Event Management For Dummies (UK Edition)
Event Management is one of the fastest growing industries around. It’s an exciting, ever-changing area of work in which you need to keep your wits about you and stay organised at all times. This Cheat Sheet is here to help.
Identifying Your Target Market in Event Management
If one of your objectives in event management is to attract new customers to an event – and it is – you need to be clear exactly what type of customers you and your client want to attract.
This process of identifying a target profile also works for internal communication events such as sales and marketing conferences. Think of the typical person within the organisation and then consider how long he or she has been with the company, the size of his or her family, what he or she does at the weekends, and so on.
Use the following checklist to get you started. Try to list or describe the person’s:
Place of residence
Type of accommodation
Level of education
Position within the family
Number of hours a week spent at work
Smoking and drinking habits
Club memberships (if any)
Creating an Event Safety Plan
One of your most important roles in event management is to ensure that people are safe at your event. Create an event safety plan well in advance of any large or public-facing events. Depending on how much time you have been given from your client for the whole planning process, ideally create this plan a few months in advance, then circulate it to the following groups:
The venue management
The fire and rescue service
The ambulance service
The local enforcement authority
It’s not unusual for several drafts of the event safety plan to be produced to take account of all the safety elements of the event and the associated procedures. Don’t worry if you’re on version 6 by the time it’s approved!
The event safety plan contains information under the following headings:
Event overview: This is to help put into context what the event is for and for whom. Referring back to your original brief will help you write this section.
Venue overview: This should cover information such as the contact/directional details, a floor plan and any specific access information.
Risk assessment: This shows all readers that you have considered all the potential risks, but more importantly how you are minimising or removing those risks.
Event health, safety and welfare: There are various methods that can be used to ensure your team’s and guest’s welfare at your event. The reader of this document will not need to know every individual plan, but more an overview that you are aware of what is required and any specific details that may be pertinent to the local authorities.
Stage, temporary structures and infrastructure: Provide an overview of any major structure, of their manufacturer and any health and safety notes such as wind speed ratings.
Electrical systems: Information on the level of power that is required and how this is being provided and maintained on site.
Food, refreshments and traders: You are likely to provide food not only for your guests but also for your crew. Give information in the event safety plan about the food – not whether it will be lamb or chicken, but how many caterers you will have on site and the types of food-preparation techniques they will be using.
Waste disposal: Detail your plan for this – whether you will be having recycling bins, how often these will be emptied and whether you are employing litter pickers, for example.
Security/stewarding: Include information on how many staff will be on site and any particular processes they will need to follow. There is information earlier in this chapter on different security options.
Crowd/traffic management: This will be of particular interest to the local authorities who will want to ensure that you have taken adequate precautions to manage large movements of people. See later in this chapter for methods of crowd management at events.
Organisation and contractors: You should include a little information on the people you’re going to have on site in your event safety plan. An organisation chart helps show outside readers how your on-site team will be structured and who will be responsible for what.
Communications: Provide a basic overview of your communication plan in your event safety plan.
Medical/first aid provision: Detail who on site will be available to provide first aid attention and how they can be contacted.
Fire precautions and equipment: Your health and safety advisor and production manager will be able to help you fill in this section of the event safety plan. Readers will want to know what your exit routes are, how many extinguishers you have, where they are and who will use them in case of an emergency.
Sanitary accommodation: Include information on how many toilets are provided and how often they will be serviced during your event.
Emergency procedures: This is an area where the local authorities will want to see lots of detail and feel confident that you are responsible enough to deal with emergencies on site.
Event inspection: Cover when and who will inspect your site and sign off the site in terms of structures and health and safety.
Accident reporting and investigation: An overview of your process needs to be included.
Provisions for people with special needs: Adhering to the Equality Act is important. See earlier in this chapter for some basic pointers. Provide information in your event safety plan as to what visitors with various special needs will need to do.
Contingency plans: Show the local authorities that you have considered all the main potential issues by putting contingency plan examples in your event safety plan.
Developing an Event Management Critical Time Path
Write a version of the critical time path at the start of any event management project, as a date-focused project plan. Update this document throughout the project-planning process, as things change, but remember that it’s a document that needs to be taken seriously.
To give you an idea of the types of actions to add into your time path, see the suggestions in the following list. These are for guidance only; each event is different, and your duration for planning will be different, too, but the list is a good starting point.
Six months before the event
Half a year is a long time, but you’ve got a lot to do: at this stage you need to:
Agree your objectives with your client
Pick a date
Agree your budget and write a basic budget breakdown to ensure that it’s realistic
Shortlist venue options
Visit potential venue options
Choose your venue and pencil in a date
Write a basic timeline
Establish your creative theming or approach
Create a team around you that can help plan your event
Design the creative identity of your event
Draft a marketing plan
Four months before the event
At the four-month stage you should:
Write a basic timeline
Start a marketing and PR plan
Research suitable suppliers
Refine the budget breakdown that you wrote at the start of the event planning
Request contracts for your venue and any major kit purchases and kit hire
Design any brand collateral
Design the floor plan (layout)
Source all hotel accommodation required for crew
If required, send a ‘save the date’ to guests for the event
Write the first draft of the running order
Apply for any required permits
Two months before the event
Eight weeks or so before show day make sure to:
Confirm all suppliers
Write the health and safety
Refine the budget, always checking that you don’t overspend
Write staffing briefs and details of roles and responsibilities on
Collate a signage list for things such as toilets, cloakrooms and so on
Send out invites if required
Brief the security firm
Book tastings for any catering requirements
One month before the event
With one month to go before your event, you should write the first draft of your production schedule.
Two weeks before the event
At the start of the final fortnight, ensure that you:
Distribute the final production schedule to all suppliers
Brief the photographer
Collate the final guest list, if required
One week before the event
With just seven days to go, make sure you:
Cross-check that all advance deliveries have arrived, including any collateral or goody bags
Refine the budget
Ensure you have petty cash available for on-the-day last-minute purchases
Phone all suppliers to confirm arrangements
Contingency Planning in Event Management
This is the ‘What if . . . ?’ scenario planning you need to carry out in event management, and it’s an opportunity to make use of any pessimistic team members you have. Put them all in a room and ask them to come up with as many what-ifs as they can.
Planning for potential risks early in the process not only gives you time for good communication with your team, but also adds potential costs into your budget.
The potential risks to consider when writing your contingency plan can be grouped as follows:
Physical: Any accident, fire, flood or other natural disaster that would have an impact on your equipment, buildings or stock.
Team: Your team is only human, so illness, grievances or industrial action may affect them.
Legal: What might someone sue you for is the easiest question here. Or are you confident that the competition you plan to run is legal? It’s best to not leave matters such as this down to chance.
Technical: Everyone relies so heavily on technology now that they often assume it will always work. Think about how you’d run a barcode registration process without a computer or barcode reader that works.
Political: Riots, protests, campaigning and changes in corporate policy can all affect the success of your event. If, on the day of your event promoting the launch of a new car, you read a new press release stating that the tax of that type of vehicle will increase by 25 per cent, what do you do?
Unlike risk assessments, where there’s a common approach to the layout of the form, contingency plans are less uniform. Due to the slightly more detailed nature of the potential scenarios, a contingency plan is more likely to be a discursive document than a table. As with all communication in events, though, it’s best to talk through the scenarios and not rely on your team reading a document.
Contingency plan scenarios tend to be less immediate or accident focused (like risk assessments) and more gradual, allowing slightly more time to plan the solution.