Meetings Canada


Member Voices: 5 Reasons to Consider an Independent Event Planner

Christian Garceau (Photo © Rick Watson)

Every day in every city and town across the world, hundreds of events are taking place. From the hotel ballroom to the art gallery, professionals from every industry are meeting for myriad reasons: AGMs, corporate launches, fundraisers, symposiums, and team-building activities, just to name a few.

When planning any type of meeting, you’re asking people to invest their most precious resource: time. If you’ve been tasked with creating an event, working with an independent event planner promises to leave your attendees with a lasting, positive impression. Here are the top 5 reasons to consider hiring an independent planner:

  1. The Paradox of Choice

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marches for the first time in Ottawa’s Capital Pride parade on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017. Christian Garceau was Assistant Festival Producer in 2017 and is Festival Director this year. Photo by David Kawai provided by Ottawa Capital Pride courtesy of Ottawa Citizen/Postmedia.

Google “event venue” along with your city name. You’re likely looking at thousands of search results.  In addition to traditional event venues such as hotels and convention centres, there are art galleries, sporting arenas, barns, historical sites, the list goes on. Now try the same exercise using the term “caterer” or “decorator.” Again, thousands of results.

These are just three types of vendors out of a dozen you may be working with to bring your event to life. The paradox is that, with so many choices, narrowing them down is a daunting task. Independent planners spend their day considering venues, caterers and other event components and are equipped and knowledgeable to help focus your choices on what you need to accomplish.

  1. The right team for the right job

Everyone knows a successful event comes down to smart, efficient team work. But what size team do you need to produce your event? You’ll likely need a larger staff the day of the event. You might need a graphic designer to throw together some promotional material. The need for a street team may even come up. Hiring short-term employees can be a challenge for your organization, but this is the world in which independent event planners live. They have the resources — and the network, through associations like CanSPEP — to deliver short-term resources when you need them.

  1. Putting out fires is their specialty

The critical path is done, your agenda is set, every piece of linen is perfectly laid and the lighting is on point. And then your keynote speaker gets the flu. Even the best laid plans can yield an unplanned crisis. Fortunately, if you’ve chosen to work with an independent planner, they know how to prove their worth with the best contingency plans money can buy. If it can happen, it likely has happened, and your planner has experienced it and has solved it.

  1. Rich and varied experience

Independent event planners have experience across multiple industries and event types. While some planners will work within a niche (association meetings or corporate launches, for example) most have experience in everything from festivals to fundraisers to galas. Furthermore, CanSPEP members have unencumbered access to assistance and resources from within their professional association. This variety and access gives them a wide range of experiences to draw on when troubleshooting an issue, or brainstorming on a new, innovative approach to your event.

  1. An extension of your team

While “corporate culture” may be a buzzword, it is having a real impact on the efficiency of teams. When you bring in an independent planner, you’re also adding a member to your team, who will be working closely in achieving your individual goals. The wrong person can be poison to your project. The right independent planner will seamlessly integrate into your culture, asking questions to uncover the strengths and pain points of any team. Their professionalism and organizational skills, matched with their creativity, are sure to create not just an event, but a positive experience, for your stakeholders.


Christian Garceau is the founder and chief planner at A Social Affair Event Management.  The Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners (CanSPEP) is a dynamic, diverse and innovative society of independent event professionals with a leading national voice in the event industry. It is the only association in Canada that offers an exclusive membership to independent event planner entrepreneurs. Formed in 1996, CanSPEP provides forums in which members exchange ideas, develop skills through educational programs and create a public awareness around the profession of event planners. 


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