Why should you consider event planning courses?
Maybe you’ve just started planning your own events and want to learn more about it.
Maybe you’ve been organising events for a while but have become stuck in your routines. Or maybe you just want to switch things up and break into a new niche.
Event planning courses can help get your creative juices flowing and inspire you to try something new.
More events are being put on than ever before, which is exciting news. Technology has also opened up new opportunities for event planners.
Social media platforms let you promote your events to all the right people for very little money. Online event ticketing platforms—Billetto, for example—make the process of creating and distributing tickets really simple.
In other words, there’s a lot going on…and a lot to learn.
Fortunately, there are a lot of relevant event planning courses available. It doesn’t matter if you’re a band putting on a gig or trying to plan a Pilates class: There’s always something to learn.
Read this article to learn about:
- Must-have skills for event planners
- Qualifications you can obtain
- Where you can take event planning courses
- What you will learn
- How long it will take
- What your alternatives are
What skills do you need as an event planner?
If you’re putting on your first event, you need to know the main skills needed to be successful. But even if you’ve been there and done that, here’s a quick refresher for you.
The two broad skill sets you need to become an event planner are social and organisational skills.
You need good social skills to network with prospective clients and attendees, as well as other businesses.
You’ll also need good organisational skills to make sure everything goes according to plan and the event is a success.
In practical terms, having social skills means you need to be comfortable approaching strangers and building rapport with them — both online and in the real world.
Good organisational skills include being proficient with programs like online calendars, spreadsheets, time management software, and project management tools.
Finally, events cost money to organise. That means you need to learn how to create a realistic budget, negotiate the price of goods and services, and prepare for unforeseen expenses.
What qualifications do you need as an event planner?
Planning an event is very much an entrepreneurial endeavour. You don’t really need an official qualification to be successful…but it helps a lot.
You might not need a diploma, but you do need to keep yourself informed. Fortunately, there are several ways you can get the knowledge you need.
The most obvious route to becoming better at planning events is to take one of the many event planning courses available. You can find plenty of these online, but they’re also offered in many colleges and universities.
After you’ve obtained the initial qualification, you can educate yourself further by becoming a Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP).
The kind of education you should aim for very much depends on which direction you want to go. Regardless of the type of event you’re trying to put on, you will often need specific knowledge and practical skills for it to become a success.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a stand-up comedian or run corporate gigs. If you’re in it for the long haul, it can be very useful to consider event planning courses. The people you want to attend will be more confident in your events if they know you’ve (literally) done the homework.
What can you learn by taking event planning courses?
Many factors make up a successful event. That’s why there’s naturally a lot of ground to cover in event planning courses. Some of the things you’ll learn by taking a course include:
- Social media marketing
- Financial management
- Food and beverage planning
- Site selection
- Contract negotiation
How long do event planning courses take to complete?
Event planning is one of the more flexible fields of study.
Depending on your ambitions, it can take anywhere from a weekend to several years to complete your studies.
If already have your hands full with work, you might want to go for the shorter courses. But if you really want to test the waters in the deep end, there are full-fledged university degrees available.
Online courses are by far the most convenient option for working professionals. You can learn new skills in your own time and from the comfort of your own home.
The world wide web is a goldmine of knowledge—if you know where to look. Some websites will offer you short online courses for £25, which is next to nothing. And yes, it’s even possible to find online courses that actually cost nothing.
You also have the option to do weekend event planning courses.
These courses are offered by places like the Open Academy and will give you a bit more face-time with tutors and other professionals. They take three to four days to complete and only set you back £70. They often focus on specific niches in the event planning industry, like weddings, hosting, or styling.
Most universities also offer diplomas in event planning and other related fields of study. Short event planning courses that lead to a diploma can last anywhere from six months to a year.
Not only will you get through them quicker, but short courses are also cheaper. Tuition fees are at an all-time high. So £500–1000 for a short course might be more attractive than paying £40,000–£50,000 for the full package.
Undergraduate degrees (Bachelor’s)
If you’re still new to event planning or want to get a much deeper understanding of the industry, then you might want to go the university route.
It’s a much longer commitment; you’re looking at three years of study to get an undergraduate degree. Some degrees will have time set aside for a work placement. Others will require you do a separate year of work placement before the last year of study.
Postgraduate degrees (Master’s)
If you already have an undergraduate degree, you can move on to a postgraduate degree. You can complete a postgraduate degree in one year if done full-time, or in two years if you study part-time while working on the side.
It’s worth bearing mind that the shorter (and cheaper) event planning courses won’t cover as much ground as their longer (and more expensive) counterparts. Your choice should depend on your ambitions as an event planner.
Alternatives to event planning courses
Dedicated event planning courses will give you the most comprehensive education in event planning. But they are by no means your only option.
Since hospitality and events are inextricably linked, you will be able to learn about event planning by taking a hospitality management course. You’ll also learn about the following:
- Food and beverage systems
- Lodging management
- Facilities maintenance
- Hospitality finance
- Human resources
- Business law
Although “business” is a broad term, many business management courses will give you the option of studying event planning. You’ll also be able to learn about the following:
- Business operations
- Organisational Behaviour
Can you become a better event planner without studying?
Yes and no.
Some people have a natural knack for putting on events, but most of us need a guiding hand. If online courses and weekend seminars aren’t your cup of tea, then you need to source knowledge from somewhere else.
Watch YouTube videos
Care to take a guess at how many hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute? 400 hours. Every. Minute. Every conceivable topic is covered on the platform, and yes—that includes event planning.
Check out this comprehensive video tutorial to help you get started:
Find a mentor
People with event planning experience don’t all live at universities and conference centres. You can find them almost anywhere.
Scour your social network to see if you can find someone to help you out with your event. They don’t have to be event planning gurus. You just need to find someone with more experience than you. Chances are you’ll find someone simply due to the concept of Six Degrees of Kevin Bac–err–Six Degrees of Separation.
Learn by doing
For the masochists out there, there is always the hard way of learning: trial and error.
If you’re unsure if a particular event will work, try it out and see what happens. Plan as much ahead as you can and try to expect the unexpected.
Once the event is over, review it critically. What went well, and what was a disaster? Could the positives be improved? Could the negatives be prevented? If so, how? Use this method to gradually refine your approach to event planning.
To sum it all up
As you can see, there are many ways to skin a cat. You can study for a few days or a few years. It all depends on what you want to get out of your event planning course.
Before you dive into the training, consider the kind of learner you are and what you have time for in addition to your other commitments.
Most importantly: Sharpen your communication and organisational skills. Perfect these, and you’re on your way to success.