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Dreaming of a career in event management? Good. because it is filled with passion, hard work, creativity and logical reasoning. It involves conceptualisation, marketing, production and operations and most events need a balanced understanding of technical production (Sound, Lights, AV, Special Effects and Fireworks).

A career in event management means you work on a variety of events and different roles. You need to be patient, flexible and on standby at all times. On site, it is important to stay calm and be a team player. An understanding of cultures, different ethic groups and a general understanding of people are very useful. Event Management is FUN, and I have always said “If you love what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life.” 

So, here what you need to know about career management as a profession: 

1) The primary qualification is experience and understanding the project flow of an event.

The ability to look ahead and plan what you have to manage is critical. Traditionally, event managers study project management, but with new-age institutes offering specialised courses such as the Diploma in Event Management, this gives a broad understanding of the industry.

2) The next skill required is communication.

Whilst everyone can communicate, event managers needs to be confident, concise, factual and have a solution when faced with a problem. Being able to “think on your feet” is vital. You have to be able to think differently and develop the best “event” possible for your brand. The ability to think creatively, and explain your vision is essential.

A degree in Communication, Operations or Event management will ensure that you have the skills required to work in this industry. 

What are the key assets?

A successful event manager must possess a number of key assets: flexibility, people skills, leadership, a calm temperament, an eye for detail and of course, excellent organisational skills. Your philosophy should be, “if you can think it, you can do it”.

Event managers need to provide solutions, think quickly on their feet, and stay calm when dealing with all their points of contacts (be it the Client, The Sponsors, The Audience, The Celebrity, The Ground Team, The Security, The Government Officials, The Fabricators and 3rd party suppliers, The Media etc.) 

Prospects are astounding

The future prospects of the industry are astounding. With most brands moving their share of money away from Traditional Advertising (ATL or Above the Line) to unique methods like Events and Promotions (BTL, Below The Line) - the industry is bound to grow. Mega bids such as the Expo 2020 will ensure a massive surge in events and experiential marketing opportunities, and with the region planning mega projects such as the Dubai Eye, The Design District, Universal Studio, Dubailand, and with existing projects such as Dubai Sports City, Global Village, The World’s Tallest Building, The Largest Mall ... there are plenty of opportunities for events, product launches and celebrations. The festival and carnival sector is booming, and almost every day there is an Exhibition (B2B or B2C) conducted. Hotel banquet rooms are running full, malls are packed, which all means - event management is here to stay.

Job opportunities are plenty, look at all sectors and work with event organizers, clients, sponsors, media side, or venue side. The potential is unlimited. Starting a business is also exciting, find a niche and make your mark. Before one starts to plan your business you need to be realistic while estimating the finances, sales & profits. Keep in mind to build developing strategies for the possible challenges, which could be faced by the company. 

4 Simple steps to develop your events business:

1) Create a business objective to achieve long & short-term benefits.

2) Determine your approach to find clients.

3) Develop strategies for business expansion as well as make a list of your rules and regulations about the company’s policies, payments etc.

4) Properly manage your finances and have an alternative plan ready for adoption in case of loss or market downturn

Remember that most clients pay post the event, so ensure that you have sufficient funds to manage other projects. Always ensure you receive payments and deposits prior to any event. 

How to get started

You can start your event agency as a one-person agency or as proper corporate structure. As a single individual, the cost would be minimal from a license and company set-up perspective. Costs range from Dh18,000 to 40,000 for free zone permissions from RAK, Dubai Media City, Creativezone. This would give you access to shared resources, shared office space but is a quick and easy way to start.

To start your own medium-sized event management company in the UAE, your capital should be no less than Dhs 500,000. To deliver successful, planned, well-organised events, you need skilled people. When employing staff always ensure that they are skilled, independent workers and that you have projects confirmed to roll finances from one onto to the next with a margin of profit to cover your over-heads.

The rule of thumb is ALWAYS keep overheads low and profits high. It’s best to use the services of Freelance Event Producers when staring out as this will minimise your costs monthly but may be a little more expensive on your budget, but you will gain knowledge and trust in these producers. 

Event Management has many segments that you can work in. If being BOH – Back of house or FOH front of house - is more your thing, there is always a niche area where people find themselves a comfort zone in this industry. You can also become a sponsorship expert for the industry. Alternatively look at working in a technical field (lighting designer or sound engineer). Also areas such as Script Writer, Compere, Video Editor, Event Conceptualizer can all be areas of expertise. The only advice I can give to anyone who wants to work in this industry is TRY every one of these roles and find your niche. 

Always think 3 steps ahead always and I advise everyone to close their eyes and walk through the entire event mentally, to see each and every aspect in virtual reality. Plan, Plan and then execute what you have planned.

A good timeline/function sheet/running order is essential to keep you on track throughout the process. A timeline/function sheet/running order can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. The simpler it is, the easier for everyone to understand and follow; the more complex it is, you run a risk of this being misunderstood.

The key is to make sure the timeline includes hard deadlines, i.e. important dates for tasks that that you can’t afford to over-run. The tasks to be completed by a person and deadlines by when they need to be completed. Each task needs to be signed off especially if you are working with a large crew on an event.

Always have briefing sessions and crew meetings to finalise and find solutions to any pending problems.

Jean Oosthuizen is Managing Director & Founder, Spoontacularevents.com and Dean EMDI Institute of Media and Communications, Dubai