Until the Covid-19 pandemic the event industry had been experiencing significant annual growth, and according to a 2018 Eventbrite report was worth an estimated £42 billion per year in the UK alone.
The industry plays an important role in economic and business development, as well as social well-being as it brings people, communities, and sectors together; something many of us are greatly missing currently.
When I mention to people in context of work that one of my roles is that of an event manager, a typical response might be something like ‘‘How hard can that be? Don’t you just come up with a theme, hire a venue, book an act, put on a spread, cobble together an invite list and promote it?’ Well yes that might be what you need to do for a birthday party or even a wedding but even then, if one thing goes wrong the whole enterprise can collapse like a house of cards! The reality is that managing a successful business event requires a lot of hard work, patience, and enthusiasm. You’ll need to call on a diverse range of skills and experiences from project planning and budgeting through to marketing and negotiating.
As I write this in November 2020 England is a week into a second lockdown, and the events industry has been decimated. Some events have been replaced by using online alternatives through platforms such as Zoom, Teams and Skype; others have gone ahead but on a much smaller scale (like weddings) but many, many others have been cancelled altogether. There is though seemingly light at the end of the tunnel, with a vaccine purportedly being rolled out in the next few months. So, looking ahead to when things return to some semblance of normal and ‘in-person’ events are possible again, I’ve put together a few ‘Event Management Top Tips’ that I’ve learned during my 27 years in the industry which I hope will help anyone that’s given the task of staging an event, regardless of the size and scale of it.
• Create a master budget to work to that allows you to allocate money into different areas: Marketing, Logistics, Merchandise, Consumables, Staff costs and most importantly last-minute Contingencies. You will always have last minute items that crop up along the way. Learn from the last budget that was set for a prior event to see if there are areas you could better. You do not want to spend unnecessarily but you do not want to cut corners. This will become apparent the nearer you get to your event. Make sure you keep a running cost of all the outgoings and quotes for up and coming work. Keep suppliers to account.
• Understand your overall financial plan – understand what and how you will achieve your goals, section this plan into various areas – what profit are you wanting to achieve, is this realistic?
• The devil is in the detail – set yourself realistic timelines in activities needed to complete the event. Do not underestimate time taken when meeting and communicating with clients/suppliers etc.
• Be flexible and adaptable in the run up to the event and on the day itself. Try to ensure you have contingency plans in place should you need to call on a backup for a last-minute cancellation. Understand your suppliers T&C’s, try and negotiate commissions, cancellation periods etc.
Rachel Marshall, CMI Synergy, November 2020