My name is Stacy Smith, and I started this site because nearly every day of my career, I have had at least one person ask, with breathless envy, “Your job sounds incredible! How in the world did you get started? How can I do this too?”
I see the starry-eyed hopefuls asking for my magic advice that will instantaneously land them a job in this exciting industry.
Unfortunately, it's not that easy. The good news? It's also not that hard! Unlike many other career paths, you don’t need years of additional schooling or specific degrees. You simply need to understand the foundational elements of event planning.
And so, this site was born. I had a few mentors point me in the right direction when I started out; and this is my chance to “pay it forward.” I want to help other people get started in this exciting, dynamic industry, the way someone once helped me.
Understanding meetings and events is not brain surgery or rocket science; but there are a few things that you need to know. There is much, much more to planning events than picking out pretty flowers and choosing fun menus. By understanding some of the basics, you can understand where you fit in and in which direction you should go. This alone will save you months of "trial and error" learning, and will help you start your career out in the right direction and more quickly than you thought possible.
How it all began...
I have been in the event and meeting planning industry for over fifteen years. As with most people who started that long ago, I “fell into” this path quite by accident.
During college I completed my journalism internship at a local non-profit organization, with the intention of writing their marketing material. When they were short-staffed and needed help in the special events department, I agreed to help out – and fell immediately in love with special event planning. We organized rubber duck races, golf tournaments, and fundraising concerts and galas. I had discovered a wonderful gem that I did not even know existed.
I loved, after months of pre-planning, watching my event unfold in front of my eyes. I loved seeing how the different smaller elements all fit together to create one large event. But more than anything else, I loved to stand back and watch people having a great time at this event that I helped plan; and I loved knowing that because of my event, the non-profit was going to make enough money to keep doing good things.
By graduation, I kept thinking of my incredible summer planning special events; and so I changed my career direction. My initial job search included anything that involved events.
Thanks to my experience of planning events for that one summer; I landed my first job working with a small production company. We created the “live show” element of corporate events; the staging, entertainment, lighting, music, and videos. I loved the excitement, the butterflies, the adrenaline rush from the “live” factor of events. I had found my niche!
Becoming a Travel Director...
However, after three years, my independent spirit needed to break free of the “9 to 5” routine. I had always had a burning desire to travel, to see the world, and to work for myself.
And so, I became an international freelance travel director (TD). It was not easy, at first. It takes time (in any industry) as a freelancer to build up a clientele and maintain steady work. I had to wait tables in the evenings while I spent my days calling companies, sending out my resume, and volunteering at various events for more experience. It took me over a year to land my first job; and there were plenty of times when I almost gave up.
But suddenly, one day, I got a call. It was a person who was friends with someone I had volunteered with planning a local special event. My colleague had noticed my positive attitude and willingness to learn, and so when her friend needed a freelance travel director, she handed out my number.
...and the rest is history!
The next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Switzerland for two weeks. I did a great job and that client hired me again for an event in Chicago. While on that job, I made friends with other TDs, and they eventually sent work my way. My contact base grew; slowly, but it grew. Within six months, I was working as a full time TD! I was traveling the world and managing the on-site logistics of events. My career had begun!
After a decade of traveling, however, I needed to find some balance. Thanks to the hundreds of events I helped coordinate as a travel director, I was easily able to slide into the role of an event planner. I've worked on my own events and also have assisted planners with their events for over ten years now. I enjoy contracting and working alongside other planners on large events, instead of opening a business and being limited to smaller events.
Nearly two decades from the time I first dreamt of planning events for a living, I have worked with countless clients both as a meeting and event planner and as a travel director. I have traveled to nearly every state in the nation and to over thirty countries, and have worked some incredible events and meetings across the globe.
How I can help you!
Unfortunately, there is no “quick fix” to help you get a job tomorrow, unless you know someone or are very lucky. Even if you did get lucky, though, you still need to know what you are doing in order to keep the job; and so shortcuts are never as great as they seem.
However, if you are willing to take the necessary steps, and put your time in now for a lifetime built on an exhilarating career, then you can easily become an event planner.
The goal of this website is to educate you on some basic concepts that took me years to figure out. It’s not rocket science; but if you can take some time to learn the industry on your own, it will give you insight to an ever-changing industry about which not much is known by the general public. This will put you ten steps ahead of anyone else who dreams of becoming an event planner.
I hope you find the information that I have to share to be helpful. I am excited for you for taking the right steps, doing your research, and knowing what you want to do! That is half the battle.
Good luck and I hope to see you somewhere, some day, at some great event….that you helped plan. Life is short – do what you love!
“The biggest mistake people make in life
is not making a living at doing what they most enjoy.”
~Malcom S. Forbes