Elizabeth Swift

Event Perspectives with Elizabeth Swift

We've had the pleasure of working with Elizabeth Swift to create memorable events. She has been providing full-service event production for over 30 years, catering to the needs of Texas' leading corporations and legendary hostesses while offering turnkey services for catering, wedding design, flowers, event management, party rentals and more. Her team's dedication to excellence in quality, service and integrity have opened doors to produce events honoring the last 4 sitting Presidents of the United States, a Hall of Fame event in Cooperstown and for most major retailers and corporations headquartered in Houston.

Elizabeth was kind enough to share lessons learned in her career as well as  advice for anyone looking to host a successful event. Because of her experience, she also has some practical tips for those wanting to pursue a career in event planning.

Tell us how long have you been in this industry? And what has been the key to your success?

I’ve been in business for 31 spectacular years! I started out with catering in 1987, and then progressed to having a turnkey event business with full service party rentals, event planning and production, flowers and wedding planning.  I would say the key to my success has been maintaining high standards in all aspects of the business, with an emphasis on customer service. 98% of our catered food is made in house, and we strive to have lovely, well-maintained, updated rentals and décor.  We deliver excellence and give customers what they can’t get anywhere else, and specialize in service, quality and innovation.  Additionally, remaining focused on my vision for company growth while tackling projects one at a time, has helped me accomplish goals and grow my business.

Another major key to my success is the team I have at Swift + Company. Our pastry chef has been with us since day 1, and we strive to have a “team” atmosphere among the divisions and offices.

Where do you feel you can cut costs? And where should you not cut corners? This could apply to your business as well as to events.

Cutting costs is a tricky concept, and it is specific to each event. However, we find that having a cocktail or dinner buffet instead of a seated dinner allows for more room in the budget.  Another way to reduce costs is to limit the number of guests or shorten the time frame of an event.  I often suggest that hosts not cut costs via food or staff as these two aspects of an event are the most evident to guests.

What are the three top criteria in order to plan and execute a successful event?

The basic services we provide to produce an event are food, beverages, staff, rentals, décor and flowers. But when it comes to the planning process, I would say the top three concepts to focus on are creativity, logistics, and organization.

What advice do you give to new event planners?

It takes time, perseverance, dedication, and passion to be successful in this industry.  While party planning seems glamourous and fun, it was ranked by Forbes magazine as the 5th most stressful job in 2017.  I suggest that new event planners get to know the industry by working for another event company, or working in a banquet department or catering company.  It is valuable to know the talent and production resources in the industry such as lighting and sound companies, entertainment specialists, rental and décor companies, venue spaces, and photographers. Knowing what each of those companies specializes in will assist an event planner in organizing all kinds of events.  

Networking is a vital part of the events industry, and having the right list of contacts at your disposal will impact everything about your events. It will affect what vendors you can get in touch with, the suppliers you have access to, your guest speakers and venue choices, and even your clients.