People have preferred living in groups since the dawn of time, organizing ceremonies and rituals to keep themselves entertained and united. Community gatherings enabled people to stay in touch and helped keep the spirit alive in tribes. Ceremonies organized by ancient people marked the tribe’s essential moments. These rituals included chants, drumming, songs, stories, and the use of a variety of sacred objects, which triggered emotional responses. The tribal nations thus stayed loyal to their beliefs, traditions, and culture. These little gatherings eventually grew into what we know today as events. I don’t doubt that virtually everyone has engaged in some sort of event in their life. To be frank, it is hard to broadly define events, as today, people have integrated them into every aspect of their lives. I’ll describe an event as a public gathering for a particular purpose. Some common categories of events include business, social, educational, sports, entertainment, political, and so on. In this blog post, I’ll concentrate more on the details of business events’ organizational and managing processes. Types of business events include conferences, seminars, press/blog events, expos, product presentations, motivational trainings, etc. Looking at an event manager’s fundamental functions, there is a huge arsenal of skills and competencies that create every unique ceremony. The activity plan of every corporate event is as follows:
- Start of the project: approval of the event idea, date, and venue management.
- Development of a business program and search for speakers.
- Organization of catering and navigation on the site.
- Negotiations with sponsors and partners, fulfillment of obligations of the agreement.
- Preparation of technical specifications.
- Preparation of a promotional campaign for the project.
- Administration and installation of on-site processes and equipment
- Finish of the project: feedback from the team, participants, preparation of closing documents.
Dealing with the above-mentioned tasks, the following capabilities are a must: proficient communication, problem-solving, multi-tasking, teamwork/team lead, time management, delegation, and control. Surprisingly, for a little-heard-of profession, the role of event manager requires some of the most comprehensive skill sets out of any modern-day job. Let’s take a look at why this is:
Project Manager: Every corporate event is technically considered a project. For this reason, an event manager is essentially equivalent to a project manager. There are three main competency aspects that are shared by both jobs—first, strategizing and planning. In both careers, before starting the projects, the managers have to outline the decomposed project plan with strategic marks and milestones. A true event manager does not only realize the project from the organization’s perspective but also starts with the question of why the event has to take place and what are the objectives of the current event? These questions help the manager better understand the bigger picture and brief others about the event. The next responsibility which matches with a PM’s career is teamwork. In event planning, “there is no room for solo players.” An event organizer first has to take full responsibility for tracing and assisting the task achievement in specific deadlines by the team. Next, he must maintain a precise task delegation process with a fixed form of a command. Event management is considered an open system, which constantly cooperates with its environment. This means that a dedicated event planner must be ready to work with different commercial institutions, starting from high-class sponsor companies to working-class suppliers of materials and decorations. Therefore, improved communication skills are needed to cooperate with both subordinates and service providers. Third, like a project manager, masters in event management have to stick to a specific schedule. We can categorize the timeline of every event as pre/during/post schedules. The pre-event period includes the processes of preparations and planning. Examples of such steps are finding necessary suppliers, sponsors, evaluating the event location, making agreements with speakers/special guests, gathering data, logistics plan, printing needed materials, etc. One can think that there is nothing much to do during the event, but here is the part where an excellent event manager proves their skills. An experienced event planner is well aware of Murphy’s Law: anything that could go wrong, will, and plans for this. Backup supplier, insurance, availability of additional space/seats for more guests are all critical nuances that should be thought about in advance. When event participants don’t notice any errors or failures of some processes during the event, that’s a sign that the event planner has done their job. A simple example would illustrate the case. Imagine the following: there are several minutes until the grand-light show starts, and all the guests are ready to enjoy the show. The event manager goes through their final checklist. They notice that the lights are not stable, and the whole electric grid is shut in one glance. A second-rate event manager would try to find the worker responsible and, if unable to, postpone the start of the show for an undetermined time, scuttling the event. A professional would be competent enough to start the show by having a backup technician on hand supplying the building with a generator. Last but not least, conducting a successful event means that the project isn’t considered complete, even after the event concludes. Post-event period relates to the tasks like budget finalization, feedback collection, deconstruction of special decorations or requisites, discussion of failures and mistakes, evaluation, and analysis for sponsors.
Event marketing management: As marketing managers seek to increase engagement and client interest in the company’s products and services, event managers also implement different marketing strategies to stimulate the attention of the potential participants. From the marketing perspective event serves as a platform for the presentation of a product, which is usually intangible in the form of emotions or knowledge. In business events, people pay for educational material, insights, discussions of live cases, networking with like-minded people, and of course, all of this in a pleasant atmosphere with food service. At the initial stages of the event planning, it is important to distinguish a distinct PR campaign and content. PR is meant not only the relationship with the press but also constructive relationship building with the public. Finding promotion partners is a common way for an event manager to solve the promotion task partially. The event positioning strategy requires creating and describing visuals, scenarios, scripts, and creative solutions. Event manager needs to initiate a lot of smart and genuine ideas, to make the event unique. Here I would like to introduce an illustrative case of creativity that impressed me. During the break of a full-day conference involving speakers from abroad in Yerevan, I witnessed an interesting recreational activity brought by the organizers. Massage professionals did a quick 3-to-5-minute back pain treatment because of long wait times. This modest example of taking the initiative helped the event manager gain favor among attendees and served as a unique promotional tool for the massage company. A smart event planner will not only concentrate on satisfying the guests but also serve as a platform for other businesses to use.
Almost all modern marketing communication channels undertake event promotion. After establishing the overall design and target audience of the event, event managers must establish distinct messaging strategies to use in advertising campaigns. The first step is to identify the right media channels. TV, radio, email, printing materials, social media, blogs, and influencers are all channels intended to raise awareness about the event. The campaign should introduce the event’s main purpose and trigger the audience’s interest. The campaign should be clear and indicative about:
- Event format
- Program/ Agenda
- Whether there is an entrance fee, and if so, how much.
- How to register or contact the organizers
- Additional specific information.
Info partners and media partners must be contracted before starting the campaign to launch the promotional campaign mutually. Industry leaders or celebrities can serve as marketing tools as well to increase awareness among the audience. Other non-traditional ways to advance the event marketing campaign include lotteries and contests. A reward for contest subscribers can be an invitation or special offer for the upcoming event. Social media platforms can be used in the contest. The participants must share the promotional posts with their friends, with the incentive of winning an invitation. All these steps must be taken at least 2-3 months before the event’s start date.
Accountant: Business events require substantial financial resources. Of course, the event planner holds all budgeting responsibilities and demands. Apart from being able to coordinate the actions and follow a distinct schedule, the event manager has to ensure the proper cash flows and financial statements preparation to both meet the requirements of the client and not face a budget shortage. Event costs can be categorized as follows: Marketing, Activity, Transportation, Decoration and equipment, Catering, and other expenses. Usually, an event manager receives a fixed budget, which they distribute throughout the event balance sheet. The draft plan budget is calculated at the very beginning of the project. At the same time, a cost-benefit analysis is a mandatory form required for both internal and external evaluation. There are cases when the event planner has to present financial statements to sponsors or potential partners to increase the budget. During the realization of the first steps of the event preparation, a complete budget version can be drawn up, which includes a variable component of the expenses – the logistics list. A dedicated event planner has to update the cost part of his financial statement after each purchase, transaction, or completed expense. This will improve the decision-making process in reducing certain costs and the future planning and maintaining of expenses. The pre-event period fluctuates since it’s still unclear how many guests will be coming. Sum up and balancing should be done at least two times: immediately before the day of the event (when all major purchases have been made) and several days after all spendings have been completed.
Event management just might be as simple as it seems. Organizational processes involve not only the logistics or decorations of the hall, but a huge responsibility also to prepare, organize, monitor, and realize the event idea in specific circumstances. Like a project manager, an event planner has to deduce a certain action plan, with steps as objectives. The project’s leader is the event manager who, together with his team, applies methods, knowledge, and experience to achieve the goals of the event. Apart from the technical aspects of the organization, the event manager has to determine the marketing and promotional techniques to boost the event to the right audience. Finally, every single event requires a budget. Expenses can easily spiral out of control if the event manager doesn’t keep track of money flow. A perfect event can go under if a budget shortage occurs in the midst of preparations.
Lastly, event management jobs require passion and dedication since it’s a pretty taxing job, both mentally and physically. It’s not your regular 9 to 5. Spontaneity and the ability to adapt to an ever-changing environment are characteristics of the event management profession. However, those who venture into this field become stronger and more experienced with every project under their belt, as they have to learn constantly and experience multitasking challenges that shape the best of us.
Project Management Assistant