Working remotely in the events industry: Is it possible?

It’s a digital world, planners! As of 2023, an impressive 12.7% of employees work from home. New software like Zoom, Slack, and other project management platforms have created an exciting opportunity to adapt your work routine to your lifestyle needs. 

You may wonder, “Can I work from home as an event planner?” The short answer is yes! It comes with unique challenges and requires a different approach to event planning, but it’s possible. Keep in mind, however, that there are times when travel is inevitable. 

Aside from the communication benefits of in-office work, event planning requires face time (the in-person kind) with vendors, suppliers, and event entertainment. It also includes touring venues, overseeing decor, and other in-person activities. If you want to work from home, there are specific strategies you’ll have to follow to ensure a successful event. 

Read our guide on working remotely as an event planner for the tips and tricks to overseeing a successful event without ever leaving your home office (or bed)!

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Communication is key.

The most impactful challenge of remote work is communication. Text-based communications like email are helpful, but they lack the nuance of vocal intonation. The friendliest message can come across as sarcastic when it’s just a text. For this reason, opting for video conferences or voice messages for critical communications is an effective alternative. 

Clarity is essential. Articulate your ideas in the most precise terms possible, and ask for clarification from your team to ensure they understand. Visual aids like charts, design concepts, and layout maps are valuable tools for event storytelling remotely. 

Hold cross-functional meetings where different branches of the event planning team can discuss their projects and share their perspectives. This ensures everyone is on the same page, even if they aren’t working in the same office. 

Regularly check in with your team. Host weekly meetings to review specific goals, mark progress, identify new or recurring pain points, and set new goals for the week. This provides accountability and the opportunity to celebrate progress, boosting morale!

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Collaborative technologies. 

Remote work wouldn’t be possible without new technologies. A traditional office has spaces for each arm of your event planning team—marketing, design, supplier management, etc. Project management platforms are the digital version of a shared office space. 

Slack, Monday.com, and ClickUp are some of the most popular platforms for remote collaboration. You can create group or individual messages, assign tasks with deadlines, upload visual media, and track the progress of your event planning, all from your laptop! 

The added benefit of digital project management is an increase in sustainability. Replacing hard-copy materials with digital versions will reduce waste while making these materials more accessible to your team. Less time spent asking for resources is more time spent using them to craft a memorable event experience

We recommend choosing a single project management tool. This will consolidate the varied materials, tasks and communication streams into one platform and prevent confusion. If you need information, you’ll know where to look. 

Lastly, set a communication strategy with your team. Set boundaries around when and how you will communicate. Understanding when someone can and can’t be reached and how best to reach them will increase efficiency and eliminate unintended frustration.

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How to coordinate with vendors/suppliers.

Vendors, suppliers, and event sponsors are critical members of your wider team. Whether we’re talking about catering or tech brands, these businesses are a significant source of event content and a major benefit to event marketing. Remote event planners must find a way to digitally spark and manage these relationships. 

Social media is an excellent tool for finding and getting to know potential partners ahead of time. You can find trending brands on Instagram or TikTok; learn about their creators and gain insights into their audience demographic. Partnering with trending brands will leverage their audience to expand your following.

Vendor and supplier negotiations should always happen over video, if not in person. Lay out clear expectations for the project and provide as much visual material as possible. The clearer they can see your vision, the better they can elevate it with their services.

Many will have digital portfolios that provide details about their offerings. However, there is a strategic alternative. If your team is scattered across the country, consider assigning different members to meet with vendors and suppliers in their area (if they are located in their region). This way, you can get a taste of what they’re selling—literally, in terms of catering. 

Given that your planning will occur remotely, it’s advisable to discuss contingency planning with your event partners. Remote work increases the unknowns, as you may not have seen the venue or tested equipment beforehand. If unforeseen challenges arise, you’ll be prepared.

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Finding a venue remotely.

If you’re going to splurge on travel costs, this is the time. Even if you don’t choose the first venue you tour, physically walking the space allows you to discover potential issues before renting it. Trust us, it’s better to lose some money on a plane ticket than to have your event collapse on the day. 

Be strategic about your venue search. Choose your event destination, then narrow your venue options to the top 3-5 within a reasonable driving distance. That way, you only need one plane ticket to visit several venues. 

Fortunately, venue research isn’t impacted by working from home. You’ll utilize all your favorite search engines, social media, and venue search sites like Venue Report. Thanks to the internet, all the essential information you need can be found while sitting on the couch! 

Virtual tours are increasingly available for high-profile venues. Who knows! With growing VR and AR technology, maybe one day, visiting venues in person will be unnecessary. Until then, do what you can to get eyes inside your top choices. 

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Virtual team bonding.

If you’re working with a fully remote team, it’s easy to feel a lack of warmth in your event planning experience. Part of the fun is getting to know your fellow planners, laughing about memes and reassuring each other during stressful times. 

Despite the distance, there are many inventive methods for remote team bonding. One simple idea is to have Zoom lunches where you can trade the industry talk for a light conversation about what you’re eating or your new streaming obsession.

If you’re using Slack or another team collaboration platform, create a message thread dedicated to memes or cute pet photos. This gives your team a chance to share their personalities. Who doesn’t love a random cute dog photo in the middle of the day? 

Tiny Campfire is a charming idea for team bonding time. This company runs “virtual campfires” where remote teams can roast marshmallows over a small tea light, munch on s’mores, and share thrilling ghost stories. 

Fostering a feeling of connection among your event planning team, even during remote work, will boost morale and increase efficiency. A happy team is a productive team! 

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Anything is possible! 

Working from home as an event planner may come with unique challenges and require some creative strategies, but it’s 100% possible. This potential allows new event planners to build their track record and expand their network before establishing a shared office and increasing travel expenses. It also means that sick days don’t have to derail your planning! 

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and where there’s an event planner, anything is possible!

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