Charged with several responsibilities, and wearing a multitude of hats, the Event Manager is an incredibly important figure, paramount to the good outcome of any type of event.
Also known as Event Planner or Event Specialist, the Event Manager literally juggles from one task to another, and might as well overview specialized Event Coordinators working on a single micro aspect of the event management under his or her guidance.
The multiple tasks of Event Managers include accounting such as budgeting and invoicing, establishing a relationship with both clients and suppliers, selecting and helping setting up venues, handling logistics, managing potential risks and incidents, and presenting post-event reports.
Event Managers can work with a bigger event company, or be stand-alone contractors.
Their role is extremely dynamic, they are leaders, decision makers, but also great interpreters of the clients’ needs: a person choosing the career of Event Manager necessarily need to be a people person, able to detect the needs and desires of their clients and translate them into a reality that will eventually need to be approved and appreciated.
From start to finish, events require a manager to take care of each aspect with a keen eye on logistics, planning, and contract negotiation; successful Event Managers are leaders with a clear vision, with a strategy in mind, and with an exceptional attention to details. During the preliminary process, they focus on each aspect knowing exactly what they want the final product to be like. They will need to work within the clients’ budget, establish timelines, coordinate staff, transportation, decorations, equipment and facilities; they will need to think about acquiring special permits, ensuring everybody’s needs are met and eventually securing the perfect execution of all aspects, in harmonious coordination.
The 5 phases of Event Management
Generally speaking, the event management field counts on 5 basic stages that are necessary for pulling off the best possible event. Even though it’s true that some rookie event managers might decide to skip a step or two, or combine them together, it is also true that it’s never a good idea to do so, even though some small size events might actually turn out perfectly fine without such detailed planning. Some bigger projects might on the other hand require additional steps, possibly specifically linked to the topic, the logistics, or the environment. That could be the case with mega events, recurring events or traveling events, while the planning of ancillary events or community events might be a little more under control. The 5 basic stages are a great starting point for every Event Manager.
- Phase 1: Research. Once the client approached the Event Manager with their project or request, it is necessary to define the goals and objectives and assess the viability of the event based on budget compared to goals and demands.
- Phase 2: Design. Event Managers and their team are now ready to work on a first draft of the event and design it to meet the goals and requirements discussed with the client. This is a creative phase that immediately precedes the actual planning and allows an initial rough sketch of the event to come to life.
- Phase 3: Planning. Basing everything on the agreed vision of the event, the Event Manager starts focusing on details and works on specific tasks such as contracting vendors, performers and speakers, selecting and hiring venues, creating and sending invitations and tracking RSVPs, communicating, marketing, branding, discussing the schedule, transportation, check-in process. The client will need to be updated and walked through the project, and a huge part of this phase is the social one: customized apps can be generated, as well as specific websites and dedicated social media pages.
- Phase 4: Event execution and coordination. All previous stages combined lead the Event Manager to this glorious day, but it is important never to let your guard down. Setting up the event might start even days before the event itself, everything will have to be checked to perfection and, alas, there will be some hiccups and unforeseen events that will require at least plan B, or even C. During the event, a professional and prepared Event Manager overviews everything and is ready to assist, solve and intervene if necessary. If the first 3 phases were followed thoroughly, the day of the event might as well be just a very pleasant day with no issues at all.
- Phase 5: Evaluation. If you thought that, once the last guest has left and the door is closed, the event was over… you were probably wrong. Exceptional Event Managers will want to sit down with their clients after the event and receive feedbacks and understand the level of satisfaction. Same can be done with attendees and guests, sending short and friendly post-event surveys. With all feedbacks in hand, the Event Manager can discuss positive and negative aspects of the event with the team and suppliers, developing a plan aiming to improve future events.
The Challenges of an Event Manager
It is impossible to summarize all potential glitches and challenges an event can generate: an Event Manager will need to be prepared literally to everything.
Oftentimes, a low budget might affect the abilities to hire people or their compensation. Understaffing is a common issue that Event Managers have to deal with, and one that unfortunately becomes obvious most of the times only on the day of the event.
Tracking is also a big challenge, as Event Managers need to be extremely precise, organized and detailed. Tracking schedules, budget modifications, attendance and contracts becomes a really big part of the stress free success of an event.
Back up plans will have to be ready to be executed at any time. Weather can require some last minute adjustments, as well as traffic problems, illnesses of performers or staff, and issues with vendors or venues.
Last but not least, Event Managers need to verify permissions, laws, and even the possible simultaneous presence of other events. Apps and programs are commonly used by Event Managers to track, verify, plan and schedule their events, functioning as virtual assistants and even collecting data for event evaluation or planning of future events, and helping with attendee engagement.
What are the Requirements of an Event Manager?
Under the burden of all these responsibilities, tasks and potential challenges, it goes without saying that Event Managers need to be people’s people, with everything under control and not leaving anything to chance. For those thinking about pursuing this career path, here a are a few points to take into consideration that define a competent and professional Event Manager:
- The ability to organize events from start to finish based on budget, requirements, audience and goals.
- Great cost effectiveness and capacity to stick to a budget.
- Promotion and marketing abilities, including but not limited to social media skills, apps, websites and MS Office.
- A detailed oriented personality, not only in the planning and execution of the event, but also in the submission of reports, accounting, paperwork, post-event analysis and global coordination.
- The ability to supervise staff and be in charge of hiring necessary personnel, with outstanding communication, sourcing and negotiating abilities.
- An innate tendency to problem solving and to be able to be the best possible mariner in a storm.
- Customer service orientation, being a team player and a leader at the same time.
- The ability to multitask and work in a fast-paced environment, together with a strong confidence and creativity.
A few tips form experienced Event Managers
When these points are not enough, experience comes in handy. The more events an Event Manager plans, the more he or she will know about the industry, about people ad about venues, vendors and suppliers.
Experienced Event Managers recommend to develop a commercial instinct, a mentality for business that allows to make difficult decisions with the head, not with the heart, even though they might be unpopular.
Event Managers should not underestimate the elevated level of stress, both physical and psychological, and take care of their bodies and their mental health. The profession requires long working hours and a constant focus that will affect them in the long term if not addressed properly.
One more tip that experienced Event Managers shared, is fruit of our modern times: using social media to follow and learn from fellow Event Managers is an incredible opportunity today. Online, Event Managers can keep up to date and find specific trainings, see new points of views, observe new ideas and trends.
In conclusion, Event Managers should have an open mind and be prepared for everything. A good strategy to cope with disappointment and disaster management is thinking that what can go wrong, well… probably will. Not being surprised but actually being ready to solve problems is a big plus that makes the difference between an Event Manager that still has a long way to go and another that has enough experience and events under their belt. Always keep your cool, be prepared and go with the flow!