Start a career in event planning


By Peta Daniel

Marking the formative personal events in life such as a christening, a graduation, a wedding or an anniversary presents the events planner with the opportunity to provide a tailored service that will maximise their clients? enjoyment of these special occasions.

Due to their intimate nature, the planning and execution of such events demands meticulous attention to detail and places great responsibility on the person or company engaged to manage them. It is therefore essential that the event planner should understand the personal significance of the occasion and what the client expects from the event.

Corporate events present a very different challenge to the events manager, but their success is just as crucial in the business sphere. Promotional events, end-of-year functions, workshops and other company occasions all represent opportunities to augment the image of the business. A well-managed event is therefore vital to business success and requires careful coordination and planning to ensure a smooth service delivery.

Key areas of event planning

The ease with which guests and clients are able to participate in and enjoy a social or corporate function is directly dependent on the effort that goes into its organisation beforehand. Part of making such events a success is the ability to recognise your clients? needs before they do. It is vital to research your cleints? requirements to ensure that nothing disappoints.

? Plan

Advance preparation is the single most important aspect to hosting a successful event no matter what the scale. Large corporate events are likely to encounter numerous logistical problems that will need to be resolved well in advance of the launch date, but even small social meets can present unexpected challenges. By planning ahead and allowing sufficient time to deal with the unexpected, your role as events manager will be made simpler and will ensure that things run as planned.

Taking the time to conceptualise your event will also result in a better executed design. Clients will also value the time you take to work out the details with them through a concept document. Setting a clear timeline will help to keep your carefully laid plans on schedule.

? Delegate

It is seldom if ever advisable to enter into an events management agreement without ensuring that you have the necessary complement of support staff to assist you in your task. Part of the essential skill set of a good events manager is the ability to delegate tasks to those best able to perform them. Key to this skill is assigning responsibility and supervising tasks through to successful completion. The importance of meeting deadlines or expectations in such a client-driven industry makes failure unacceptable.

? Conceptualise

Clients expect their event not only to run on schedule but also for it to meet a variety of criteria. It is therefore essential for the events manager to ascertain what these criteria are, and to be aware that clients themselves may not always know precisely what they want. Part of the skill here is to manage client expectations to ensure not only that the event achieves its aims, but also to avoid undue disappointment. No event is likely to achieve perfection, but, by working together with the client, a concept design can approach this ideal as closely as possible.

? Budget

The financial aspect of event planning is often neglected and this can lead to unrealistic expectations and consequent disappointment at an event that fails to deliver as planned. By taking the time to explore the best use of the available funds, an event can go a long way to meeting the client?s wishes while working within budgeting constraints.

? Adapt

Many clients change their minds halfway through preparations, or reject key elements of the event design. Problems may stem from a reduced budget or a caterer might cancel at the last minute. It is essential always to have a backup plan to deal with the unexpected. You will also need to cultivate the ability to think of creative solutions as they occur. This uncertainty is part of the attraction of events management, and you should remember always to remain calm, focused, learn to adapt to the situation and ensure that you find a way to keep your client satisfied.

When you have done as much as you can to ensure that your event is as close to perfect as possible by following the steps above, it will be time to reap the reward of your labours. With careful planning and an adaptable approach to managing your staff, your clients and the event itself you will ensure that your social and corporate events meet and even exceed expectations.

The University of Cape Town Events Management short course is presented online throughout South Africa. For more information contact Danielle on 021 447 7565 or [email protected] Alternatively, visit GetSmarter