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Hot Idea: Party Planning for Teens

Now that TV's Sweet Sixteen has shown teens how cool their parties can be, event and party planning for teens is a hot business.

Blame MTV's My Super Sweet 16 for showing teens nationwide the extremes the super-wealthy go to for a child's coming-of-age soiree. American teens, who number more than 70 million, want what's hot at their parties--from bar and bat mitzvahs to sweet 16s, quinceaneras and other coming-of-age rites. Whether you start a new specialty, add teen parties to your existing event planning business, or specialize in peripheries like security or entertainment, teen parties have an angle for everyone.

Party planner Marley Majcher, 37, who founded Pasadena, California-based The Party Goddess! Inc. in 2000, suggests walking the fine line between making teens happy and making their purse-string-holding parents even happier. "You have to be a really good listener and see yourself as a liaison," she says.

To succeed, bone up on trends. Majcher, whose company brought in $1 million this year, notes that lounge setups are in vogue for teens. Because music and entertainment are paramount to any teen shindig, hooking up with hot DJs in your area can help you break into the market. And you'll definitely want to market in areas with high disposable income.

Getting Started
Ready to start the fun with your own teen party planning business? Follow these startup tips:

  • Become a teen trend expert. If you're going to establish yourself as the go-to planner for the hottest teen shindigs, you'd better bone up on your teen knowledge, notes Marley Majcher, 37-year-old founder of The Party Goddess, a party-planning business in Pasadena, California. What are the hot fashions? Who are the hot musicians? Where are the cool party spots? You want to be able to design party themes and special touches that are cutting edge for your target marketplace.
  • Learn expert negotiating skills. It's important to keep the parents happy, since they're footing the bill, but still be seen as an expert to be looked up to by the teenage guest of honor. Hone your communication skills so you can steer your clients to great parties within their parents" requirements, all while avoiding interfamilial conflict.
  • Know your marketplace. Determine how you should price--a flat fee or a percentage of the final party cost? Local customs can help you decide. Also check out the International Special Events Society for information on how to become a Certified Special Events Professional, and consider attending a convention of local event planners.
  • Cross-promote. See if you can forge an alliance with local record stores, DJs and other vendors within your target demographic. Check out country clubs, too, suggests Majcher, as many affluent parents might be connected to such groups and likely to hold functions in those locations. You might even volunteer to decorate or help organize a school's prom in exchange for branding opportunities, just to get your name out there with the teen set.
  • Get creative. The benchmark teen desire is to stand out while fitting in--you'll need to portray that image of cool for your clients, but also give them a party that's totally unique, and totally them, notes Majcher. Your job is to create fun, so let your imagination free when thinking of themes, favors, decor, menu and the like.
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