Events leave a lasting impression in attendees’ minds, well after they’ve gone home. Exceptional trade shows, meetings, conferences, promotional events, fundraising events, bridal events, product launches and weddings can easily boost a host or organiser’s reputation. On the flip side, an event that’s poorly planned and executed can leave a sour taste that may affect people’s future interaction with the host.
More often than not, the difference between an event’s success and failure is in its planning – with a little help from a big budget, in some instances.
At the very best events, you’ll usually find that every aspect has been planned from start to finish. Now it’s all well and good for us to say that – events are what we do, all day every day. We know all the right questions to ask, the problems to anticipate and the systems to put in place. If you don’t have the benefit of that kind of experience though, you can save yourself or your company from some of the most common mistakes of event planning by outsourcing to an experienced event manager.
When you start work on a new event, it can pay to ask yourself: “How important is this event? Is it worth spending a bit extra on an event manager to ensure its success?”
In this blog, we’re hoping to provide you with the information you’ll need to answer those questions.
Event managers – what exactly do they do?
At the most basic level, this is an easy question to answer – event managers manage events. Isn’t it nice when things do what they say on the label?
What you’re likely more interested in, though, is what an event manager can do for you. The answer to that is “a lot”, including making your life as the event host easier, saving you time, reducing risks, delivering a better overall result and freeing you up to actually enjoy your own event on the night.
Event managers look after the entire process of staging a social or corporate event, from conception through to delivery on the night. They plan every aspect of an event from start to finish, using their experience and expertise to ensure your event goes as planned and meets its goals.
Depending on what kind of event you’re running and what it needs to be a success, here is a list of some of the things an event manager can do for you:
- Manage the event production process, from initial planning to clean up afterwards.
- Research and help you choose the right venue for the event.
- Recommend / help you to choose and hire the suppliers, entertainers, crew and staff that will work on the event for you.
- Keep the event budget under control.
- Prepare schedules and run sheets, and work with all your suppliers and stakeholders to make sure everything happens on time.
- Plan and coordinate the decoration of your venue.
- Work with you on marketing the event.
- Help you compose the menu and/or arrange the catering.
- Book and manage your entertainment for the night.
- Organise travel and accommodation (if required) for staff, presenters and VIPs.
- Run the visitor registration / check in process for you at the start of the event.
- Prepare and distribute site maps, if your event is big enough to require them.
- Perform a risk assessment for the event, and devise an appropriate risk management and backup plan.
Benefits for your event
Event professionals have the expertise and skills to plan and execute all kinds of events, large and small. Many will have qualifications in project management, and they understand how to plan and manage every stage of your event to ensure its success.
Here’s a closer look at some of the ways that experience can benefit your event.
Getting maximum bang for your buck
Event managers can work within your budget to plan and host an exceptional event. They can use their experience to show you where money is often wasted, helping you trim some parts of the budget while still delivering a fantastic event. They will often have a number of established business-to-business relationships with event suppliers too, meaning they may be able to secure their services at a discount for you.
Saving you time
Working with an event manager will take a lot of work off your plate, freeing up your time to either focus on other ways to make the event a huge success, or do your regular job! An event manager’s experience comes into play again here too. Things that may take you and your team a long time could be finished much quicker by an event manager who’s done a lot of this work before. Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to!
Delivering creative solutions
It goes without saying that when you work in events day in, day out, you see a lot of things! That in turn gives event managers a whole wealth of inspiration to draw from when it comes to designing a creative solution for your event.
They’ve seen what’s possible and what works at other events, and they’re able to cherry-pick from that experience to help your event reach its goals. They’ll also be able to find all the suppliers to help bring your ideas for the night to life and deliver something your guests will be talking about long after they’ve left.
Managing the risks for you
Whatever the size of your event, it’s important to manage any risks that may be posed to people or property. If you don’t do things right and someone gets hurt or property is damaged, there could be financial or legal consequences. That’s why it’s important to go through a risk management process. But if going through a process like this one isn’t something you have a lot of experience with, the good news is that a good event manager can help.
Furthermore, your event manager should be able to help assess and manage risks on site during the event, as well as beforehand in the planning stages.
How to find and hire the right event manager
Here are some additional tips on how to find and hire the right event manager for your function:
1. Decide what you need an event manager to do
While some may be similar, not all events are created equal. Before you hire any event professional, it is crucial to make up your mind on what exactly you’re looking to achieve with the event, what you want it to look like, and what areas or organization you think you’ll need some help with.
Some event managers may excel at organising big events for hundreds or even thousands of people. Some may specialise in smaller, more intimate affairs. Some will have a lot of experience with product launches, others with conferences or weddings or working with the media. Know what you want to achieve, know what you need the most help with, and then choose the event manager that matches your needs.
2. Contact the candidates, consider a request for proposal
After deciding how an event professional fits into your objective, you’ll be ready to get in touch with some event managers who you think might fit the bill.
In particular if you’re organizing a large event, or one with a big budget, you’ll likely want to consider preparing a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) and sending it to your preferred supplier(s).
If you go down the RFP route, give as much detail as you have at this early stage about the type of event you intend to hold and the rationale behind the event.
Also, highlight what you would expect from the event manager and indicate a deadline for proposal submission. How the event managers respond to your requirements in their proposal should be a significant factor in your final selection.
3. Assess the quote/proposal responses
The next thing to do is carefully examine and analyse the quotes or proposals you receive based on your contact with the event managers.
What you’re looking for are companies that address every aspect of your enquiry, how they pay attention to details. See if they provide enough information about how they render their services and look carefully at their level of expertise based on the information they provide.
Don’t jump to any hasty conclusions during the selection process though; a well written proposal is not always an indication of quality service. Select at least three of the best event management companies that address all your requirements in the RFP and ask them the following questions:
Certification: Qualified event managers are often certified
It’s crucial to play safe when hiring event managers. Start your search by asking for relevant event management certification. While some certification does not guarantee expertise, it gives you an idea of where the event manager was trained and the calibre of people you have to work with. There are several event management certifications such as the Australian Event Academy and the Australian Centre for Event Management as well as the International Institute of Event Management certification.
Experience: what type of events do you manage?
Regardless of the type of event you intend to hold, the level of expertise and experience of the event manager is absolutely crucial. Different events require different areas of expertise, so it’s important to hire someone how knows how to organise the kind of event you intend to hold. This can save you from the risk of hiring someone who is out to experiment with people’s events.
Networking: can you assist with details of relevant event suppliers?
One of the things an event manager can be especially valuable for is to get contacts of relevant event suppliers that can make your event exceptional. Event managers often have a list of such suppliers. Ask the selected event managers if they have networks of experts that can supply things you need to hold an exceptional event.
Regular contact: will you assign a single manager to see our event through, start to finish?
Communication is absolutely crucial in event planning. Ensure the event management company you intend to hire will assign at least one member of their team to communicate and respond to all your requests at all times. A slight communication gap can easily ruin an entire event planning and implementation. Using project management tools such as Asana and Trello can enhance communication between you and any event expert you hire.
Fees: what type of services should you expect from the fee you paid?
It is important for you to understand what exactly you will be paying for. Ask the event manager what services does your payment cover and find out about extra charges if you require additional services. It is crucial for you to understand the scope of services involved before signing a deal.
On-site assistance: will they be there on the day?
Don’t hire an event manager that only provide planning services but wouldn’t be available during the actual event. An unexpected incident can occur during an event. Make it clear to any event manager you intend to hire that you expect them to render assistance during the event. If they can’t render such services, find out if they require extra charges to do so, or ask for recommendations of vendors who can.
Insurance: what exactly is covered?
Ask the event expert about insurance for any possible damage or unfavourable occurrence that can result from planning the event. It’s always important to play safe. See a copy of their Public Liability Insurance for events and discuss it with your team if possible.
4. Select the Most Appropriate Event Manager for Your Event
After a careful analysis of how each of the selected event managers responds to your questions, the next stage is selecting the one that best fits your event. This is often a tricky stage. Observe how each team communicates and how they defend their argument. You want someone with the right expertise who can communicate their ideas clearly and easily.
Don’t make the mistake of choosing purely based on price. Low rates are sometimes an indication of inexperience or poor quality service. Try to strike a balance between a reasonable rate, level of expertise, experience, and your expectations. If you follow these procedures, chances are high that you will end up hiring someone that’s a good fit for your event.
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