How to Hire the Best Receptionist for Your Event Planning Business

Samir Sampat

In the business of event planning, you spend a lot of time communicating and handling routine admin tasks like scheduling, taking payments, creating contracts for events, and so forth. And then, you’re still tasked with spending time with your clients helping plan the events—you certainly can’t do it all. That’s where a receptionist can come in handy.

The biggest issue for those in event planning is that the majority of the industry is comprised of individual event planners or small agencies that offer various planning services. Thus, their budgets and resources are much more limited, and you may not even think you have room for a receptionist on your payroll—especially if you don’t even have a “payroll”, per se. 

But just think for a minute about how much time you could free up if you had someone else fielding all the frontline calls, inquiries, and other needs of your business. Not only that, but they could handle correspondence, social media, and other tasks that you don’t have the time to dedicate to, giving you the chance to maximize your time and give more attention to the events and clients that you’re working with currently.

Today, consumers don’t want to wait. They’re not as willing to give you a few days, or even a few hours, to respond to their simple questions and inquiries. They want answers, instantly, and on as many channels as possible. That means you’ll need to invest in omnichannel customer service solutions and if you want to make the most of it, hire someone to manage it all for you (or, hire a team of “someones” when you partner with Smith.ai—more on that later). 

A receptionist is trained and experienced in multitasking, administrative tasks, communications, and all the things that you probably dread taking care of. They can juggle several tasks, help your event planning business improve communications, and more. Finding the right person for the job is the biggest factor here. Fortunately, we’ll help you with that throughout this guide. 


How much will a receptionist cost me?

This is the million-dollar question for just about everyone. People don’t want to have to think about money, but budgets are a thing, and hiring people costs money. Fortunately, you’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good receptionist. Currently, in the United States, the average receptionist garners $10-$14 per hour. This depends on their experience, region, and other factors, and only accounts for their salary. You’ll also have to factor in the average cost of hiring an employee ($4,000, give or take, according to recent research), as well as benefits and any other costs involved here. 

It can be expensive for a solopreneur or small business to hire a receptionist. Fortunately, you don’t have to hire someone in-house. You can choose to outsource to an independent contractor or a receptionist service, which you can use on a full-time or part-time basis, just as you would someone you hired to work as an employee of your company. The growing competition is changing the landscape for the services available, and the Internet is making it easy to find better talent by outsourcing for those who have limited access based on their location. 

You’re in the business of working with people, but your planning and communications plates are already overflowing. What if you’re on location at a multi-day event? Do you really want to be fielding all the calls and messages coming in, too? That’s just one example of where having a receptionist can come in handy, and why outsourcing someone specifically for the needs you have may be a better option for event planners. 


The value of hiring a receptionist

Although the needs of each business are slightly different, certain tasks and duties exist in any organization. This is also the case for the perks that come with hiring a receptionist—regardless of the industry, the benefits are the same. First and foremost, you can get a receptionist to handle exactly what you want, no matter how few or how many services that includes. 

Receptionists don’t just answer phones. They can also help manage scheduling, streamline workflows, remind you of events and appointments, and handle so many other things while you’re taking care of managing your events:

  • They certainly can answer and route phone calls, take messages, and return calls as needed
  • Receptionists can respond to all kinds of general inquiries and questions about event planning services and your business
  • They can create memos and other correspondence, including emails, newsletters, reports, and other content
  • Schedule, confirm, and manage appointments, events, and consultations 
  • Maintain the office, supplies, and equipment
  • Coordinate clients, vendors, contractors, and others to build solid relationships 
  • Welcome visitors to the business (either in-person or virtually)
  • Handle other office or administrative tasks as you need them to

You can pick and choose exactly what you want from a receptionist. You might even find that some professionals and services offer better solutions than you thought you could get or offer features that you didn’t even think about. Take the time to compare what you want to what they offer so that you can get the best person for the job and maximize the value of this investment. 


Outsourcing vs. hiring in-house

The first question that most people have when considering a receptionist is whether they need to hire someone to work for them directly, or if they should contract the service out. Then, there’s the twofold part of the contracting option: choose an independent contractor, or hire a virtual receptionist service?

These are all considerations in your decision, and ultimately, only you can decide what’s best. Fortunately, there are some common considerations that can help you decide. Ask yourself:

  1. Can I afford to hire someone as an employee? Am I prepared to bring on an employee? If you are not prepared, financially or otherwise, to add a person to your team, outsourcing might be the better option. Don’t forget that you have to factor in more than just their pay, too—think about hiring, training, benefits, and so forth. 
  2. Does my business need a full-time receptionist on staff? In some instances, your business might be in a place where you only need part-time support, or you might just not need to have someone physically present at all times. Outsourcing and virtual receptionists offer a lot more value here. 
  3. Am I looking for better services or talent for a lower price tag? In the case of outsourcing, you can get more for your money, in most cases, when you hire someone virtually. You will have access to talent from around the world and be able to pick and choose what you get. Plus, you’ll be able to trust that as your needs change, the people you’re working with grow and change with them. 


These questions can help point you in the right direction of where to source your new receptionist. Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer here. It’s about what’s right for your event planning business. If you need a lot of help, hiring a receptionist in-house might be the way to go. Or you could choose a virtual receptionist service that can do a lot more, and do it all remotely at a fraction of the cost of hiring someone. 


Qualities to look for in a receptionist

Regardless of how you go about hiring your receptionist, you need to make sure that they have certain qualities and skills. There are obvious hard skills they will require, like software and hardware competence, but honestly, the soft skills are probably more important. These can’t be “taught”—people either have them or they don’t. 

These are skills like time management, communication skills, multitasking abilities, and things like the ability to self-start and switch gears easily. These are skills you’d want in just about any employee, as a matter of fact, but they’re far more valuable here. 

Experience can be helpful but may not be a dealbreaker if someone fits the bill otherwise. When looking for receptionists, consider skills and qualities like:

  • Friendly, personable demeanor
  • Good conflict resolution and problem-solving skills
  • Confident and eager to learn
  • Independent, but also able to work as part of the team
  • Quick learner 
  • Easily adaptable to changes
  • Multitasking skills
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment
  • Motivated, driven, self-starter

In addition to the actual job skills required of a receptionist, these are assets that you cannot go without. In many cases, this is what leads people to hiring a virtual receptionist service. It’s easier to get all of the best qualities and the services that you need when you have a team of people doing the work, as opposed to just one person. 

Of course, it doesn’t matter who you hire or how, so long as you find the right person with the right skills. Keep these things in mind when you’re looking for the perfect solution for your event planning business. 


Receptionist hiring FAQs

Before we close, we want to go over a few quick FAQs that should sum up the information above and possibly cover things we might have missed. That way, you’ll have a quick refresher so that you can get started on deciding what’s best for your business. 

When should I hire a receptionist?

If you’re asking this question, it’s probably time. If you are missing too many calls and messages, finding dissatisfied clients who waited too long to hear back, or having other mishaps, it’s probably time to hire someone to help. Ultimately, you have to decide when the right time is, but you can always benefit from having someone in this position so that you can focus on your events and deliver that professional service that your clients deserve. 

Does my receptionist need event planning experience?

No, you don’t necessarily need to hire someone that has any experience with event planning. Those skills might be a bonus, but as long as this person can handle communications and admin tasks, and deliver a personable, professional image for your business, that’s what counts. 

Should I hire an individual or a service?

This is not a question that has a blanket answer—it’s going to be different for every business. When you’re considering the value of a contractor versus a receptionist service, you’ll have to think about what works for you. If you just need someone in an assistant-type role, a contractor might be fine. However, if you want dynamic solutions for communications and administrative tasks, a virtual receptionist service (like the dedicated team at Smith.ai) is the better solution.

What’s the difference between a traditional receptionist and a virtual one?

In this instance, “virtual” just refers to the fact that your receptionist (or service) works remotely and provides services over the Internet and through the cloud. They can integrate with your software and tools to deliver top-rate receptionist services from their office, for your business, no matter where in the world you are. This gives you the chance to find better talent since you’re not limited by location. 


Consider the virtual receptionist services of the team at Smith.ai 

If you’d rather not deal with hiring someone in-house, or if you just don’t have the need or means, we’ve got you covered. Our 24/7 virtual receptionists can provide a custom solution for all of your needs, from answering phone calls and live chat to fielding SMS and Facebook messages, scheduling, and so much more. 

Our team will act as an extension of your event planning business to handle everything that you need, and we’ll help you create the ideal strategy to manage all of it, no matter how big or small those needs might be. We can create a custom communications solution that will help you take your business to the next level, and we’ll be there with you every step of the way. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation and find out how the 24/7 virtual receptionists at Smith.ai can improve your customer service and communications. You can also find us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484. 


Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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