Event managers are responsible for the production of promotional, business or social events from conception through to completion. They complete a wide range of activities requiring clear communication, excellent organisational skills and attention to detail. They must work well under pressure, ensuring the smooth and efficient running of an event.
The role of an event manager varies depending on the organisation and type of event. Activities often include:
- discussing what the client wants and coming up with original ideas
- setting, communicating and maintaining timelines and budgets with the client
- researching venues, contacts and suppliers
- negotiating prices with suppliers and contractors
- booking venues, entertainment, equipment and supplies
- hiring and supervising contractors such as caterers and security
- liaising with marketing and PR colleagues to promote the event
- making sure that everything runs smoothly on the day
- ensuring that health, safety and insurance regulations are followed
- managing an event team
- overseeing the dismantling and removal of the event and clearing the venue efficiently
- post-event evaluation (including data entry and analysis and producing reports for event stakeholders).
What got you into the field of event management? My dreams of being a ‘party planner’ all started when I was 12 years old; I attended a wedding that blew my mind. I couldn’t believe the décor, flowers, food and the way everybody and everything looked so beautiful and elegant. I made a decision that day that I would do it as a profession.
What is it that you actually do? I have been focused on international and domestic events for the last ten years. A year ago, I took on an unusual challenge, assisting with the project management of Avenue, a new event venue. It’s a little different to creating an event, but the planning, research and implementation is the same.
What training did you undergo and where? I studied at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK. I completed a 4-year BA (Hons) Degree in Event Management. Some of my most valuable training was the first year of working.
Describe a typical day on the job There isn’t really a typical day in the events industry. Each day brings on its own challenges and demands. Depending if it’s a build day, event day or break day, I am on-site with suppliers and clients. In between this, I do the financial aspects of the venue and events, sales and marketing, and client liaison.
What do you enjoy most? I enjoy creating events and the feeling of knowing that a client is happy with what you have created for them. It’s a great achievement.
What don’t you like? Sometimes I struggle with the long, exhausting hours!
What hurdles have you had to overcome? There are many small and large hurdles in the events business. Every event has its challenges, and not everything goes according to plan. You have to be ready to do crisis management at any point.
What’s been the highlight of your career to date? I was headhunted to work for FIFA for the World Cup 2010 South Africa team. My responsibility was running the hospitality and ticketing at Ellis Park Stadium.
What are your future goals? My current goal is to turn Avenue into an internationally recognised conference centre and venue within the first two years of opening. It’s a tough goal and the competition is fierce. Technology is always advancing, so it’s important to keep up to date.
Is experience as important as formal training? Experience is key in the events industry. There are always good and bad experiences in every event, you need to take those experiences and learn from them.
Are there certain traits one requires in this industry? Absolutely, you need to love working with people, but you also need to be organised and dedicated to your work. It’s not always as glamorous at it seems.
Any advice for someone just starting out within the events industry? Starting off at the bottom allows you to gain good insight into the industry. It also allows you to gain the fundamental organisational and administrative skills. It’s important to try your best to gain valuable exposure to the many different elements of event management.
Sum up your job in three words Satisfying • Challenging • Creating
There is no typical route to becoming an event manager, and entry into this field without a degree or diploma is sometimes possible with relevant work experience. However, a degree or diploma in the following subjects will give you the advantage: business; event management; hotel or catering management; leisure and tourism; and marketing.
WHERE CAN I STUDY?
Bachelor of Tourism and Business Administration
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
National Diploma: Tourism Management
Cape Town Hotel School – CPUT
Programmes in Hospitality and Tourism
Contact each institution for their specific requirements, but these subjects are recommended:
• Consumer Studies
• Business Studies