When I first started in the industry, I took any program opportunities that came my way, from weddings and birthday parties to corporate conferences and meetings. As my company (Red Velvet Events) grew, I noticed a divide among corporate planners and social planners. Eventually, I transitioned my company to focusing solely on corporate events and found myself and my peers presenting an unconscious bias against the social side. It would manifest in the way we introduced ourselves and our businesses. We’d say, “Oh no, I am definitely not an event planner; I’m a meeting planner or I’m an event strategist.”
The fact is, planning for social and corporate markets are very different beasts. There are nuances and challenges that come with both sides. In recent years, I have noticed that more and more social planners have tried to move into the corporate market—and many are failing. Why is this switch happening in the first place, and is it possible to be successful in both markets?
There are a few reasons most people go from social to corporate rather than the other way around. First, most planners simply start their careers in a social capacity, and I would say that is because there is an easier barrier of entry. With the overrepresentation of social planners (think about all of the wedding planner rom-coms or crazy sweet 16 shows) compared to meeting planners in the media; even I did not realize that corporate planning was a professional job until I was well into my first career.
However, the largest reason social planners continue to move into corporate planning is because of the money. The pricing model for social events is challenging, especially for those in their first few years of business. Many social planners are undercharging for their services, not marking up resale components and not turning a sustainable profit. People see big bucks in corporate planning—which may sometimes be the case. But hastily making the switch to earn some extra cash without considering the additional responsibilities required and key challenges is the reason so many of these independents taking on corporate events eventually fail.