What is Event Management?

As surprising as it may seem, some people haven’t got a clue what event management actually is, let alone what an event manager does every day!

SchoolLed Conference 2014. The Point, LCCC. Photo Credit: Andy Whitehead Photography.

At networking events, there can be puzzled looks on people’s faces trying to figure out what a professional event management company does. It is not uncommon to be asked, “but what does that actually mean? What does that involve?” Other times, people incorrectly presume Event Managers are Party Planners, which is about as far removed from corporate conference planning and B2B events as you can get!

In case you are wondering, here is a basic definition and overview of event management to get you up to speed.

Event Management Definition

Event Management is the project management required to plan and execute a successful event. This might be a conference, exhibition, festival or any other special event.

No two events are the same, and there is not a one-size-fits-all-plan to make sure that everything runs smoothly. An event professional will call upon their expertise and network of trusted suppliers to produce a quality event that surpasses the reasons for creating it and gives back a return on the event investment.  

What Does an Event Manager Do?

Central Lancashire Business Event 2017. The Villa, Preston North End. Photo Credit: Andy Whitehead Photography.

An event manager, or event management company, brings together all elements of the event to ensure that everything comes together in a timely manner and that the objectives of the event are achieved.  

This generally starts right from the initial event idea and involves bringing the vision of the client to life. The first step is often making suggestions and gathering quotes and availability for the key elements, such as the venue, catering, audiovisual requirements, speakers or performers and staff. This will help to determine the location, date, time and specifics of the event, as well as creating an initial budget of the income and expenditure items to confirm whether it is financially viable to proceed.  

The event planning process involves organising all elements of the event and communicating the relevant information and arrangements to the right people. An event manager works to simplify and share details in an easy-to-comprehend way to make sure that the right people are in the right place at the right time and know exactly what they need to do. This will often include briefing speakers, performers, staff, suppliers, and venue managers.

Marketing the event and the registration or ticketing process is important to ensure that the right people are there and that the payment, check-in process at the event is robust. There may be multiple stakeholder groups that need to sign up for the event, for instance, an exhibition will need to contract and support those exhibiting at the event so that they get the most from it and want to come back to the next event.

Muslim Lifestyle Expo 2018. EventCity, Manchester. Photo Credit: Events Northern Ltd.

An event needs infrastructure, and if you are running an event in a field this means that everything needs to be brought in and put into place, from the toilets, to the electricity supply, to the WiFi, to the organisers office. Even within a hotel or a purpose-built event venue, items will often need to be hired and brought in. This could include the furniture, stage-set, and signage.

Running a safe event is paramount and there is a lot of guidance and best practice that event planners will advise on. Health and safety and risk assessments are a vital part of planning any large and complex events. Festivals and outdoor events may also require a license and communications with the emergency services in advance of the event.

The event manager will oversee the setting up of the event and check that everything is right ready to welcome the guests. Throughout the live event the team will ensure that everything runs to time and is prepared ready for the next part of the programme, making any minor adjustments as necessary to ensure that everything appears seamless.

After the event, the event management team will ensure that everything is removed in an orderly and safe manner and they will often be the last people to leave (as well as being the first people there hours before the event started).

This is in no way an exhaustive list but gives a simple introduction to some of the elements an event manager will take care of.

From the Big Picture Vision to the Smallest Detail

Muslim Lifestyle Expo 2016. EventCity, Manchester. Photo Credit: Masud Khan Photography

Event management can be a difficult concept for people to understand. If you have never run a large-scale event some people simply will not realise the time, effort and administration that is required to create a respected event, conference or exhibition. This is often why novice event planners often run into difficulties when they try to run ambitious events without professional help.

Without experience, many important details can be forgotten and it is usually easy to recognize an event that is created and run by a non-event professional. Some recent examples of event catastrophes to hit the headlines include the Fyre Festival, Tanacon and the Hope & Glory Festival.

If you are an organisation you should always consider the impact on your brand and reputation if you decide to put on an event using an inexperienced team. It is the attention to the tiniest details that will enable everything to come together seamlessly and surprise, delight, or make an impact on your guests.

Clients that have never used an event management company before quickly appreciate the enormity of the undertaking though and grasp an understanding of a multitude of tasks they had never even comprehended.

The Problem with Event Management

The problem with event management is that if an event is run well, the event manager(s) will often be unnoticed and it can appear as if the event has simply run itself. As most event management stays behind the scenes this may be where the mystique around event planning comes from. Event planners are there to make their clients look good and to give them the limelight, not for any egotistical recognition.

Making an event appear as if it has happened by magic can only happen though if there has been efficient pre-event planning. It is also likely that continuous tweaks and discreet running adjustments are being made by the event manager throughout the event too, to deal with any unforeseen elements, but very few people will ever notice this is happening if done well.


Being an event manager is an extremely varied role involving project management, creativity, financial management, marketing, and business management. It requires a lot of skills and experience to be able to produce a successful event, right down to the smallest detail and being able to cope with absolutely any scenario thrown into the mix.

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