Wiki defines event management as “the application of project management to the creation and development of large scale events. It involves studying the brand, identifying the target audience, devising the event concept, planning the logistics, and coordinating the technical aspects before actually launching the event”…which is also very accurate.
Many ‘non event types’ think that designing and producing an event is easy, isn’t it? Just find a venue, come up with a good theme, get some food and drink, book a band, and send the invites out on time.
Unfortunately, like many things that seem simple creating a successful event requires a lot of hard work and a diverse range of skills and experiences from project planning to budgets.
The UK’s event industry is a vital contributor to the UK economy.
In 2016/17, spending on events in the UK alone was £39.1 billion, contributing a massive 35% to the UK’s visitor economy. It is also the 16th largest employer in the UK for example.
And of course, the UK event industry is important for making those connections vital not only to the economy, but also to communities – whether international, national and local, between businesses and their clients, businesses and other businesses, service users with service providers or connecting sectors, such as charity, health and education, with other sectors.
With over 25,000 event businesses and over 530,000 people employed in events, the UK event industry isn’t just more important than you’d first think, it’s also much broader, as the types of events currently popular in the UK demonstrate:
Parties, Awards, Launches, First Nights and VIP events – from Leicester to Times Square.
Product launches – from a celebrity perfume to a new washing powder.
Sports events – from the Olympics to local charity football matches.
Meetings, Roadshows, Conferences and Education – from IBM to TED Talks.
Weddings – from your own, family and friends’ weddings, to a Royal wedding.
Festivals and Concerts – from ‘T’ in the Park and Glasto to Latitude and Wilderness
Charity events – from Sports Relief to The Moonwalk to The Marathon.
When you think that any and all sectors, across business, health, education, charity, sport, hospitality, leisure and tourism also run events to make their own connections, it’s small wonder that event management is predicted to grow to £50 billion by 2020!
[Event statistics source: Business Visits and Events Partnership]
Understanding that event management is a major UK industry, and knowing what types of events could be included is vital for any would-be event planner. However, it’s also essential to realise what’s involved when it comes to designing and producing an event. Whether you’re organising a friend’s wedding or a multi-national conference, essential tasks will include:
Understanding objectives – what is the purpose of the event? What experience do we want people to have? Planning an event is impossible without clear objectives.
Establishing timelines – determining what has to happen and when. Any large event involves complex time management, scheduling and coordination of other people’s activity – such as catering, digital and technological set up and venue preparation.
Selecting a venue – selecting a venue may seem simple but the importance of finding the right venue should not be underestimated. This involves research, contract and cost negotiation and building working relationships.
Sourcing and managing suppliers – every event involves a range of suppliers. From caterers to lighting, diverse suppliers need contacting, short-listing, negotiating costs with and finalising contracts. From there, efficient management of all suppliers, ensuring they fulfil their roles on time and within budget, is essential to the success of the event.
Managing budgets – probably second only to having clear objectives comes effective budget management. Delivering a great event is easy with unlimited funds, but great management is required to produce an event within a constrained budget.
Marketing and communication – it’s never a case of if you build it they will come: delivering an audience requires marketing the promise of what the event will deliver! Today this involves various channels across direct mail, social media and digital marketing.
Managing risk – events are complex, as having many elements contributing to an event means multiple possible points of failure. Understanding what the risks are, the likelihood of each one arising, strategies to minimise risk and developing a robust contingency plan in the event of problems is a non-negotiable task in event management.
Thinking sustainably – making decisions in the event planning process that consider the social and environmental impact.
Knowing what’s involved is essential, but managing and delivering an event efficiently and successfully requires a considerable range of skills.
Non-negotiable skills you need to establish a successful future in event management include (but certainly aren’t limited to)…
An eye for detail – in events, the devil is indeed in the detail and every detail matters! This includes keeping track of all details required to do your own work efficiently, whilst also enabling other people to understand exactly what’s required of them – and when!
Organisation – building on the ability to do the right thing at the right time, organisation includes having the capability to organise others, as well as your own tasks and schedules.
Creativity – creativity isn’t only important for designing the ‘look and feel’ of every event, but also in coming up with solutions to the inevitable problems.
Planning and rehearsal – plan, plan, plan…rehearse, rehearse and rehearse.
Multitasking – one minute you may be booking a circus act, the next talking to the CEO of a global company – the event planner role is a minefield of multitasking.
Budgeting – from managing excel spreadsheets and having a clear view of spending to negotiating affordable prices, effective budget management is a skill for success in event management.
Team player – working with or managing a team is an essential skill – without successful teamwork, no event can deliver, or be delivered, effectively.
People skills – with every event relying on a diverse group of people, your ability to inspire, relate to and communicate with anyone (from clients to caterers and crew) is crucial.
Developing those skills to deliver successful events isn’t for the faint-hearted – but it is for those who like a role where anything can happen! As such, event management is…
Hard work – From the attention to detail involved, to stringent budgeting and negotiating designing and producing events requires a lot of hard work.
Constant change – The events industry is always evolving to meet new demands as people’s expectations of events change. Technology too is lately impacting on the nature and delivery of events, so every event will be different and will contain unique challenges.
Glamorous and fun – the fast pace of the events industry means work is never dull and often great fun, bringing the possibility of working in incredible locations and even with famous people, to add a touch of glamour.
Rewarding – event management differs from many jobs in that the work has clear end point, so you get to see all the hard work realised. Often feedback from those involved in the event is immediate, so you know you’ve done a good job.
Of course, another way to explore what being an event planner’s really like is to read some real-life experiences! Michael Heipel’s blog post about why he loves working in events offers useful insights as to what life’s like as an event manager.
Getting started literally requires just a first step and most commonly it’s on one of the following paths:
If you’re passionate about a career in events then volunteer. Volunteering in events offers a real-world experience of what’s involved in putting events together, invaluable for experience and portfolio building. Volunteering also brings you credibility with potential employers and allows you to see whether working in events is for you.
Over 70 universities in the UK offer a degree course in event management.
Courses and Training
There are plenty of dedicated event management training courses available. Whether you’re starting from scratch, have already taken a degree or want to change careers, we have developed a range of accredited event management training covering the spectrum from Foundation, to Diploma, to Postgraduate levels. All of our courses offer a learning experience which is actually quicker than traditional university routes and includes that vital industry experience to support the start of your career as an event planner.
So now you know what event management really is, we’ll give the final word to our own Claire Derrick, Director of Education for Event Academy:
“Event management is the process by which events are conceived, planned, created and assessed. Events are brought to life by the project management of a series of well thought out plans and tasks.
Events are experiential by their nature. So management of them means that you must immerse yourself in the event, and not just tick actions off a list. Good event management requires flexibility, strength of character and an ability to connect with people from all walks of life.”