Remember those career aptitude tests we used to take in school? I know I do!
Sometimes the results would list a job you didn’t even know existed…
Event management is one of those careers that lots of people don’t fully understand. But depending on your skill set, it could be a perfect fit!
I’m here to explain the basics of what event management is as I’ve had the chance to work with many as an event emcee. By the time we’re done, you may be inspired to pursue this career. Let’s dive in!
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#1: The Definition of Event Management
Depending on who you ask, the name “event management” can shift. Job titles can look different too. However, the job is still the same:
Event management is the process of supervising the logistics that take an event from conceptualization to reality.
Think about a party you went to recently.
How did you know what time to arrive? Or where the party was being held? What to bring? What to wear?
When you got there, was there food? Was music playing? Were there games or activities set up? Trash cans? Whoever put all of that together managed that event.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not the same as what event planners do.
Event planners visualize the concept of the event. Think about the Met Gala – an event planner helps Anna Wintour concoct the annual theme. Event managers do the leg work to produce the event itself.
Event management in the digital age
These days, event management involves studying best practices for all types of events. I’ll tell you what I mean.
Not only are we in a digital age, we are still experiencing the effects of COVID-19. Therefore, many venues are still opting for virtual events. Others choose a hybrid event to reach more people.
No matter the event type, a successful event manager understands what needs to be done.
For example, virtual event management may require more event tech preparation. Or perhaps gift baskets will be sent to the homes of those who attend the virtual event. Event managers must be quick learners and ready to adapt to any type of event.
#2: The Job Responsibilities of an Event Manager
Think you’ve got what it takes to run logistics on an event? Let’s talk turkey!
Zooming out: project management
An effective project manager – and master of ceremonies at that – knows how to juggle many balls at once. It can be helpful to think of event management as a three-ring circus, actually.
In one ring, you have the pre-event planning.
We’re talking about invitations. Decorations. Venue reservations. RSVPs. Gift bags. Catering. Music. Photography. Lighting. Tech. The list goes on and on.
In the next ring, you have the event itself.
Ask yourself: are guests having a good time? Do they have everything they need? Are emergency exits well-marked? Is parking seamless? What will make guests want to come to your next event?
Finally, you have the post-event responsibilities.
This is the part many people forget about. But caring for guests post-event is absolutely vital. Sending out guest surveys. Distributing raffle and auction prizes. Settling bills. Returning equipment.
If you are a great multitasker, you would probably make a great event manager.
Don’t skimp on the details
Successful event managers are detail-oriented. You need to see the big picture, of course. But the tiny little details that get you there? Super important.
Event managers need to keep highly detailed lists so they can follow up on everything, including:
- How the event website is coming along
- What technical aspects need to be rented in advance
- If they need to be finalizing critical event documents
Project management requires seeing an event through both macro and micro lenses.
A strategic and practical mind
“Logistics” may sound boring to some, but event management is anything but cut and dry. Managing events requires tons of creative problem solving!
Complications arise all the time:
- A venue cancels last minute
- The caterer doesn’t prepare enough food
- The keynote speaker gets sick
And so on. Part of the event management process is being flexible. You need to expect the unexpected and think outside the box to come up with solutions.
Other complications are less sudden, but still pressing, such as:
- Designing a seamless event check in process
- Considering the most advantageous layout for the event venue
- Calmly transitioning guests from the first stage of the event to the next
Beyond creativity: legal requirements
The events industry, of course, operates under state and national laws. This introduces a vital part of the event management process.
Event professionals must ensure that they are abiding by all pertinent laws. These can range from meeting health and safety standards to acquiring the necessary permits to serve alcohol.
Don’t save this for the last minute, either. Legal requirements can impact the way you structure an event. Also, permits can take a long time to come through.
Consider the guest experience
Event management professionals always keep the guest experience at the front of their minds. They must always ask themselves: is this plan conducive to guests having a great time?
Successful events please their target audience and keep attendees engaged. Many event managers will distribute post event surveys to see if their efforts were well-received.
#3: Who Hires Event Management Professionals
Event managers can be contractors, or they can event be full-time staff. They are typically hired for large scale events like weddings, galas, openings, and the like.
A year-round wedding venue may invest in hiring a full-time event manager. A small nonprofit, however, may contract an event manager for one or two events a year.
It’s a matter of cost-benefit analysis: is a full-time event manager worth the investment?
Many event managers prefer to work freelance. That way, they can balance small business clients with high-profile corporate clients. This helps them foster connections across industries.
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#4: What Skills Make Successful Event Managers
Are you starting to feel like event management could be a good fit for you? Let’s dive into more skills necessary to make it in the events industry.
Event management requires excellent people skills, not unlike a corporate emcee. Not only do event managers interact with their clients, they foster vendor relationships.
Vendors sell their own business services to the producing entity. Think caterers, DJs, florists, photographers, and decorators.
Event managers who create strong relationships with vendors will reap many benefits.
They may get priority delivery, discounts, word of mouth recommendations, and more. Depending on their negotiation skills, they can even create longstanding partnerships.
In addition to vendors, event managers communicate regularly with the producing entity.
This may mean that they are reporting to a single person or an entire team. Regardless, the event management process involves tons of communication.
Ultimately, event managers need to manage many personalities and keep their cool while doing it.
Remember the three-ring circus we talked about? Well, event managers are the ringleaders. And they need top-notch organizational skills to keep that circus running smoothly.
Being organized means many things, including:
- Keeping accurate notes to track important information
- Establishing timelines and sticking to them
- Being proactive so that you can address issues that arise early
Event managers often handle tasks across the gamut. From email marketing to tracking event registration numbers, attending trade shows to reserving venues, they must be organized.
Time to Review!
What is event management? Let’s recap what we’ve learned about this fast-paced and exciting profession:
- Event management is all about logistics, whereas the event planning process is about the event concept.
- Event management professionals need to know how to manage in-person and virtual events.
- Event managers are responsible for project management, tending to details, strategizing, meeting legal requirements, and prioritizing the guest experience.
- Event management professionals are frequently hired for large-scale events like weddings and galas.
- Event management professionals must have both organizational and interpersonal skills.
I work with event management teams all the time. If this industry speaks to you, perhaps we will work together one day!
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Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.