Confessions of an Event Planner: Case Studies from the Real World of Events - How to Handle the Un-expected, and How to Be a Master of Discretion
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More About This Title Confessions of an Event Planner: Case Studies from the Real World of Events - How to Handle the Un-expected, and How to Be a Master of Discretion


For anyone planning events—student, novice, or experienced professional—Confessions of an Event Planner is an “apprenticeship in a book.” This insider’s guide takes you on a narrative journey, following a fictional event planning company that stages various types of events around the world for many different clients.

While other books, college courses, and training programs give you the theory and how-to of the profession, Confessions of an Event Planner reveals the real world of event planning and what can happen—usually the unexpected—on an event program when actual participants are added to the event planning design and execution mix. In a climate of media scrutiny and corporate scandals, event planners must be masters of discretion, knowing how to avoid and deal with everything from sexual romps to financial shenanigans, to chainsaw wielding salesmen dead set on “re-landscaping” the grounds of the resort they’re staying at. From an event planner who’s seen it all and knows how to deal with it all, comes practical first-hand advice delivered in an entertaining and accessible format.

Each chapter is set in a unique location, with a cast of characters, and a host of challenges and problems to overcome—from the boardroom to the resort guest bedrooms. Readers learn what they can come up against, how to problem solve creatively on the fly, get ideas for staging spectacular events, and see the principles of event planning in action. The scenario in each chapter is introduced by an outline of what will be covered in the chapter, and each chapter concludes with a series of review questions to explore key issues and stimulate reflection or discussion for individuals or groups. Ideal as a companion to Judy Allen’s six other event planning books, as a textbook in event planning courses, or as a professional training tool Confessions of an Event Planner prepares planners for what they can expect once they start working in the world of corporate and social event planning, and will help decision-makers set company policies, procedures and protocol and promote discussion about codes of conduct in the office and offsite.


Judy Allen is one of the world’s leading authorities on staging, event and lifestyle design and the bestselling author of ten books for the professional, business and consumer markets. Allen, a master of creative design, has flawlessly executed successful special events—corporate, social, and celebrity—for up to 2,000 guests at a time in more than 30 countries around the world. She has designed and produced memorable events such as Disney’s worldwide theatrical opening-night gala for Beauty and the Beast, and the orchestration of Oscar-winning director Norman Jewison’s 25th anniversary celebration for Fiddler on the Roof.
Highly skilled in staging events that are strategically designed to be one-of-kind experiences and a master of transforming the energy of an event environment by engaging the senses with trademark primary design principles, Allen has worked closely with CEOs, CFOs, presidents and their executive staff around the globe to create, implement and oversee their corporate and social business events.
The many diverse events that Allen has designed and executed extend from complex one-day events to elaborate arrangements of theme productions taking place over the course of a week. These events ranged from very exclusive VIP events to multimillion-dollar, multimedia fantasy extravaganzas including seven new-car product launches and involved high-tech stage and show productions.
Allen, and her 2jproductions ( partner, Joe Shane, are now bringing their dynamic creative energy, innovative style and perceptive insight to home, life and lifestyle design and world class resorts around the world through Sensual Home Living™ ( and other initiatives.


Preface ix

Acknowledgements xix

1 Meetings, Mayhem and Margaritaville 1
Em finds herself in a distressing real-life situation that tests her ability to walk the fine event planning line of giving her clients what they want and keeping the guests safe.

Q&A and Assignments 34

2 Sun Jammin' 49
Em and her staff fall into a delicate situation when their client’s mistress—who is also his executive assistant—decides that she wants to go on the company trip. The situation is serious, as the client’s wife and children are on the program as well.

Q&A and Assignments 72

3 You Want Me To Try Alligator, Rattlesnake and What??? 91
Em experiences the difficulties of managing a client’s demanding wants and whims during a site inspection and finds herself in a sticky situation.

Q&A and Assignments 111

4 Wedding Daze 121
Em saves the day—or rather the cake—when attending a personal, not professional event, and takes her creativity to new levels.

Q&A and Assignments 124

5 From City Lights to Desert Nights 127
Em and her team are faced with handling their first death on a program, on top of handling the ongoing hijinks of some well-known attendees during their event.

Q&A and Assignments 148

6 Inventive Incentives 161
Em's innovative design creativity helps one company with limited funds meet their company objectives by developing a multi-tier program that has three events taking place at once in three different parts of the world.

Q&A and Assignment 164

7 All Hail (or Oh, Hell) to the Man Who Would Be King 167
Em and her team handle a difficult client on top of an intricate event program. They must devise ways to manage both successfully making this a true test of their talents.

Q&A and Assignments 184

8 Long Commute to Work 189
Em sets out on her own to do a site inspection for a client and then heads to a nearby destination to check it out as a possible incentive destination for other groups.

Q&A and Assignments 197

9 Guests Gone Wild 205
Em and her team have to deal with an abusive guest who goes out of control, is fired on the spot and is sent back home but not before causing more havoc and added drama.

Q&A and Assignments 215

10 Taking an Ethical Stand 221
Em has to make the decision whether to keep or "fire" a client. She has her personal and company’s reputation at stake and knows that sometimes it is best to walk away.

Q&A and Assignments 227

11 Social Agenda 231
Em and her team take on their first nonprofit event and experience firsthand the challenges nonprofits face when creating events with limited funds.

Q&A and Assignments 248

12 Rocking the Casbah 255
Em has another encounter with DiamondDiva but this time around she is going in knowing exactly what to expect and how to handle her client demands in a way that causes her no stress and protects her client, her company and her own composure.

Assignment 257

Conclusion 259

Final Assignment 261