Whether you’re looking to host an event to raise brand awareness, improve company culture, or simply entertain staff members, management is crucial, so it’s best to leave it to the professionals. To help you choose the best fit for you, we’ve shortlisted the leading event management companies to help you plan it all. Just below the table, you can find our custom evaluation criteria. The final choice is yours though, which is why we’ve outlined a few actionable tips to help with your decision.
To compile the list, we devised a custom evaluation methodology based on a multifactor analysis. Our assessment focused on aspects such as customer satisfaction, expertise, experience, and creativity. We also explored the types of services they offer and whether they focus on working with organizations of a specific size or niche.
Before the actual evaluation, we classify the event management firms, verifying if they specialize in a certain niche. Many of them excel at corporate meetings or conference planning, while others shine in social events and parties.
We also check if they work with businesses of a certain size. As with the business niche, some agencies prefer catering to small to medium-sized businesses or individuals, while others plan events exclusively for enterprises and big corporations.
Before diving in further, we should note that at this point we don’t rank the event management agencies but only classify them.
Did you know that in the US, 1.83 million events and meetings are organized yearly? These events produce a staggering $66.8 billion in labor income. So, in an attempt to get a piece of the pie, almost anyone that has organized a friend’s party tends to call themselves an event manager. Our job is to weed out these and put together a list of the best industry professionals with the experience to back their claims. To establish a company’s experience, we look at its portfolio and assess the following:
Your event attendees need to feel your story in every element of the event. This means that the prospective event management firm should understand your brand, along with your goals and expectations to tell your story with the event they organize.
A successful event is a memorable event. And for an event to be memorable, it needs to be unique. That’s the next thing we look for when assessing an agency’s projects. How unique are they? How does that uniqueness align with the client’s brand and goals?
Every successful event management company has a variety of photos and videos to showcase its portfolio. It’s important that the events look appealing because the visual stimulus is usually what determines the “feel” of the event. If your event is appealing, chances are it will positively influence your brand authority.
Finally, we check whether the agency managed to successfully address the needs of the attendees. For example, we take note of how well the agency personalized the experience, whether they streamlined the check-in process, the event guide, networking rooms (if needed), etc.
We also consider any certifications that the event management agency has acquired over the years. They signify that the outfit knows the ins and outs of event planning and has the right experience. Some popular industry credentials are Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP), and Digital Event Strategist (DES).
At this point, we have filtered the agencies based on their experience and client satisfaction. Those that have passed our initial evaluation stage are subjected to an in-depth examination that starts with assessing creativity. We evaluate that by considering their past work and reaching out to the event planner for an initial interview. The best event management agencies will have a creative team that generates ideas and is ready to bring the client’s vision to life. Creativity also helps with problem-solving which can influence the successful outcome of the event.
While assessing the abovementioned points based on the past work of the event companies, there is also the other side — the clients. We look beyond the testimonials on the agency’s site, and check reviews on third-party directories, social media, and Google to verify their reputation.
Client reviews suggest whether the agency excels in particular areas, what problems (if any) the clients faced, whether the issues were resolved, and more. If needed, we reach out to clients and talk about what they liked or didn’t like when working with the specific agency, how satisfied they were, and whether they would recommend the outfit.
Any top event management company would know the importance of having a project manager on board. This role is essential in the organization phase since the agency will need to take care of different tasks including negotiation with rental vendors, meeting prospective guest speakers, exploring entertainment options, organizing catering, selecting and booking a venue, etc. This is just for a single event so if the company handles multiple orders, we want to make sure they have the ability to multitask, and, if need be, to prioritize and focus on specific tasks.
With some events taking more than six months to organize, the best event planning companies will have a dedicated project manager to stay on top of things. Organizational tools or workflow software platforms can help with this.
Verifying the expertise, project management capability, creativity, and customer satisfaction of the agencies shortens the list of the potential best event management companies. To define the rankings, we explore the services offered by each agency.
Research is fundamental for successful event planning, as it reduces risk, especially for larger events. Surveys, focus groups, or interviews will assure the event planner there is demand for the product. Research can also indicate whether the event will be beneficial to prospective attendees. Conducting research is also helpful with the target group’s preferences, informing the planner of their likes and dislikes.
Design is another thing professional event planning agencies should take care of. Even if they don’t have a dedicated in-house decorator and instead outsource this service, they should still be involved in the design phase of the project. Their role will be to outline the overall look and feel of the event by applying the insights from the research process.
Branding is a good service in an event planner’s catalog. While you can potentially hire one of the leading branding companies out there, why not have everything done under one roof? The event planner can help you choose the theme most likely to set you apart from the competition and draw attention. They can also assist you with the choice of a memorable name, tagline, and logo.
Following the research process and design outline, the event organizer company should have enough data for a proposal. Producing a proper proposal with sketches and photographs can be expensive and time-consuming and although this service sometimes comes at a separate fee, we do not appreciate agencies that don’t offer it at all.
This is the time for decision-making. At this stage, the agency will hire vendors, select and book a venue, hire a caterer — in short, they will have to tick all the boxes in the event checklist. Once this is done, they should focus on each of the activities and ensure everyone is on the same page. Good communication, quick thinking, and good decision-making are crucial capabilities here. Vendors should be coordinated and informed of what’s expected of them and when.
While hiring one of the best advertising companies or digital marketing providers out there is also an option, event planning firms that offer marketing promotion services get a ranking boost. They should employ the best marketing practices to reach the target clients, craft promotion plans for all outlets including traditional advertising and digital marketing, create robust pre-event and day-to-day strategies, and more.
Evaluation is essential for corporate event management companies. Specifically, the agency should gather attendee feedback, collect press media mentions, and track social media engagement. Further analysis will provide insight into the event’s effectiveness, whether it met the client’s goals and objectives, how the client compared to their competition, and measure the ROI. This data will help clients enhance their strategy and make a few tweaks to improve the next event.
Knowing the best event managers in the industry doesn’t mean you’ll magically find the perfect fit. To help you with your choice, we have outlined four actionable tips to guide you through the shortlisting process, helping you ultimately find the right agency for your needs.
Prior to searching for the best event management firm, you should establish your goals and objectives. Think about the purpose of your event — why you organize it in the first place, your goals, the main things you want your attendees to remember, and so on.
Once you define these, you will get a clearer idea about the theme and message of your event. When establishing your goals, consider how they fit in your overall marketing strategy and the mission statement of your brand. Bonus tip: make your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-based).
Event management blends many parts that function together. Make sure to weed out the event management companies that can’t address your needs. Do you want to source speakers yourself or do you need a company to take care of this? Will you organize the catering or do you plan on enlisting the agency’s help on that? These are just a few of the questions you’ll have to ask yourself if you want to further narrow down the choice of the best event management companies for you.
Next, you need to set up a realistic budget. With the top events companies, there usually isn’t a one-size-fits-all option. This means that the final price will be determined based on what you need from the agency. Do you want them to find a venue, take care of the catering, and provide you with an end-to-end marketing service? You’ll have to pay a fee for all of these.
Following this short guide should leave you with up to three event management companies. To make the final choice, consider meeting each supplier face to face to assess whether the agency is a good cultural fit.