THOUGH EVENT MANAGEMENT CAN RANGE IN SCOPE FROM A LUNCH WITH FRIENDS TO THE OLYMPICS, THERE ARE SOME PROFESSIONAL PLANNING GUIDELINES ANYONE CAN FOLLOW TO GUARANTEE A SMOOTH EVENT.
Make a Budget
There’s rarely an occasion or an event with an unlimited budget. Learn what you/your client is looking to spend, areas where they are willing to compromise and items that are “must-haves” – for example: a wedding client may have their heart set on certain lighting, but needs to be willing to revise their décor choices in order to make the budget work.
Make a PROFESSIONAL Budget
Read that one again. In event management, there’s a big difference between what you want things to cost and what they *do* cost. Once you’ve spent your time planning elements you require (venue, food, drinks, decorations, professional audio-visual, a piñata that looks just like you, transportation, accommodations, production management), begin planning to get quotes from multiple vendors for these services, and get them in writing so you can review details and terms. Prices for some items may vary seasonally or regionally, what is readily available in some markets might be impossible to source in others. By planning ahead, you’ll gain insight that items can be billed by the hour, the day, or the week, or could be consumption-based. Try to tease out unexpected expenses like delivery, union dues, overtime, fees and permits, gratuities or insurance. These things add up. Have a contingency budget for the unexpected – inclement weather, breakage or other things beyond your control.
Lean on The Experts
A vendor wants your repeat business and wants you to have a good and professional experience working with them when it comes to event management. If there’s something about their estimate or advance you don’t understand, ask them to explain; it gives you a better understanding for future event management projects and gives you the correct vocabulary for that service or discipline.
Even though we come off as professional, we’re all just people working in a high-stress production management industry with no set hours and high potential for last-minute requests. Last-minute changes happen in production management, and clients, professional or not, will make these changes without understanding the impact it has on any planning you’ve carefully made. Event planning is a two-way street: be professional and respectful of peoples’ time, and manage what your client expects of you. There will always be last-minute favours you need to pull from a trusted vendor, those are best followed by a thank-you note, a bottle of wine, or a guarantee that you’ll be there for them when the time comes.
Be a Squirrel
No matter how well everyone has been planning for every eventuality at your event there will always be last-minute asks – a table for the Donation Box, lighting over the food preparation area, video wall for slideshow, an extension cord to plug in a coffee machine, a safety pin to mend a uniform, a phone charger! Always a phone charger! Build a mental inventory of available resources, and always have a few items that no-one else knows about so those last-minute catastrophes become an easy fix that comes across as professional.
You Can’t Know Everything but You Can Know Lots of Things
Whatever your background, there are many areas working in tandem to bring an event to life – technicians, venue staff, caterers, bartenders, decorators, artists and musicians, custodial staff, transportation, box office, security, lighting crew, video wall technicians, first aid and more. Understanding what you can about how these various disciplines function will create a more streamlined event for you.
It’s all going to happen. Your event will happen, one way or another. Your best-laid plans may go completely sideways but no matter what, guests will arrive and times will be had by all. Event management and planning is stressful because it requires managing a lot of variables, many beyond your control. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when things don’t go according to plan, but it’s important to remember to keep your cool – you’re often the anchor for both your client and your team, and your unease will be picked up by those closest to you. The best thing to do is take a deep breath and remember that the show must go on one way or another, and then it’s on to the next one!