- Monday, January 4, 2016

Let's Talk Pricing


It’s the first thing aspiring event planners ask me, “How do you determine how to price your services?”
It’s the first thing couples planning their wedding ask me, “Tell us about your pricing.”
It’s the first thing other planners want to benchmark on, “What are you charging these days?”
So I’d like to share my thoughts on this, from every perspective. Pricing is a very personal decision. So many event planners are running their own companies, have their own business models and should be choosing the pricing structure that works best for them.
So why are there event planners who charge $500 and others who charge $5,000 for the same service? The answer is simple: it’s not the same service.
Here are factors that I think should be taken into consideration, and hopefully this can shed a little light on why there’s such a huge swing in planning costs. Though, isn’t there for everything? You can buy a Ford, or a Porsche – there’s a price swing there. You can buy Payless shoes or Louboutins – most definitely a price swing there. This is to say that there are different levels of quality, experience, and style for consumable products, and the same is true for service-based professionals.
How many years has the event planner been planning? Have they been a member of a large event team, or have they been leading the team and getting crucial hands on experience? Have they planned more than their own event? Have they planned multiple events of the kind you are seeking to have (wedding, birthday, product launch, etc)? Have they planned events of the size you are seeking (at times a 300 person event requires some additional planning than a 30 person event)
Someone who has been on the front line planning events for over ten years will command higher fees than someone who has planned their own event and is then interested in pursuing a career in event planning and is looking to build his or her portfolio.

Geographic Location
Planners and fees in major cities will be more than in other areas. Most likely, the overall wedding budgets are higher in these areas, and therefore overall costs are more. Just like cost of living.

Planners who have worked very hard to establish an extensive network of other vendors and venues who match their level of quality and experience will have a higher fee than those who have not yet established those contacts.
HOW planners charge is another question that seems to keep coming up. For example, some will chose to charge a percentage based fee of your event. So if you have a $100K budget, and the planner commands a 15% planning fee, they will be $15,000 for their planning services. Other planners chose to charge a flat fee regardless of the size of the budget of the event. Still others will choose a hybrid of the two models.

As a planner, it’s up to you what works best. As a client, it’s up to you to discuss their pricing method with your potential planners. It is OK to ask questions, as many as you’d like, so that you understand fully what an amazing benefit you’ll be receiving by working with your planner.
I know that there never seems to be enough time, and that people who are “shopping” around for event planners would like to get a price, get a service list, and move on to the next call or email. In my opinion, you’re doing a HUGE disservice to yourself and your affianced (if wedding planning).
Price doesn’t tell the whole story. It is NOT the same product that every planner provides. I think it is very much worth a meeting, or even phone conversation, so that you can understand a bit more about that planner, his or her background, and why they charge what they are charging. Just as you most likely wouldn’t make a major purchase like a new phone without researching the reputation of the companies, the features, and all the benefits, you should do as much PERSONAL research with your event team. 

You want to trust them, be inspired by them, have confidence in them, and really click with them. After all, every event from a Wedding to a Product Launch, is about creating really awesome memories, and you’ll want the best team to make that happen with you.

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