Researching venues, contacting caterers, communicating with vendors, lining up speakers, managing registration—those are just a few of the tasks planners have to take care of for their events. If you feel like there are never enough hours in the day to get your work done, you may want to think about enlisting the services of a virtual assistant. Companies such as eaHelp and Zirtual employ hundreds of U.S.-based assistants—many with specific skills in event planning, marketing, and social media—who are ready to help planners, whether it's for several hours each day or just a few hours each month.
“I love having the extra help with time-consuming tasks, like guest flight-tracking for destination events, keeping internal documents updated, and re-ordering supplies,” says Stefanie Miles, owner of Dallas-based Stefanie Miles Events, a full-service event design and planning company. “Delegating tasks frees me up to spend my time and energy directly with clients and creative partners.”
Miles has been a Zirtual client for three months, using her assistant for both personal and professional tasks. She says the biggest challenge was learning to delegate, but doing so has allowed her to focus on growing her business. The key to a successful working relationship with a virtual assistant is clear communication about your needs and expectations, which can usually takes place through phones calls, emails, or text messages. “Some clients arrange one call a week on Monday mornings and spend 20 minutes explaining what they are looking for and let their assistants run with it for the week,” said Shoshana Bennett, Zirtual’s marketing manager. “Others are in communication every day. Some use it project-based and others use it for day-to-day needs.”
Here are examples of the types of tasks a virtual assistant can manage:
1. Calendar. Your assistant can manage, schedule, and confirm your appointments if you use a cloud-based calendar system.
2. Email. Think of how much time you spend managing your inbox. You can set up your account so your virtual assistant can screen messages, respond, and forward to you messages that require your direct attention.
3. Research. Let your virtual assistant do the initial digging to find venues, vendors, transportation options, entertainment, speakers, gift items, and more.
4. Travel. Your assistant can handle travel arrangements for you, your speakers, and others.
5. Project management. If you use a collaborative event planning system, such as Quickmobile’s Mobile Planner, Planning Pod, or Goombal, you can give a virtual assistant access to manage aspects of the planning, track deadlines, and verify completed tasks.
6. Budgets. Turn over responsibility for expense and revenue tracking and invoicing to your assistant.
7. Communication. Put your assistant in charge of outgoing and incoming communication with attendees, speakers, sponsors, vendors, and others.
8. Proofreading. Use your virtual assistant as a second set of eyes to check all written materials and graphics.
9. Social media. Share login information so your virtual assistant can post content and respond to comments on sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube.