The Difference Between an Expo Management Company and a Party Planner

the difference between an expo management company and a party planner


Most of us can think of that one person in our social circle that seems to possess superhuman abilities when it comes to pulling off what feels impossible to the rest of us. A mishmash of Martha Stewart and David Tutera, this imaginable acquaintance can create a party that will be the cause celebre of everyone around. While it may appear that all came together by the brain and inspiration of one person, we all know that it takes a village of skilled craftsmen, shared ideas, and possibly a trip or twelve to a discount megastore. It takes expertise to pull an event together and the type of event will dictate what specific skill set is needed to ensure success. Does the event require the finesse of a party planner or one that calls for the adeptness of an event manager?

The terms event manager and party planner are often innocently and wrongly used in conjunction with one another. Although certain skills may overlap, both are noticeably different with regard to how it functions. These important distinctions can help clear up any confusion future clientele may have with regard to expectations and needs. For an Expo Manager, it’s important that clients know the difference between a manager and a planner so that everyone is is on the same page. No one wants to waste time or money because of a simple yet crucial misunderstanding of terminology. The following will outline what the differences are for clients and why that knowledge should navigate their next event.

Breaking It Down

While the terms party and event may have similar working definitions, it doesn’t establish the full context and nature of the description. Oftentimes, too much is left up for interpretation. Merriam-Webster describes an event as a “noteworthy happening,” an “occurrence,” and a “social occasion”. It goes on to define a party as a “social gathering,” such as a “birthday party,” or “dinner party”. takes it a step further and adds, “invited guests, [at a private home] for conversation, refreshments, entertainment, etc.”  So while a party could be considered an event, an event is not indicative of a party.

Another important distinction is the purpose of the event. A party is a social gathering that is not business related, such as a wedding party or a retirement party.  A corporate party or a business party could be considered an event since the intent is, usually, to generate revenue for a particular cause. 

Now, let’s go beyond the first terms and break down the second terms, planner, and manager to further contrast them. A planner helps with the creative conception of a party and guides the decision-making process prior to the event. The planner is there to assist a client by creating a cohesive theme.  An event manager creates and develops larger scale events from a project management standpoint. There are numerous components involved with managing an event and it takes all of those components working together seamlessly to execute the event according to plan. Management requires overseeing crews that have been delegated with various tasks, as well as handling same day logistics.

Since Expo Managers and Party Planners differ in how they function, this also means that they invariably have different vendor partners. Since decoration is considered the quintessence of party planning, Party Planners will have partnerships with local businesses that provide linens, chairs, dinnerware, and floral. Contrastingly, Expo Managers rely more on logistical partners such as, housing companies, audio and visual contractors, and food vendors.  

The Wrong Impression

It’s easy to get the wrong impression on what services business offers. Part of their job is to provide transparency and clarity on what they can and cannot do. Because there are similarities between what a party planning business and an expo management company (EMC) might offer, it’s essential to make obvious what is not included. Doing so will spare both parties the annoyance of unclear or unmet expectations. The subsequent clarifications should dispel any imprecise ideas someone might have with an EMC:

  • An EMC does not plan parties. This includes birthdays, graduations, etc.
  • Equipment is not available for rent. Equipment such as tables, chairs, props, podiums, etc..are all provided by separate vendor partners.   
  • An EMC is not limited to working with persons local to the event. These events can be located anywhere around the country and may choose anyone to partner with.  

A Clear Choice

When a person can differentiate between what their choices are it becomes easier to make a thoughtful decision. It’s often those detailed distinctions that are the determining factors in the selection making process. Knowledge creates the confidence to be thoroughly decisive resulting in a more favorable outcome. Everyone can breathe a bit easier knowing that they share the same understanding.