Things are getting busy, but that’s par for the course.
In fact, Kelly Franklin, an event planner with Speilman’s Event Services Inc. in Cedar Rapids, said her company has averaged 130 holiday events a year over the past eight years between Nov. 1 and Jan. 31.
Schedules can become so tight, added Jayne Peremsky, 0wner of Buresh Events in Cedar Rapids, “Many organizations now even hold their winter parties in January and February.”
While Buresh Events has 4 full-time staff members and 8 part-time, Peremsky said on-call staff is essential in pulling an event together, especially during this busy season.
Franklin agrees, noting the number of employees at Speilman’s varies by the season — from 15 full-time staff members to upward of 50 employees.
Karen Woods, owner of Creative Occasions in Cedar Rapids, is technically the only full-time employee of her business, but she uses a number of other helpers depending on each event’s size and requirements.
“Each event determines the personnel I need to hire. Generally it’s a combination of using my clients’ employees, hired vendors and my part-time staff,” Woods said.
A growing trend in Eastern Iowa is businesses hosting in-house functions instead of going to rental facilities, planners said.
“This contains the cost and is more convenient for those attending,” Peremsky said. “We have the equipment and design ability to transform a dock or warehouse area into an incredible elegant or fun, funky setting.”
“We can transform our client’s spaces to completely change the look of an office space,” Franklin added.
To do so, Speilman’s can provide basic linen, table and chair rentals as well as full ceiling, dance floor and centerpiece décor.
Peremsky noted the ability to show clients computer-generated layouts of the event space to help them better visualize the end result.
TIME IS MONEY
Event planners try to be versatile.
“I organize the holiday party for a large company that brings four districts of 40 different storefronts together, involving more than 500 employees. Add in their spouses and/or guests and numbers can escalate quickly,” Woods said.
“On the other hand, I have a client that is a one-person company, and my only service for him is to do his holiday shopping for his customer gifts.”
Most event planners charge an hourly fee, with a total project cost estimate given up front. Fees are based on what rental equipment and how many staffers are needed, plus design, travel, installation and removal time, Peremsky said.
Planning helps keep costs in line.
“There have been many times where a client wants me to meet with their employees to gather ideas and get a vision for what the event will look like and how it will play out,” Woods said.
“It’s always better for your budget to plan accordingly and work ahead at least six months,” she noted. “This can definitely save you time, money and, importantly, the stress of putting an event together.”
“There is no ideal time frame,” Franklin said.
“It all depends on the size and scope of the event. We did a 100th anniversary celebration for a company last summer that was a whole month worth of events. That required four months of planning.”
“The event planning business is definitely a profession where every detail counts,” Peremsky agreed. “It’s the little things that people forget like lighting, air conditioning and heat, and of course the sound that can make or break your event.
“There is so much behind-the-scenes work a client and the guests never see.”
Of course, these professionals said there are additional benefits: “By the time you are finished with the party you don’t want to have to worry about the clean up,” Franklin said. “Our staff can take care of both set up and clean up.”
“We want our clients to be guests at their own event,” Peremsky added.