Ask a room full of students at any hospitality management school what they want to do when they graduate and – I’ll bet you fifty bucks – half the class will say “event management”. Ask them in which area they’d like to specialize and – double or nothing – the room goes quiet. Same goes for potential clients who are looking for a person or a company to execute their events – from small one-off meetings to the huge, annual international conference and conventions.
So for students who are about to graduate from post secondary hospitality programs or for the more experienced of us who are thinking a second or third career in the events management industry is on the horizon – let’s take a look at the different facets of the “event management” industry.
on the City Level
Across North America there are literally hundreds of convention cities. The conference and convention industry ranks convention cities – Level I, Level II and Level III – based upon a fixed set of criteria – size and capacity of convention and conference centers, availability of hotel rooms and other accommodations, numbers and variety of supporting services (AV rental, transportation companies, F&B suppliers, etc), supporting infrastructure including transportation to and from airports and train stations, attractions, emergency services, communications…the list goes on.
These major convention cities have their own Convention Visitors’ Bureau (CBV). The role of the CVB is to actively sell the city as a destination for upcoming conventions and to help local suppliers service those events. Included in the long list of local suppliers that work closely with the city’s CVB are the local event management companies, each working with their specific clients and local suppliers to ensure that everybody’s happy at the end of the day.
Event management companies that bill themselves as “local experts” are known as “destination management companies” (DMC). They work with the client directly or they can also work with ahired by the client to source the most appropriate local venues and suppliers, organize companion programs, hire décor companies, entertainment, etc. The DMC can also be responsible for transporting delegates to and from the airport, between venues or to attractions outside of the city. A good DMC will build relationships with preferred local venues, suppliers and meeting planners to ensure high quality events for the planners’ clients.
Corporate Event Management
Many larger companies will have an in-house event management department. Larger banks, insurance companies, pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies use their in-house event planners to execute all of their meetings, business conferences and business-related social events wherever they may take place. These corporate event planners know the expectations of their “clients” (the company for which they work) and develop relationships with preferred DMC’s and suppliers around the world to ensure that the company’s expectations are met.
Social Event Management
Let’s face it – it’s getting crazy out there. People are finding themselves in an increasingly fast paced world, barely able to meet their commitments to family, work and friends. To help relieve this stress, more and more people are turning to social event planners to help them create and execute parties and events for friends and family.
Social event management companies focus on the fun. They build relationships with local venues and suppliers and create customized events. Birthday parties, graduation celebrations, weddings and anniversary parties all fall within the realm of the social event planner.
This is a growing segment of the event management industry and many social event planners are small, independent companies with one or two planners on staff. They call on a network of other independent industry specialists and suppliers – from décor companies to caterers – to create and execute customized parties and other social events and celebrations.
Charity and Fundraising Event Management
A growing sector of the event planning industry is the charity/fundraising event management sector. This specialized group of event planners understands what is required to execute a charity event that is not only different and fun but that will also benefit the charity or cause for which it is being created. An event management career in this sector can be especially rewarding. These event planners have to be very resourceful and very creative. They work hard to build relationships with suppliers who want to support the cause or charity through pricing considerations, donating space or time or providing prizes or technical expertise at or below cost – or ideally for FREE!. These event planners also have to be public relations specialists – helping to showcase the importance of the fundraising work on behalf of the charity/cause while also helping their suppliers position themselves in a positive light on account of their ongoing support of that cause.
We’ve just scratched the service here, but you get the idea. There is much to consider when pursuing a career in event management. Do you want to work for a corporation within their event management department? Would you prefer the creativity of social event management or do you think working for primarily business/corporate clients is more to your liking?
Do your research. There are a number of on-line resources that will give you a good overview of the event management opportunities that are out there. Also, visit the website of your local Convention & Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) or your city’s respected destination management companies (DMC).