For almost two decades I have been working in the meetings and events industry. I can not imagine dedicating my career to anything else. What a thrill to be doing work I am very passionate about in a rewarding industry that is developing at a rapid pace. In operating an event management firm, I regularly receive inquiries from those looking for employment or pursuing the best path to take to get into our industry.
In connecting with these event planning hopefuls, I find it surprising that our industry is still largely misunderstood. It is disheartening to continually see us viewed as little more than party planners delivering creativity in event décor. This leads to meeting and event professionals being underutilized, underappreciated and not valued for the expertise we bring to the table. It also reflects on our industry with prospective event professionals not viewing it as a prestigious career choice.
Event management is a prestigious career choice. It is about more than party planning, creativity or décor. It is complex and encompasses project management, program design, measurement and evaluation, strategic development and so much more. Our industry is ready for talented individuals who understand this and want to achieve great things.
Do you have what it takes? Here are some key essentials to finding success in managing meetings and events.
- Passion – It is important to have a passion for events as it will lead you on a journey to excellence in event delivery. You must understand the difference between a passion for creativity and a passion for event management. A passion for creativity will be best served by working with a décor or production company. A passion for event management will be manifested in a driving desire to excel, to educate, and to continually do better in all aspects of events.
- Education – Every event operates as a micro-business. It encompasses all aspects of the business model including sales and marketing, budgeting, product development and delivery, and administration. A post-secondary education in business or an industry-related program will provide you with an advantage to truly excel in this profession. As with any industry, the pursuit of continuing education and industry certifications is necessary – not only to contribute to the development of our industry, but to ensure you remain in the top percentile amongst your peers.
- Attention to detail – It is not necessary to be a perfectionist, but you must have a innate desire to mitigate the potential for error. When you deliver an event, there is no mulligan. Months of planning will culminate into the delivery of an event that lasts only a few hours or days. One small oversight can translate into major issues onsite. It is important to operate at a level of detail higher than that which your client operates at; otherwise they will see you as a liability to their event. The more pro-activeness and attention to detail you bring to their event, the more value you will bring to your client. How do you measure your level of attention to detail? Your level of organization in your home and office can be a strong indicator.
- Professionalism – If we want to be taken seriously as an industry, then we need to present ourselves in a professional manner. You need to dress in business attire, hold high ethical standards, and dialogue with your clients in a business manner. This is the primary way you can be viewed as more than a party planner or hobbyist and to represent our industry as a prestigious career choice.
- Expertise – Our expertise should extend beyond logistical coordination into strategic development. It is important to become an expert at event design by learning how to structure an event and introducing elements that will help the event support the overall objectives of the host organization. It is also about effectiveness – not just efficiencies. You must work with your clients to measure the effectiveness of their event and to plan for future development. This will inevitably give you a seat at the boardroom table.
As industry professionals, we are proud of what we do and the contributions we make to the organizations we work for. If you feel event management is the career choice for you, we welcome you and look forward to sharing a very bright future together.
About the author
Brent Taylor, CMP, CMM is a Managing Partner at Timewise Event Management Inc. based in Edmonton, Alberta. He is very passionate about the meetings industry and believes strongly in education, professional development and setting industry standards. Connect with Brent online at www.twitter.com/brentjtaylor and www.linkedin.com/in/brentjtaylor