In Alternative Careers, Kool Kanya explores unique and lesser-known fields to give you insight into a more adventurous world of livelihoods! In this guide, we’re discussing how to become a date planner in India.
Love is everywhere. In the air. In movies. In literature. And… in our careers?
If you wear your heart on your sleeve and can balance the sweetness of planning an occasion with the organisation of a small army, then date planning or opening a date planning business is a great career path for you.
This career, with its small-scale twist on event management, is brand new territory in India. But what better time to to start than when the market is niche and the providers few and far in between?
Especially if you are an event planner and are looking for an alternate career, this could just be the right leap for you. Becoming a date planner is one of the alternative careers for an event planner.
So, Grab your pens, your notebooks and your calendars — it’s time to set a date learn how to become a date planner!
Table Of Contents
- What Is A Date Planner?
- Who Can Be A Date Planner?
- How To Become A Date Planner In India?
- How To Grow Your Date Planning Business
- How Much Does A Date Planner Earn?
What Is A Date Planner?
A date planner is someone who helps others plan their dates – romantic or otherwise – by creating personalised experiences based on their clients’ likes, dislikes and vision. They make the framework, organise and book everything for a client, who just has to show up to the venue. It is almost like being a specialised event planner.
These experiences could involve planning the perfect date night, a special occasion with the family, wedding proposals and bridal showers, or just celebrating milestones with an intimate gathering.
Date planners take the date from start to finish; strategising the planning, organising the set-up, and executing the perfect experience. They base the aesthetic and ambience of the experience on their clients’ story, details and budget.
Who Can Be A Date Planner?
To become a date planner or to start a date planning business, you need to have a few things. First, you need to have the heart of a romantic and the skills of an event manager, along with an entrepreneurial bent of mind.
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Here’s a non-exhaustive list of skills and abilities that can ease your way to starting a date planning business or provide date planning service in India:
Empathy And A Love For Love
To create occasions people love for people they love, you need to be able to understand and glean your clients’ desires and vision. Possessing a good emotional quotient, and putting it to task is an important skill for any date planner.
When a date planner wears their heart on their sleeve, they are more likely to be able to make a client feel more comfortable and share their date night hopes and dreams with them.
An Interest In Entrepreneurship
As a date planner, you don’t need any commercial or professional event management qualifications, but it definitely is desirable to have an entrepreneurial spirit. This means basic knowledge of marketing, having interest in promoting and growing your business, keeping sales and accounts in order, and building strong customer relations to grow and build a successful date plannning business.
Logistical Soundness And Attention To Detail
If there is one thing a date planner needs to be armed with, it is their own physical notebook version of a date planner. By this, we mean that you need to be highly organised, with an eye for detail and the ability to execute what you promise.
A good date planner knows that memorable occasions take a whole cast and crew, and a lot of backstage effort to pull off.
You need to be able to delegate, coordinate, think on your feet and be prepared for anything that might crop up mid-execution.
Aesthetic Sensibility And Creative Vision
Date planners have to be able to identify the look and feel a client wants for their experience. Then they need to be able to translate that into an executable creative vision that can be achieved within the budget the client desires.
A good date planner spends time and effort trawling Pinterest, making mood boards, and scouting and chasing vendors to get what their clients wish for.
Being able to communicate with everyone from clients to vendors to service providers is a must for a good date planner. Offshoots of these skills, such as the ability to negotiate prices and network effectively, are also important to have.
This skill will also come in handy when you have to get investors to back you up on your venture to start a date planning business.
How To Become A Date Planner In India?
We spoke to Varnika Aggarwal, the Founder and CEO at All About Love, who has both the practical experience and the industry know-how to help you understand how you can become a date planner.
How To Start Out As A Date Planner
Like any other business, a date planner must have a business plan and strategy.
- Decide what occasions you want to plan, and how. Is it just date nights, or all kinds of occasions? Are there different packages, or is it fully customised? Will the clients get involved at every step, or just the ideation? Are you going for budget experiences or luxury ones?
- Learn who your audience is. This will help you in making a small marketing budget, develop a marketing strategy, and also in how you deal with customers.
- Research your competitors. Although there are very few date planners in India, it’s a good idea to check out their marketing, pricing, aesthetic and delivery.
- Make a list of your vendors. You will have to scout a variety of vendors and back-ups as well to deliver quality food, decors, gifts and anything else.
- Create a branding strategy. How you present yourself to the world, and to potential customers, matters. Here’s a quick guide on building a brand story.
Now, you are ready to start setting up your business!
Processes To Set Up Your Date Planning Business
All About Love is one of the first such businesses in India, and Varnika has a ton of insight into setting up as a date planner. Here are the steps you need to follow to set up a succesful date planning business as an alternative career option.
1. Do Market Research: Conduct extensive research about all the latest trends in the experience industry, and make it a part of your business plan to keep up with fresh ideas and concepts. Look at what your fellow date planner competitors are doing and creating.
2. Create Your Packages/Services: Start with some basic packages/services, and you can expand your offerings as your business grows.
Once you decide what kind of services you want to offer, make a list of everything you will need to make your experiences successful from A to Z. This includes venues, menus, equipment you will require, gifting options, decors vendors, packaging and branding materials, and anything else.
Make sure you maintain an excel sheet with all this information and update it as and when there are any changes.
Pro tip: Test these out on your family and friends to figure out the timelines and processes, as well as to build a portfolio.
3. Set Up Your Store Front: Think of a name for yourdate planning business, and create either a website or a business account on Instagram. You can use the app’s business features, such as user insights and promotions, to your advantage. Making a unique logo is also a must!
Plus, make branding materials such as logo stickers and business cards. You can get all of these designed by a professional on the Kool Kanya Marketplace.
4. Register Your Date Planning Business: Do you need to register your date planning business? Yes, you do. Regestering for it might sound like a cumbersome task but use Kool Kanya’s simple guide to make it feel a lot simpler. The documents needed are listed below.
5. Test And Document Your Services: To ensure that you offer high quality experiences, you need to test out all aspects of the packages you offer. This will also allow you to document them to show potential clients samples.
You will need to create mock-ups of various types of experiences, make samples of the dishes on your menu, and get decors samples from vendors. Remember to take decent quality images of each individual element and the whole set up.
6. Figure Out Vendors And Employees: Make sure you have your vendors lined up for every single step of the execution, and that you have adequate help to set it all up. You will likely need to hire at least one other person on a part-time or a full-time basis. This will depend on how much help you need, and how many experiences you are planning at a time.
7. Set Up Payment Methods: You can set up a business UPI account to carry out transactions from your client for providing date planning services, as they are the easiest way to conduct business. Another option is to request online bank transfers, if customers do not have a UPI app.
8. Start Spreading The Word: You’ve become a date planner and its time to let everyone know! After building some packages, start marketing your business by asking family and friends to recommend your service to their networks. You can also share your Insta page or website on your personal social media. Make sure to mention every aspect of your service in detail.
Pro tip: Make a PDF or JPEG version of your services, and broadcast it to your local WhatsApp contacts.
9. Get Clients And Start Planning: Once you have started getting clients, make sure you are ready to get going. You will have to be disciplined, dedicated, and willing to take on the stress of event planning. Plans, back-up plans, and plans for plans are all part and parcel of date planning!
10. Be Your Own Customer Service: To build a solid, returning customer base, you will have to maintain a relationship with your clients.
Keeping your clients in the loop about their experience, and taking the time to hear their concerns and reviews can help you do better and build a loyal clientele.
(Continue reading below.)
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How To Register Your Date Planning Business: Documents, Process, Cost, Compliances, Etc.
Here’s guide on registering a date planning business or your own date planning service.
If you are the only person running your business, then you can register your business as a sole proprietorship. Otherwise, you can opt to register as a partner firm, or incorporate as an LLC or LLP.
You will require the following documents to register as a sole proprietor:
- Aadhar card
- PAN card
- Bank account documents (KYC)
- Registered office proof (such as utility bills)
- Income Tax Returns of the proprietor
You will have to follow this process to register as a sole proprietor:
- Apply for business PAN.
- Name the business.
- No formal registration is required, but the proprietor will have to open a bank account in the name of the business.
- Register as a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) under MSME Act.
- Register for GST if your annual turnover exceeds ₹20 lakh.
- Optional: Getting a Shop and Establishment License.
The cost to register a sole proprietorship in India is ₹2500. A partnership firm registration costs ₹5000. If you have a minimum authorised capital of ₹1 lakh, you can register as an LLC or LLP (Incorporation), which will cost you ₹7000.
As a sole proprietor of the date planning business, you will have to file your income tax returns annually, file your GST returns if you are registered under GST, and deduct TDS and file TDS returns if you are liable for Tax Audit.
Research: Clear Tax
Here is a step-by-step guide for the registration process fo your date planning business.
How Does A Date Planner Plan Dates?
Date planning and providing a date planning service, as mentioned above, requires a lot of scheduling, organisation and logistical input. Here is what you need to do to plan a date.
1. Understand what kind of packages you can provide, and create a step-by-step to show potential clients your process transparently.
2. Create a list of everything each package entails. Keep a questionnaire for clients to fill in to understand their specific personalisation requirements. This could include what kind of event they would like, how many people they want to invite, details about the occasion or relationship being celebrated, and so on.
3. Use the answers the clients give to come up with ideas regarding the aesthetic and vibe of the experience, and discuss what they would like in terms of colours, food and decor.
4. Reach out to your vendors and get quotes for the various elements. Share them with your client and retrofit them into their budget. Once this is finalised, start placing orders.
5. Scout venues, and help clients decide which one works best for their experience. If the client prefers to have the date in their own home, make sure to get a good look at the location and see how you can decorate within those conditions.
6. Book photographers, musicians, cleaners, decorators, equipment, etc. as needed well in advance. Ensure all requirements are made known to those whose services you book, so that they can execute perfectly.
7. Create a timeline of events for the day, and a checklist to tick off everything you need to do.
8. Keep a track of all payments, and ensure you ascertain your payment system in advance. Tally your accounts after every event, and make sure your expenses and income are in order.
9. Speak with customers after the date to get feedback and collect reviews.
How To Grow Your Date Planning Business
Like every business, running a date planning service also requires one to scale up; whether horizontally or vertically.
Horizontal scaling up would be expanding one’s customer base to reach a larger audience, creating a loyal clientele, and building the hype around your business. On the other hand, vertical scaling up would involve expanding one’s packages and event size to make more profits.
To do this, one has to first find clients and then explore the scope of your date planning business.
How To Get Clients For Your Date Planning Business
Get your family and friends to spread the word, and recommend your services. Their word of mouth referrals are a great way to start your business.
Set aside a small marketing budget, and market your date planning website or Instagram page with a fully-loaded menu of your services by creating a reach campaign to get followers. You can also learn how to build an organic audience for free using this guide. (It’s all about geo-tagging, hashtags and consistent posting!).
Once you plan a couple of dates, upload reviews and positive responses on your website, or Instagram stories and make a highlight. Make sure you follow up on your clients to become a favourite and go-to date planner. Because building that one-on-one relationship with them is key to keep them coming back.
Join local Facebook and WhatsApp groups for entrepreneurs, and promote your business there. You can also reach out to local micro influencers, and plan some events for them as PR to reach a wider customer base.
Reach out to pages who curate and review local experiences, and introduce yourself kindly and request a shout out.
Start out by offering first-timer discounts. And when you have a loyal clientele, introduce referral rewards by offering discounts for recommending your services to people they know.
What Is The Scope For Date Planners In India?
Date planning is a niche, often luxury business in India. For this reason, it is best to start working from home at first to keep costs low.
Once your business is big enough, you can start hiring employees and set up a physical shop for clients to pop into.
Keep the following investments in mind while expanding your date planning business:
- Overheads on rent (equipment and storage), utilities (electricity and water), and taxes
- Employees to help you with operations and execution (part-time or full-time)
- Inventory or rent cost of decor items
- Cleaning service (you can link up with a local vendor to get it done at a discounted price) to clean up after each date
- Packaging and branding material in wholesale (stickers, receipts, etc.)
- Marketing and promotional budget (website, social media presence, ads, etc.)
- Photographers, musicians and other special service providers on an assignment basis
- A website designer on an assignment basis
- An accountant
You could even start making content for Instagram and YouTube, or create promotional podcasts to expand your reach!
How Much Does A Date Planner Earn?
Varnika says that like most service-based businesses, in date planning as well returns take time. “You will likely break even after 1 or 2 years if you collect a margin of 20-25% on your dates.”
Based on the scale of the experiences you plan, and your vendor and service provider costs, you can make anywhere between ₹10000 to upwards of ₹1 lakh for organising a date.
The prices you set should include the base cost (including vendor costs, delivery and overheads) + the value you place on your labour.
All of this is dependent on how successful you plan your dates, how you obtain and retain client satisfaction, how you ensure quality control, and how you meet your deliverables.
It is recommended to keep a well-maintained accounts book, because if you are earning anything upwards of ₹50,000 a month, you will have to disclose your income for tax purposes.
A love for love doesn’t have to be the stuff of daydreams and fanciful hopes. Turn your romantic thinking into a career that helps others love love as much as you do and start an alternate career as a date planner with your own date planning service.
If you’re the sort of person whom others look toward to organise their parties and occasions, you can put those skills to use and make some money with them. Go forth, make occasions matter!
With all this in mind, and all the information we have put together in this guide, we hope you will venture into the world of alternate career paths and start out your own date planning service armed with the knowledge and skills to succeed!
Additional contribution: Shayri Bhattacharya
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