Above and beyond the logistics, the planning, the delivery and the reconciliation here are 8 other hats worn everyday by each and every event coordinator.
Event management is many things. Some people go into it because they throw a great party, some fall into it from another career and then there are those students who know what they want to do at 18 and set out to work in this wonderful industry. No matter how any given person comes into the industry once they are in it they naturally take on many different roles.
1. Personal Assistant
Every event planner works as a PA, a very experienced executive PA of course. Whether it is for your boss or your client there is a huge crossover of work types here. This works both ways, the majority of PAs are responsible for events in varying forms, some for company dinners and board meetings and others for international conferences and exhibitions.
It matters not if you work client side or agency side, organisation is a key trait of an event planner and every event includes diary management, travel logistics, and coordination for VIPs. There are also all those times spent onsite organising dry cleaning, personal menus and arrangements for the wife (or husband) and children.
2. Marketing Manager
Surely there is no event manager who isn’t also a social media coordinator?! Then of course there are those who are also brand experts, content writers, video and production heads and multi-channel specialists. Every event has a goal, a purpose for which it has been created, and whether or not you were involved in that strategy you are still expected to deliver an event that is on brand and delivers on customer engagement targets. This is particularly true for those who work in the exhibition field and are expected to develop strategic marketing relationships with everyone from suppliers, customers, agencies and press to increase stand traffic at the show.
3. Sales Director
To a degree all event managers are selling something. When you work in any agency it doesn’t matter what role you do, you can be the junior event coordinator or the head of client services, organic growth is expected for you. New business sales may not be included in your remit but the expectation that you will recognise opportunities within your clients and within each event is always there. Many companies incentivise all their event management staff, regardless of their function, to demonstrate up-selling or identify new avenues of growth within a particular event.
4. Risk Manager
One of the best and worst things about studying event management as a degree is it is largely theory based. That becomes a real challenge when you enter the industry not knowing the lingo or the complex demands of being onsite. In terms of risk however it often sets you above your competition. Health and safety analysis is taught in the event curriculum and a crucial part of planning. Corporate events require a duty of care for attendees that include emergency plans, risk assessments and health and safety sign offs. The event manager is the first person that is looked to in a medical or other emergency, not to be able to deliver the care, but to demonstrate a previously well planned and considered process, all while staying completely calm and in control.
5. Travel Agent
When you travel the world for a living then anytime family, friends or, random acquaintances require holiday advice they will come to you. The biggest perk of this career choice for me is the travel so it is understandable that many event managers also consider themselves travel experts and often blog and share their knowledge in this field. The time it becomes a real challenge is the travel round of your local pub quiz, when you are expected to know ALL the answers!
6. Procurement Lead
Negotiation and contract management takes real skill. Every planner has to look into multiple suppliers, benchmark their prices and then negotiate on their rates. Equally many brands require their event managers to arrange suppliers who carry the correct public liability insurances, the appropriate duty of care for their staff and more importantly suppliers that fit in with their brand culture. The sheer number of suppliers on any one event can be excessive, but it is important. Your supply chain should be experts in their field and it therefore stands to reason that no one supplier can fulfil all your needs. On top of this most companies are expected to have a well researched and structured preferred supplier list with various negotiated kickbacks and value adds built in.
7. Finance Officer
Budget management is a crucial part of being an event manager, managing your suppliers and payment dates is a natural part of your project timeline. Event managers need more than that though. There is a monthly P&L, annual projections, the calculation of net hotel commissions, VAT returns and service charges. Finance knowledge of course grows over time, but the more markets you work in, the more you need to know. Local taxes and payment terms vary from location to location and makes global event management something only an experienced finance manager can handle.
8. Chief Cook and Bottle Washer
This may or may not be a literal reference, but the point is event managers do whatever is needed of them to get the job done. Think of the late nights sat on the floor stuffing delegate packs, clearing the buffet tables because it’s looking messy and taking someone’s rubbish out of their hands just because there isn’t a bin in the immediate vicinity. Being an event manager is about turning your hand to anything and everything to ensure the success of your event, including being a bottle washer should it be required.
So there you have it, 8 of the roles that event managers do over and above their day jobs. The next time your grandma refers to you as a party planner just print off this list and explain to her the exceptional amount of on the job training you have had while being an event manager.
The wonderful thing about this incredible industry is that, even with all these transferable skills, event management has exceptionally high talent retention statistics. Being a proud and complex eventprof has you hooked!