Throwing a party for a living: a career in events management?

13 Jun, 2016

Our students at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne are well aware that events management involves much more than “throwing a party” although that in itself, when done the EHL-way, can already be an elaborate endeavor. 

If you love socializing and thrive on taking care of all the little details that make events perfect, you may like to work in Events Management. But have you considered exactly what could be involved in this career choice?

Our Alumni, Melissa Lou, Co-Founder of Delegate gives us her insights on this exciting career.

Events management is project management for events. As the manager, you must think logically, strategically, and creatively about different aspects of events. You may work on events in a particular industry; popular niches for event managers include scientific, arts, cultural, wedding, religious, musical, political, commercial, and social.

Today the expectations are high and gone are the days of party throwing when you just called a caterer and a few suppliers and did the rest yourself. Events are, of course, punctual, which necessitates absolute perfection in organization and implementation.

"No matter how much time and effort you take in the initial stages of event planning, there is no way of ensuring a 100% smooth event as there are always trouble shooting needed to be done on the actual day. There is often a lot of pressure for event planners to deliver - the launch of my business, Delegate, aims to ease things by making their research process easier with the help of our online event planning tool." explains Melissa Lou, Co-Founder of Delegate.

We all agree that events have been around since the beginning of human life. The most famous of all events are the Olympic Games which began in Olympia, Greece in 776 BD and lasted 12 centuries before dying out and then being revived again in 1896.

Not all events are as elaborate or as complex as the world’s major events, however the nature of the profession is similar regardless of size and even a small event can be overwhelming to the inexperienced.

"Events are getting more complicated to plan as customers are always looking for something different whether it is a new concept, theme or interesting vendor to hire. Event planners are tasked to look for new event inspirations. As an entrepreneur, there was no better time to launch Delegate and to feature a diverse array of event vendors for planners to discover in the region." continues Melissa LouCo-Founder of Delegate.

Events management is a growing business and it shows no sign of slowing down, despite the recent recession. The Events Management Industry represents a 500 billion dollar industry worldwide. 

For the tourism sector, events are a becoming a critical component for destination promotion, especially due to increasing competition between destinations. What is referred to by some scholars as “Event Tourism” has seen “subsequent growth” in this sector and “can only be described as spectacular.” Some destinations are reviving or reworking traditional festivals along with adding new events.

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The work is ideal for people who are self-starters, as event planners need to take charge and demonstrate follow-through to pull events together on a tight timeline. Planners may be working on multiple events at once, or planning all year long for an annual gala.

Good event planners are also detail-oriented, organized people. This is essential if you want to plan parties effectively. Successful event planners anticipate the unexpected, because they know from experience that there will be at least one surprise the day of the event!

Whatever the particular client or company you are working, today's clients are expecting "absolute perfection in organization and implementation" of their party. This can lead to high levels of stress, so you must be able to work well under pressure if you want to thrive in events management.

As you can see, the profession can be demanding during peak events season. You may be required to work nights and weekends and spend long hours on the job overseeing the parties you've taken charge of.

"At every stage of planning, it is crucial for event planners to be on top of things and to not only make sure that their team delivers, but most importantly, that they are working with reliable vendors to avoid actual day troubleshoots. We identified a market gap to fill to help event planners with research and back and forth communication with vendors." comments Melissa Lou, Co-Founder of Delegate.

A good events planning education gives you the practical skills and knowledge to handle all aspects of events and also allows you "on the job" learning opportunities through internships or paid work.

Here are some of the essential courses:

  • Marketing, promotion, publicity
  • Financial management and accounting
  • Politics and leadership management
  • Food and beverage management
  • Legal aspects of events including contracts and insurance
  • Facilities management
  • Technology including lighting and sound tech
  • Staging and decoration
  • Exhibit management and marketing
  • Program planning
  • Evaluation and risk assessment

While classroom education helps you gain the relevant experience you will need to succeed, it is also important to get hands-on experience with events. Internships are a great way to immerse oneself and work alongside event planners, learn by doing, and make connections within the events management field.

If you want to go into a particular type of event, like political parties or music festivals, then it helps to have practical knowledge of the industry, its needs, and key players on a global scale. Yes, this may mean that if you want to be a music festival organizer, you can go to music festivals and consider it work or research, not just fun.

"Most event planners are organised, flexible, have a customer-centric approach and are also able to work well with their teams. The rigorous training provided at EHL helps students to be well-equipped with skills required for event planning." declares Melissa Lou, Co-Founder of Delegate.

 Photos credit: Quintessentially EventsSpellbound Weddings.