Freelancing is common for event managers, so you could work for a number of employers and choose to specialise in a few different kinds of events.
Event managers, also known as events managers, are responsible for planning, promoting and ensuring the smooth running of an event schedule and individual events. These could span anything from a wedding to a virtual conference.
There is often plenty of overlap between the work of an events team and a marketing team. Promoting an event and an employer brand is vital to make sure that people turn up and future business comes out of it. If this doesn’t happen, all the employer sees is the cost to the company in terms of money and time, no matter how much effort you’ve put into pulling off the event of the year.
However, there’s a more practical ‘roll-your-sleeves-up’ aspect to events that isn’t as common in marketing. As you’re working your way up to the role of manager, and sometimes when you’re a manager, you will often be one of the first people to arrive at an event and one of the last people to leave. You’ll talk to attendees, make sure they have everything they expect (eg food or drink) and might spend time putting up stands or sorting out seating.
Typical responsibilities of an event manager are:
- recruiting and managing employees working on events – these might work on a short-term basis during busy periods or be full-time members of staff
- carrying out administrative duties such as booking hotels for those working on events and producing spreadsheets (eg on the numbers of attendees expected)
- setting clear objectives and targets for events, alongside plans for how to meet these
- helping to promote events and liaising with clients
- gathering feedback and data after an event (eg on attendance or sign-ups to your employer’s website) and using it to inform decisions/future plans
- coming up with new and innovative ideas – both for events and event promotion
- working within a budget for events and managing spending accordingly
- problem solving and hosting during an event.
Although you might be more likely to associate this role with more glamorous events such as large conferences, in reality the events sector is pretty varied. You could be planning fine dining and classy entertainment at a fancy hotel. Alternatively, if you work for a charity, you might be making sure leaflets handed out and staff working at fundraising events are both persuasive and knowledgeable.
You might work for:
- an events venue
- an event management consultancy
- a charity
- a hotel, pub or restaurant
- a conference or exhibition centre
- a festival
- an educational institution.
Freelancing is common for event managers, so you could work for a number of employers and choose to specialise in a few different kinds of events. You could also be involved with a mixture of events by working for a company specialising in event management for various clients.
A degree in events management can be a useful way of demonstrating to employers your enthusiasm for the industry and building up your knowledge and network when you start out, but it isn’t essential. You could enter this career with a degree in any subject; in fact, if you work your way up (eg from an administrative role for an events company), you won’t necessarily need a degree.
What you will need is experience. If you do study for an events management degree, you could start gaining this experience by choosing one with a placement year and planning events for a university society, for instance.
It is likely that you will need to have spent between four and six years working in events before becoming an event manager, as this should give you a solid foundation of industry-related skills and knowledge. There are many options when it comes to the roles you could undertake as you gain experience. Spending some time working as an event assistant manager before making the move to manager would provide you with a good insight, but it is not crucial.
Some employers will be particularly impressed by candidates with certain specific skills, often related to the promotion of events – such as photography or social media proficiency. As more and more events are hosted online, it’s also becoming increasingly likely that IT literacy will be an important focus.
Typical skills required for this industry are:
- The ability to manage multiple events and people simultaneously
- Time management
- Problem solving
- Creativity and creative thinking
- Resilience when under pressure
- IT literacy
- The ability to reflect and consider ways to improve.