Hannah J. Snitker, 27, began planning corporate meetings while working for the AFLAC State office for four years. During this time, she also attended Lincoln University where she graduated in 2011 with a B.A. in Education, with a major in business. While she finished her student teaching, she opted not to teach. After she married and had her first child, she stayed home for a year before beginning at Canterbury Hill and Winery in April of 2013. Since then she has planned a variety of special events from weddings to special events, including HER Magazine’s 3rd birthday party.
Why meeting and event planning?
Hannah Snitker: I don’t have an education in event planning, but when I was at AFLAC I coordinated all sorts of corporate meetings and events. I liked the creativity of starting at ground zero and building them to the end. After taking some time off to start a family when the opportunity came about at Canterbury I took it and ran with it and it’s really a hands-on learning process. I plan a variety of different types of events and that keeps the job very interesting. Every event is different.
What are some of the events you work on?
HS: I plan and coordinate weddings and receptions, birthday parties for clients and corporate meetings. Some clients rent out the entire facility on Monday when we’re closed and we do break out sessions classroom style and then have a social hour at the end of the day. For one client we set up an entire casino in the Capital View Room upstairs and we often arrange for the entertainment, which sometimes is a DJ. We’ve also done awards ceremonies. I also handle events like the mystery theater dinners and dueling pianos and we do events for sororities and fraternites, from Mom’s weekends to formals.
What do you need to know?
HS: I have to know everything about our venue and our capabilities. I am involved in pricing and budgeting and I work with others on our team to help design the menu. We have basic menu offerings but we also customize for our more extravagant events, especially for our weddings. Sometimes our events include a buffet while others a plated dinner. I also help determine what staffing we will need for the event. The organization of the event leads to its success and there are also considerations if it’s an outdoor event. Once we have chosen many of the elements involved, I can get really involved and draw diagrams for how the tables need to be set and organized.
Can you talk about that?
HS: Planning outdoor events are obviously dependent on the weather, which sadly we have no control over. When the weather is perfect, those events are the most breathtaking and beautiful ones. As clients come to me interested in outdoor events, I always ask them to give me their vision of what they want and we often discuss heat lamps, fans, and tents that can be rented from outside vendors in the event of rain or other weather conditions.
How do you work with clients?
HS: When I sit down with clients I ask them many questions, what’s going to take place that day, what staffing will we need, what type of food. Some brides for example come in and they have everything planned out and really need our venue, while others want my knowledge and ideas on everything. I see people with a variety of budgets, some with unlimited funds and some that will be very limited. Our weddings are usually a bit more extravagant but we’ve had corporate events that are as extravagant as a wedding, we really do have all ends of the spectrum. We can customize events and advise our clients on ways to cut costs. There are so many things that can be done DIY that save money. Some clients can pay an extra fee to have more of my involvement in the event.
Talk about being at the event.
HS: Clients often feel more comfortable if I’m there and I can help keep our staff and event on track. Sometimes I clean off a table, help wash dishes, make more salad or whatever needs to be done behind the scenes. Sometimes plans have to be changed at the last minute. There are always things that come up and I handle because I want to satisfy the client and make sure the event is 110 percent. I can promote and market our business until I’m blue in the face but we have to deliver and sometimes it’s the little things that make a big impression.
Talk about making sales calls.
HS: Word of mouth is still our biggest marketing tool; satisfied clients who return to us to handle another event. Many of our brides have first attended an event here while attending William Woods, Westminster or the University of Missouri. In the past month or so, I’ve been trying to get out a day a week and make cold calls and sales calls to businesses and associations. I stop at random places and leave my business card and information and follow up with a telephone call. I am trying to get involved in more community events through the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce and am an Ambassador. It’s good for me to be out there and involved with the community.
What does it take to be good at the job?
HS: An outgoing personality, organizational skills, attention to detail and the ability to be a good communicator are important. At the same time, you can’t be scared to offer an opinion. You also have to be able to work with all types of clients that will come your way. Sometimes it’s not the bride but her mother who’s more challenging to work with but I always try to provide a prompt response and find a solution both before and during the event. It can sometimes be a bit overwhelming and plans change at the last minute but even if it’s a bad day, it’s important to keep a smile on your face. The key is to satisfy our clients and to find out ways to do what they want.
What’s the hardest part of the job?
HS: It can be very demanding. I read an article recently where event planner was ranked number two as the 10 most stressful jobs. And it can be. I used to have clients calling me at all hours of the night and I would answer, but at some point you have to shut off for a while. My family is very important to me, too. I have two little girls, aged 3 and 1, and my husband is in the military and he was gone for many months so it’s a lot of juggling. I’m lucky to be able to work for a company that offers flexibility and support. I’m also a runner and that helps keep my mind and my body healthy.
What’s most rewarding?
HS: The self satisfaction of happy clients that have a great experience with us and come back and talk about how great the event turned out and then come back to us for another event. I really love my job.