How to Land Your First Hospitality Event Position Without ANY Experience

I hope everyone is well rested from a long holiday weekend! I recently spoke to a current event planner in the tech industry who is interested in breaking into restaurant and nightlife event planning. Hospitality event planning is quite tricky, as there is no specific training to prepare you to 1. be offered the job and 2. execute the job correctly. It often feels as if the only people obtaining these positions are those who have experience or ‘know someone’ who can get them in. Well, I’m here to tell you there are many attributes you can possess to make the cut as an entry-level event planner and I am breaking them down below! Mention these in an upcoming interview and I’m confident you’ll get a call back. Read on and let me know how YOU stack up.

Passion for the industry. Do you love food? People? Making unforgettable experiences for guests? You’d be surprised how many event planners do not enjoy this part of the job. And that’s the issue - they see it as a job. If you find planning your sister’s bridal shower or organizing a holiday party a real treat, you definitely have a knack for adding that extra touch to make a guest’s event memorable. This is also something that employers love to hear. Maybe you haven’t organized a restaurant or nightclub event in the past, but you understand the scope - and you love it.

Outgoing & personable demeanor. You see how I didn’t use the word ‘networking’ here? While networking is a very important part of driving sales, it is much easier to do when you enjoy talking to people. Maintaining client relationships is more simple than people think. Mostly because the best relationships are built from having a genuine interest in your clients and what they need. Relationships are NOT about contacting your clients (or sending mass emails) to sell them something and hoping someone will reach back out. Plus, doesn’t the latter sound so unbearable?! I think so. If you’re someone with lots of personal relationships, you will find this part of an event career very satisfying.

Organized. Being organized is the #1 trait of event planners. There are SO many balls to juggle when planning an event: food, beverage, location, set up, timing, staff… and let’s not forget constant communication with the client. If you happen to be interviewing for a hospitality event planner position, but do not have experience, tell the interviewer a time where you had to be organized. It’s all relative!

Self-disciplined. Any restaurant or nightlife planner will tell you that you are a bit on your own island with events! There are many other positions within your company that help contribute to completing an event (manager, servers, bartenders, maintenance), but as far as organizing the private events side - they ALL look to you! Depending how you look at it, it’s sometimes a blessing because you are on your own schedule to get back to clients, book contracts, make sure rooms are ready for guests, etc. However, often you won’t have someone managing you (unless you aren’t holding up the department properly...). If you’re someone who is self-disciplined and shows up on time and keeps customers happy, you’re in the right place!

Adaptability. If I could give you the single best piece of advice I’ve learned in my 12 years in events, it’s to learn to adapt to the people you work with. In the hospitality industry, there are so many. talented. people. I’m not kidding. My first day working as an event director for Momotaro in Chicago, I was so intimidated by the servers because their knowledge of Japanese food and wine greatly surpassed anything I knew. I was beyond impressed with our chef and his talents as well. However, you WILL run into difficult personalities. You’ll also ALWAYS have team members who struggle to stay as organized as you. But guess what? That’s why you’re there to help them. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Once you wrap your head around that, working with people who aren’t like you will be much easier.

Be a Leader. This stems a bit off of being self-disciplined, but as a planner in a restaurant or nightclub, you must be able to lead a team. You achieve this by being organized, being approachable and most important: having fun. No one wants to participate in an event with someone who doesn’t try to make sure the’re an element of fun!

What traits do you feel you have that make you a good planner (or potential planner)? Is there anything missing from above? Be sure to subscribe to She Said Celebrate and I’ll be sure to drop some more knowledge in your inbox each week!