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Starting in the Events Industry? Our Event Planners Share their Top 6 Pieces of Advice

Starting in the Events Industry? Our Event Planners Share their Top 6 Pieces of Advice

Our team has seen it all. Through their careers, they’ve planned thousands of successful events, and have weathered recessions, pandemics, industry shifts and much more.

Whether you’ve been in the industry 10 days or 10 months, here’s what three of our event pros of 10+ years wish they would have known starting out.

joey Joey Rodriguez
Joey is a seasoned event planning pro, now in her 21st year in the industry. She’s touched on all areas of events from venues, networking, nonprofit, sales — you name it! After managing events in Las Vegas, Joey made her way to Meeting Tomorrow where she is now directing our Event Planning Services department. She loves embracing the creativity behind events and integrating innovative ideas. 
antonette Antonette Lyken
Antonette has been in events for 15 years. She has an extensive background managing events in the hotel industry, and has now been managing events at Meeting Tomorrow for the past four years. She sees her role as the thread that helps link teams together so that they’re all coordinated onsite. 
alexis Alexis Wilkins
Alexis has been in the events industry for the past 12 years and has worked on events in hotels and healthcare tech. Now, she’s managing events at Meeting Tomorrow. She loves bringing her clients’ vision to life and making sure everything onsite goes smoothly and according to plan. 


1. Build Authentic Connections

Joey: Hold relationships with authentic connections and not just to fill your rolodex. We’re in such a big but small community of event professionals. So from building those connections, you never know when that’s gonna circle back around. 

Alexis: Relationship building is so important across the team. Whether it’s between team to team members, clients, or venue staff, those relationships go a long way in creating a successful event. 

Antonette: Even in the business of work, I prioritize time to connect because that is an important part of who I am. I enjoy building connections and welcome any opportunity to meet new people. The human element of events is the best part!

The Takeaway: As event planners, bringing people together is part of our every day. But sometimes we may overlook building relationships for ourselves. Our planners see intentional relationship building as an important way to support themselves both professionally and personally.


2. Set Boundaries and Prioritize Self-Care

Alexis: I really value the 9-5 time space. When the day and workload allow it and 5 o’clock hits, I try to turn my computer off and not be on my phone or computer, and my clients and colleagues take that to heart, which I appreciate.  

Joey: I credit Meeting Tomorrow a lot for my work-life balance. It’s important to find both a company and clients that embody your same values and set boundaries early on. With clients, we want to be able to communicate our working hours right up front so they know that we won’t be answering emails at midnight. That communication piece is something I put directly into my project plans with a client. Time management is truly what I’m doing to make sure that I can sign-off and take care of myself. 

The Takeaway: With travel-heavy schedules, it’s easy for work-life balance to slip through the cracks if we’re not proactive about it. For our event planners, boundary setting and clear communication with colleagues and clients is critical for taking care of themselves and preventing burnout.


3. Double, Triple, Quadruple Check!

Alexis: Double check and recheck when updates and changes come through. I’ve seen in the past when a client may not think to pause and notify a planner when a change comes through. So, it’s up to you to make sure you get those details. Even if you’ve read through an event and think you have it all, read through it again and again to make sure those changes are updated, that way you can make sure the right teams have the most updated information when you get on site. 

Antonette: Checklists are an essential tool that a lot of meeting planners use to double, triple check that everything is good. But, also keeping a list of things that may not have gone as planned is important when reflecting post-event. Create checklists for yourself; it can help ensure you don’t repeat past mistakes. 

The Takeaway: At the end of the day, it all comes back to the checklist! With all the changes being made left and right onsite, our planners rely on their checklist to stay organized and keep order. Our planners not only recommend checklists to keep track of deliverables, but also as a growth tool to prevent past mistakes.


4. Remain Calm and Turn Mishaps into a Learning Opportunity

Alexis: Mistakes happen and we obviously want to avoid them; but, we can’t get so focused on freaking out if something doesn’t go right. How you bounce back when things don’t go right is more important to the client than the actual issue itself. One time when I was working for a hotel, there was this event where everything that could go wrong went wrong. I remember crying at the end of each day because there was so much out of my own control. Now after having that experience, I understand that there’s things out of our control, and now it’s more so how you can help the whole team and make the client feel comfortable as issues arise.

Antonette: Just remain calm and remember that things will work out. Even if it’s not a favorable outcome, things always work out. Events can be very busy and crazy, right? Calmness is essential because it helps you to think logically and not be wavered by emotion. I remind myself to remain calm no matter what happens so I can have a clear head in making timely decisions and get to the end of whatever it is we’re encountering.

The Takeaway: Remember, no one is immune to making mistakes, and they’re a natural part of learning and growth no matter what field you’re in. And in this industry we know that even with a fool-proof plan, something can always come up onsite that will throw that plan right out the window. Our planners know this first hand and advise to remain calm and stay solution-oriented when it comes to onsite mishaps. Like Antonette says, “Things always work out”!


5. Stay Curious and Celebrate Your Wins

Antonette: Our industry has so many really talented people in different spheres of event planning. So as a new event planner, though it is essential to learn and grow from others, it’s also so important to let go of comparing yourself to other people. Prioritize what it is you want to achieve, be curious, and focus on your journey and progress, and create your personal style. 

Joey: Celebrate your successes big or small. It’s so easy to get caught up in moving onto the next event and the event after without giving yourself a pat on the back and saying, “Wow, you did a huge event, great job on this one.” Celebrating big or small things will keep the morale up and keep you happy and satisfied in your role. 

The Takeaway: We’re in an exciting industry with such a creative and talented community. Take healthy inspiration from those around you but be careful not to fall into comparison with others. Focus on your growth and don’t forget to take moments to celebrate all of your wins, no matter the size. 


6. Know Your Why

Alexis: I love the satisfaction of seeing everything come together. Seeing people gather for a common purpose and a common experience is a great thing for me. 

Joey: I cannot do a monotonous job, so I love this side of the house where we work with different clients and every single job is completely different. We’re able to exercise our creativity and pitch different ideas to clients based on our expertise. That keeps me happy and excited everyday because who knows what it will bring. 

Antonette: Wherever you go, if you have a great group of people that you work with, it makes the hard days so much better. And when you have people who set the bar high when it comes to excellence, it always makes you want to challenge yourself to become better. 

The Takeaway: Alexis, Antonette, and Joey have been going strong in the events industry for over 10 years, and it all goes back to their “why.” What is it that you love about working as an event planner? Know your “why” to push you through the hard days and keep you fueled and motivated through the good ones.

Come join the Meeting Tomorrow community on Pinterest! Our team at Meeting Tomorrow regularly uses Pinterest to gain inspiration, make creative mood boards for clients, and share our own stage designs and events that we’re proud of.



Cindy Chea is a Content Specialist at Meeting Tomorrow. She loves coffee, travel vlogging, and Pennsylvania nature.