Event Management is about managing something that happens at a given place and time. It could be a respectable breakfast press launch attended by a handful of people or an awards night and wild party attended by thousands
Some times it’s possible to manage things in-house but sometimes events call for the help of some extra personnel. It’s here that an Event Management company can come in. They can come in many guises some operate as Event Management companies, other call themselves party planners. Some PR agencies even offer event management services.
When and why?
The purpose of any event should be to deliver objectives – marking a launch, communicating a brand message, providing an experiential opportunity to experience brand values.
You should appoint an external agency is when you realise you don’t either have the time, experience or manpower to manage an event.
Another ‘why’ is cost. Event management companies can be very cost-effective because of their expertise of organising and managing events – as well as taking care of the health and safety headaches.
Firstly, event management companies use the services of entertainers, hotels, caterers etc on a regular basis and as a result can get discounted rates. In simple economics, buying services in bulk will always be cheaper.
Secondly, event management companies know where to find the services you require. To hunt these down yourself can eat up time and mean additional costs, such as transportation, phone bills etc.
Top tips for success
Sourcing – Did you attend an event recently that is similar to the one you want to stage? How did they do it? Where did they do it? What was so good about it? Most importantly, who was behind it? Try and find out. Alternatively ask around. Which colleagues have used event management companies in the past? What has been their experience? Was one better at one aspect of event management than others.
Timing - When you should look at appointing an agency depends on what the event is. Major events such as award ceremonies can be six to 12 months in the planning. Smaller low-key events can take three months or less to organise. If in doubt seek advice, either from event professionals or colleagues.
Branding and messaging – never loose sight of the job in hand. It’s important that people have a good time but don’t forget the messages and brand values you want to communicate.
Décor and Entertainment - Events and happenings take place in every major city across the country every week. Most will have a theme relevant to the brand or product they are trying to push. It’s not simply about the venue décor, the entertainment, or the catering. It’s about the whole package, the complete experience. Using the skill of a professional event manager or party planner will help to give you the edge over the competition and make your event the one to remember. If it’s extra special there may even be additional PR mileage in the press – consumer or trade.
Learn from the best – one agency came up with the novel idea of giving out jelly babies in medicine bottles at a medical related launch. An agency working for a drugs company launched a new sleeping pill at a theatre performance of Shakespeare’s ‘A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream’. The re-launch of an urban TV channel saw a party being held in a warehouse with entertainment from break-dancers and graffiti artists.
Costs and benefits
How long is a piece of string. You could work to a tight budget or end up spending like Elton John.
The budget is key but ideally it should cater for equal amounts for food and beverage and for decor and entertainment. Naturally your event will have more impact the more spent on décor and entertainment, but try not to do this at the cost of catering.
It can be difficult to keep a crowd at a party once the free bar has run dry! And yes, always, always at least offer one free drink. If it’s a high profile or important event you might even be able to get a drinks brand to sponsor
The choice of venue will always affect cost. Venues with distant locations could mean additional transportation costs. We’re not simply talking about decor and entertainment, but you might also have to pay for transport for your guests to get them to and from the venue. Also, the actual structure of the venue will play a role. It might be a case of simply dressing a venue or there could be construction involved - stages, railings, etc.
Naturally the bigger the venue, the more is going to have to be spent on décor. Finally, bear in mind the restraints of set up. It is normally more cost-effective to do this during working hours (i.e. before midnight) or after hours (midnight to 6 a.m.)
The return on an event however, if successful, can far outweigh the outlay costs. The objective will have been achieved - triumphant launch and brand message communicated to the right audience.
Measuring the results quantatively rather than qualitively may be difficult to tell but if your event runs as planned, consider it mission accomplished.
Because of the great diversity of events taking place there is no official governing body for event management.
For inspiration and some great ideas check out RSVP - an annual industry showcase exhibition with representation from party planners, caterers, entertainers, venues and more.
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