Event Management

by Rus Slater

Before you start

There are some important matters to get straight before you start the process of planning and managing an event.

Though some of these points may seem, initially, to be ‘no-brainers’, they are all issues that have caused events to go disastrously awry.

1. Is this actually an ‘event’?

  • An event is a one-time endeavour, undertaken to create a unique outcome, which brings about a specified contribution to the organisation.
  • An event is unique; it is not an ongoing activity. An event produces a result that is different from ‘business as usual’.
  • An event has a finishing date (date rather than result).

For example, suppose you work for an estate agency which is marketing a new, exclusive development of luxury homes; the initial open day, when the first show house is opened with razzamatazz, is an event; the three-month period thereafter, when the bulk of the homes will be sold, is part of ‘business as usual’.

The event has a finishing date of the opening of the first show home; the business as usual will have the ‘result’ of contract completion of the sale of the last house. In other words, the former is finite, while the latter could take a matter of weeks or months.

If you are planning or managing an activity that doesn’t fit the characteristics listed above, by all means make use of the process outlined here, for the methodology may help, but be aware that you may encounter some difficulties.

2. Is there a robust justification for this event?

Any event must have a robust justification and this must be clearly stated. You must have considered the likelihood of achieving the benefit you factor into the cost/benefit forecast.

Any robust justification should therefore include a cost/benefit forecast, bearing in mind that there may be costs and benefits that are not easy to quantify on a spreadsheet.

3. Where does the responsibility of the team start and stop?

This sounds ridiculous unless you consider some examples; if the event is a company conference, does your responsibility, or that of your event planning team, start with the opening address on the day or do you also have a responsibility to arrange travel to the venue and accommodation the night before?

4. Why do I have to ‘plan’ this event - can’t I just ‘wing it’?

There’s a myriad of reasons why it is better to plan an event, not least of which is that events tend to be high profile so your name can be made or broken by their success. Also

  • Ready, Aim, Fire or Fire, Aim, Ready?
  • A visible plan allows you to explain how much work you have to do when other work comes in...
  • A plan prevents OSINTOTs – Oh, Sugar! I Never Thought Of That!