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You’ve heard of event planners and event managers before… but you’ve never really taken the time to ask yourself (or someone of that profession) what it is exactly that they do!

An event manager is charged with the overall planning and orchestration of both small- and large-scale events. These events range from parties, weddings, work retreats, street fairs, concerts, food festivals and large conventions. Event managers work directly with clients to execute a clear vision for the desired event.

Perhaps you are looking to hire someone to manage an event you’re planning, or you are looking to become an event manager yourself. Either way, it is constructive to know what exactly and event manager does, so you can know whether to or not to hire one, and or whether to seek event management as a potential profession.

What Tasks do Event Managers Handle?

Many people assume the role of an event manager is exactly that of a party planner, however, there is more involved than simply discussing décor and guests lists!

Working Closely with Clients

Before an event manager can begin the planning, organizing and orchestration of an event, they must first meet with the client(s) affiliated with the proposed event. During a client meeting, the event manager will assess the client’s needs and formulate a proposal of how the event will look and unfold. This part of an event manager’s process involves lots of goal setting, research, and viability assessment.

According to The Balance, the following are important questions to consider when first listening to the client and assessing their goals:

  • Company Events – is the client looking to reveal/release a new product? Is the event for educational purposes? Is the event to build stronger team-building skills and/or to offer a place to socialize with employees?
  • Social Events – how formal vs laid back should the event feel? This will dictate the type of catering, décor, and entertainment chosen for the event.
  • Award Ceremonies – is there to be a red carpet? Will there be a cocktail hour? Will speeches be given? If so, for how long? Will there be food and beverages provided (dinner) or is it audience seating?
  • Non-Profit Events – what is the fundraising goal? Is the non-profit event more about fundraising or more about elevating awareness and providing education? Which should take primary focus? Is the event more for long-time donors, or to attract new donors? How best to balance entertainment/fun with education and a level of seriousness to validate the cause.
  • Networking Events – is the goal for everyone to leave with a certain amount of new contacts? Is the event for the purposes of dating? How niche should the event be, if it is for a specific small type of group (like ‘avid bird watchers’)?

Creating a Theme

Once the vision is set and the goal of the client well understood, an event manager and their team will need to create a clear theme by which to base all event choices, including the types of people to hire for the gig. The types of thing affected by ‘theme’ include: type of entertainment, type of venue, what time of year, what time of day, the overall layout of the event, whether it is standing/sitting, what food is served, the style of required attire, the type of invitations/flyers sent out, and the way in which marketing is conducted.

Hiring & Supervising Event Staff

After the event manager creates their proposal or vision, and this objective is approved by the clients, they will then meet with various vendors, organizers, event locations, and other such event companies to begin fulfilling the various aspects of the event (i.e.: food caterers, lighting, DJ or band, proper permits, accommodations, valet services, etc.)

Managing Finances/Budgets

An event manager does not just wrangle various parties working the event, they also help to manage the finances (and work with the client to develop a realistic event budget.) One of the many challenges in event management is working with a client’s budgetary constraints.

Following Regulations & Rules

Event managers are responsible for ensuring that the event hosted is properly permitted, and complies with any and all health and safety regulations.

Putting Out Fires

Event managers are experts are putting out fires… not real fires… but rather the proverbial fire that equates to big problems and dramas. Event managers monitor day-of events as they take place and must be on site to resolve any issues, dramas or disasters as they occur.

Event Promotion

Not only is an event manager required to put the event together, but they are also in charge of promotion, marketing, and advertising. Often the event manager will outsource to an additional marketing company for promotional materials like posters, fliers, invitations, etc. If an event is especially big, like San Diego’s Comic Con, for example, there are likely multiple event managers, and multiple market wizes involved in advertising the event and monitoring its fanfare.

Some aspects of marketing that might not seem obvious are creating event websites and social media pages, creating original event hashtags, the way in which attendees can communicate with event staff, and whether or not the event will be providing things like ‘swag bags’ or merchandise (and if so, what advertisers and clients to use for the merch.)

Day of Set Up and Break Down

The day of an event, you can often find an event manager helping their crew set up and break down equipment and décor. Event managers help prep their staff and volunteers on the day’s schedule and expectations, as well as tracking RSVPs, assisting with check-in or sign-in, and leading clients through a final walk-through, approval.

If you want to be an event manager, be prepared to do some heavy lifting (literally), as most event managers end up helping with tent set ups, table and chair building, setting out floral arrangements, carrying props and décor, and conducting sound checks and technology tests.

Characteristics Required to Become a Successful Event Manager

  • Highly organized
  • Effective leadership qualities
  • Comfortable with delegating tasks
  • Creative
  • Capable of solving difficult problems under time crunches
  • Detail-oriented
  • Phenomenal communication skills
  • Ability to do some physical labor (in helping set up, if necessary)
  • People-person skills (to develop and maintain client and vendor relationships)
  • Ability to stay within budgets and work with finances
  • Trustworthiness – must be the type of person who is good for their word, and follows through on every promise given
  • Confidence. People will feel more at ease with an event manager who exudes confidence, poise, and a certain level of calm.

What Kind of Certification/Training is Required to Become an Event Manager?

Typically, event management is a skill learned on the job, as opposed to in a classroom. However, there are certifications and degrees that certainly assist in the duties involved in event management. Such correlating degrees or certificates include: business, management, hospitality, event planning, and certified meeting professional (CMP).

Many event managers got their start by interning, volunteering or entering event management in a lower level position where they could learn from the best! If you are looking to take some courses on event management prior to entering the work place, Event Academy offers a variety of courses, including full certification!

Is There a Difference Between an Event Manager and an Event Planner?

In most ways, event planning and event management are very similar. In fact, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics has placed both job titles under one overarching umbrella category called: meeting, convention, and event planners.

If you are searching for an event management job on job search sites like LinkedIn and Indeed, you are likely to see both ‘event planning’ and ‘event management.’ In most cases, these jobs are synonymous. However, some companies do view event planning as more of a pre-event type job, whereas other companies view event planning as day-of management as well (i.e.: event management.)

Technically though, event management and event planning are meant to serve different functions, as indicated in their titles. Event managers are meant to manage the overall event (often day of management takes precedent) whereas event planners are meant to plan most of the event ahead of time (having less to do on the day of.)

The Key Take Away

Event managers make the execution of an event possible. They are instrumental in larger event organization, and even in orchestrating small-scale events! If you are looking to hire an event manager, now you can rest assured the cost is more than worth it.

If you are looking to become a professional event manager, know you are armed with the knowledge of what characteristics you need to be successful, what training and education is required, and what duties you should expect to take on.

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