Managing a business event can be one of the most exciting and challenging tasks that you will get the chance to participate in. It requires you to bring together many different skills and roles, and will give you the opportunity to multi-task, which is a challenge for even the most experienced business event organiser.
The first part of organising an event is finding the venue where the event is going to take place. The venue will set the scene for the type of event that is going to happen and will influence whether or not people want attend the event. It will also help to identify the costs that will be involved.
Catering may also be an important aspect of organising an event. The type of catering may influence where you decide to hold an event. A three-course lunch is most likely to need a hotel with facilities whilst sandwich delivery may have less strict event location requirements.
Planning the different elements of an event will require you to think about the timings of the event, what you need to order and when. It is important that facilities, such as a sound system or projector, be reserved or hired as soon as it is known they will be needed. You will learn in more detail about these aspects of the role in the section on planning an event.
Setting up the programme
The programme is the list of what is happening at the event and the order in which it is happening. It guides the organisation of the event and will be used by attendees. The programme’s quality and content will help to guide people’s interest as well as give them an outline of what is going to happen during the day. The programme will also give details of any special guests, speeches, entertainment, prize-giving or free gifts that might be part of the event. Sometimes a guest speaker may encourage more people to attend and this will need to be highlighted in the programme.
There are a variety of different types of programme that may be used for an event. These may include programmes that have various activities that attendees can select from or programmes where everyone is following the same structure for the event.
The length of time for the event will also influence the programme. All-day events need more time for people to travel to the event and for coffee and lunch breaks. Events that take place over a few days may require arrangements for accommodation including breakfast.
Preparing and distributing supporting documents
Most events require some form of hard copy or soft copy that can be distributed. For environmental and cost reasons, soft copies are often preferred. Sometimes documents may be supplied on a USB stick or in a free wallet or bag that is given out by the event organiser. Often promotional items include advertising material for the organiser to give them maximum publicity and raise awareness of the organisation.
The main documents that might be needed for an event are listed in Table 18.2. A number of different documents may be needed to support an event. These may be more traditional paper documents or other methods that organisations are increasingly using such as websites with a secure username and password, email or social networking websites to distribute information about events.
There are also a number of other documents that may be produced that are not given out to attendees. These are used by the organisation to monitor and track the progress of the event, for example, a risk assessment or a budget plan.
Organisations will usually have a set of procedures that they follow for events, and these procedures will change depending on the size of the organisation, the type of event that is taking place and who is involved.
Current legal requirements
There are a number of important legal requirements that need to be considered when organising an event. These include contractual, health and safety and age requirements.
Most legal requirements are covered by a contractual agreement that will be agreed either verbally or in writing. The contract sets out the offer and prices for the individual elements of the event including:
Separate agreements can be made with outside suppliers and may include those used for booking a hotel venue or hiring equipment.
The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 ensures that the event organiser is supplied with goods and services as part of a contract; it also protects suppliers and customers. The Act sets out requirements for ticketing that protect both the event organiser and attendees, and also protects consumers from faulty equipment. There is more information about contracts, agreements and consumer protection in Unit 21.
There are stringent health and safety requirements for events. Risk assessments will highlight any issues found whilst organising an event and help the organiser take steps to reduce the likelihood of anything untoward happening. More specific requirements for health and safety can be found later in this unit.
Finally, any event that is organised needs to meet age requirements. For example, at a music event or festival, it must be ensured that young people are aged 18 or over if they are going to buy any alcohol or tobacco products that are on sale. Remember that any event must take place within the law and steps must be taken to avoid any problems.
Limits of the role
An event organiser must consider the levels of authority that come with the role. Knowing what you can and cannot do is very important. For example, at some events the event organiser may not have the authority to sign a contract for services or they may not have the authority to make the final decision as these decisions may ultimately be the duty of their line manager. An event organiser may also work with other individuals or groups who need to make decisions about the event, which means that any decisions have to be shared by the group rather than be taken by a single person.
The role of an event organiser involves multi-tasking which means that good time management is an important quality for the job. Good time management means that you focus on what is important and keep everything on track. The most common time management mistakes made are:
* wasting time doing activities that are not relevant to the event, such as checking personal emails
* waiting for someone else to do something before being able to progress on another aspect of the event
* not being organised, e.g. spending time looking for paperwork or going over tasks that you have done before.
There are few events that do not have any problems at all. To help the event run smoothly the organiser will need to have already thought about what possible problems might occur and have made contingency plans. For example, if the event is to include computer presentations or DVDs the organiser may want to check the services provided at the venue and also take along their own lap top and projector as a back-up. Some problems cannot be anticipated; therefore quick thinking is necessary and good event organisers have this quality and are able to sort out solutions.
Negotiating skills are essential for any event organiser. Negotiating, unlike other types of communication, is not about making demands or threatening people,
it is about trying to get to what is known as a ‘win win’ situation where both parties are happy with the outcome. It may be necessary to negotiate prices on contracts to try to get the best possible deal, which is particularly important if the event is being done on a budget. Negotiating may also be used to ask for something that is not usually possible, for example, a particular type of catering or entertainment that may be more difficult to provide than usual.
The main role of an event organiser is to ensure that everything goes to plan so that the event is a success. Planning does not just include the event itself, it also needs to take into account other events that are happening around the same time. Too many similar events happening in the same week may result in poor attendance at your event.
The time of year will also influence the planning of an event. When planning an event, the organiser needs to think about the following.
* Whether the event needs to be inside or outside. It is usually more appropriate to run outside events in the summer.
* Whether the event is linked to a particular festival or tradition. If so, it will need to happen at the same time.
* Whether the event depends on other factors such as supplies that are only available at certain times of year or are cheaper in a particular month to save costs.