and driving platforms that service fundamental industry needs.

Event Supplier and Services Association is a trade association representing contractors and suppliers of goods and services to the events industry.

UK Alliance of Wedding Planners was founded to promote professionalism in wedding planning. This is done through membership, training courses and specialised events.

Theme Traders Theme Traders offers event management and party planning services incorporating production, design, consultancy, installation, props, theming, event prop hire, furniture hire, party and event decorations.  David Jamilly is the author of ‘Party People’

Connect Events Ltd Connect Events specialises in the management of events, primarily within the technology, media and sports markets.