Nashville-based event planner Randi Lesnick offers advice on surviving the upcoming Baby Boomer Retirement Party Crisis, with tips on how to hire an event planner, and how to save money when throwing a party yourself.
With the first baby boomers turning 60 this year, federal economists are predicting a significant slowing of the economy over the next decade.1 Then there’s the burden that millions of retiring boomers places on the generations that follow. Insurers are warning that “those same aging Baby Boomers will need retirement benefits, health care and nursing homes in unprecedented numbers as they age into the high-priced, high-maintenance category.”2
It’s easy to understand why economists and insurance providers industry are concerned. But for Randi Lesnick, president of the Franklin, TN-based Hospitality Consultants and Nashville‘s “Party Planner to the Stars,” there is a far more daunting question to answer when discussing the boomer retirement fallout:
Who's going to throw all these retirement parties?
For an event planner, it's tantamount to a crisis, so Lesnick is on a personal mission: to make sure our retiring workforce gets the recognition and party they deserve.
“Every occasion is a good occasion to throw a party,” says Lesnick, who has planned events for country music stars Tim McGraw, Shania Twain, Wynonna and Toby Keith, among countless others. “A retirement party can be especially important. These people have spent their lives working hard to support their families and, in many cases, have contributed to the growth of the companies they have worked for. If that company isn’t going to celebrate their contribution, than we’re going to have to do it for them.
“With a steady flow of boomers retiring over the next decade, not only is my industry going to have a lot of work to do, but the friends and family of retirees are going to have to get busy too.”
Lesnick says her 10-year-old company can't do it all, so she’s sharing her knowledge about some key things to consider when planning a retirement party.
Why hire an event planner?
“If you hire an event planner, we handle everything from beginning to end," says Lesnick. “If we do our job right you’re able to go to your party and enjoy it as a guest."
“We know where there’s room to negotiate with venues and caterers and every other aspect of the event. Plus, when you alone approach a venue or vendor, you most likely are a one shot deal for them. When an event planner approaches them, we would have either dealt with them before or can promise them lots of events in the future. If we’re pleased, there’s a potential for more repeat business.”
What questions should you ask a potential event planner when planning a retirement party, or any event for that matter?
What kind of events do you do?
How many events do you do a year?
Can you guarantee me that you personally will be at my event?
What areas do you work in? Are you strictly local, or do you plan events regionally and nationally?
Will you handle everything from beginning to end and along the way make recommendations?
Am I going to pay more if I use you than if I did it myself? Am I going to pay less if I use you?
Can I see a list of your clients and references? Can I call some of those references (including brides if it‘s for a wedding)?
If you decide to throw it yourself, what are some ways to make it special and memorable for the guest of honor while working within a budget?
“Close your eyes and imagine you’re walking into your party,” says Lesnick. “What do you see? That is your vision. Now work within your budget to make your vision happen. Determine how much money you have to spend, and how many people you want to invite. What time of day you have the party can have a huge impact on your budget; it will determine what kind of food to serve. If you can do something at 7:30 instead of 6:00, you can forego a full dinner and just serve hors d'oeuvres because the guests will have already eaten. This saves you money.
“If it’s a retirement party, remind yourself what the purpose of the party is and what you’re looking to accomplish -- celebrating the guest’s years of employment and what that person has given to his family, friends and society as a whole. Celebrate the person’s age and the era the entered the workforce, along with the life and times he has seen.
“If you’re going to serve alcohol at the event, it's always best to have the party in a place that allows you to supply your own. That can be a huge savings.”
About Randi Lesnick
Located in Franklin, TN, Randi Lesnick’s company Hospitality Consultants is a full-service meeting planning and event production management company in business for over 10 years. It represents a wide range of corporate and entertainment clients. From concept to completion, it delivers creative, well-managed successful events, executed with precision, professionalism and attention to every detail. Lesnick’s client list includes some of the giants in the entertainment industry, including Tim McGraw, Orlando Bloom, Wynonna, Toby Keith, Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley, among others. Hospitality Consultants can be reached at (615) 429-8507.
1 Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, “Boom in retirements could slow economy, Fed report predicts; If conclusions prove correct, 'it changes everything' “ By MIKE MEYERS; May 1, 2006
2 NewYorkLife.com, “The Retirement Dilemma of Generation X;” accessed online on August 7, 2006