Advice from an Event Planner

Savannah International Trade and Convention Center at night

Kelli Sauers, Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, took the time to discuss the ins-and-outs of event planning with students enrolled in my Event Managment course this semester. You may remember the 2004 G8 Summit was hosted at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center. You will have to contact Kelli for a recap of working that event.

Kelli works on the conference side of event planning and made it clear that this is different from the arena side of event planning. The arena side of event planning invovles the large concerts that one might attend. Immediately after college, Kelli spent a few years working in Belk’s before she landed her first event planning job with the March of Dimes.  She is now the senior event manager at the Savannah Trade and Convention Center. Kelli has had the pleasure of helping several corporations host their event at the Center, such as GM, Georgia Power, Georgia assembly, local banks, etc. Here is her advice for those who aspire to be professional event planners.
  • It takes a special person to put up with what you will go through, yet event planning is always interesting, fun, and rewarding.
  • Don’t do anything until a contract is signed. (This may differ based on your area of event planning.)
  • The first question you ask a client is “How much do you have to spend?”.
  • Being friends with a client is important, but it’s not the be-all end-all.
  • Qualities every event planner needs includes patience, dedication, and the ability to read clients.
  • You don’t make a lot of money, especially in the beginning.
  • Yes, you will work weekends. In some cases you’ll work several weekends.
  • Not everyone begins in event planning. It is a difficult business to find work in.
  • Yes, there is some math involved. You have to consider how the space is being used and the best way to maximize.

    Esplanade at Night

Not all events are equal. After her talk, Kelli presented the students with some trivia questions regarding events held at the Trade Center, along with trivia regarding the building itself.
  • The Trade Center is a 300,000 square foot building.
  • Most attendees at an event in a day was 15,000.
  • As of her visit to the class, the Trade Center had served 80,000 gallons of coffee AND 750,000 units of soda and bottled water. (One gallon of coffee is $300 plus.)
  • The electricity bill is $35,000 per month.  The highest electricity bill they’ve had was $80,000 in a month.
  • The most meals served in one day was 4500.

Many thanks to Kelli Sauers for speaking with students regarding event planning and for providing pictures for this blog post.

What additional advice would you give aspiring event planners?

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