As discussed in detail in Strategic Market Planning later, planning involves preparing the mission statements and objectives based on which strategies are devised to achieve the set goals.
Once the strategy is in place, suitable policies need to be formulated to align procedures and rules so as to be in tandem with the strategy and enable – not hamper – the implementation of the strategic plan. Planning thus tries to ensure synergy in the decision making process among the various activities.
The planning function is involved in micro-level event coordination activities such as liaison with the creative team discussing, facilitating and arranging for the technical specification viz., sound, light, stages and sets. Short-listing artists and stand by artists in tune with the dictates of the creative guys/gals is one of the most challenging tasks in the planning function.
It also involves checking out alternative arrangements for locating the event, the venue, the conditions for the event and gathering information to assist in taking a decision on whether the event would be held indoors or outdoors. While at the last task, understanding the requirements of licenses, clearances, etc. and arranging for the same as and when required is a fundamentally responsible task that the event coordinator is burdened with.
Deciding soft issues such as whether the show is to be a ticketed, non-ticketed, fully or partially sponsored is also part of the planning exercise. Planners then do a risk rating for the event.
Defining arrangements for the quality of hospitality and the dress code of the hosts/hostesses depending on audience profile as well as deciding the appropriate food and beverages to be served on the occasion also is a planning function. This is especially so since the security and other arrangements will vary with the type of beverages served.
In the cash flow statement, inflows to the event company’s coffers are basically from a combination of the revenues from sponsorships, ticket sales, commissions, event production charges, artist management fees and infrastructure and equipment rental charges.
At the same time, on the outflow front, one can include headings as suppliers’ payments, venue hiring charges, payment to artists and performers, etc. The major outflows though are mainly on the event production front combined with the licensing and tax payments liabilities. The mode of payment for events ranges from part payments to cash payments and is mutually agreed upon between the parties involved and authenticated in the form of a contract after negotiations.
Penalty clauses may also be included for defaults in the payments. Depending on the nature of the project, relationship with the clients and the objectives of both the client and the organizer, the actual plan of payments can be worked out.
This may involve a certain amount as part payment in advance, a certain, amount upon completion of specific milestones and finally payment of the balance amount either at the beginning of the event or upon completion of the event. It is essential that a certain amount be taken as advance to take care of the working capital needs.
The planning function defines the limits of the creative function as it provides the constraints that the creative team has to work with. It deals with hard practical realities such as the logistics i.e., transportation of material, travel, stay, etc. and the networking viz., media plan, ad designs, banners printing, tickets invites designing and printing. It tries to create the perfect picture of the event flow and tries to define and exercise control on the inflow and outflow of money before, during and after the event.
Therefore, it is imperative that the planning function plays an important role in the preparation for any event. In addition, the time frame involved in decision making being limited, planning assumes that much more importance as a function.
Some of the event planning services that need to be taken care of by the event organizers are listed as follows: Travel Arrangements, Audio Visual Needs, Catering, China and Flatware, Convention services, Decor, Decorations and
Props, Entertainment, Exhibitor Needs, Floor Plan, Food and Beverage, Ground Transportation, Invitations, Linen, Lodging, Logistics. Meeting Planning, National Entertainment, On-Site Coordination, On-Site Registration, Photography, Pipe and Drape, Registration, Sanitation Facilities, Security, Signage, Site Selection, Sound and Lights, Speakers, Stage Decor, Staging, Tables and Chairs, Tenting, Tours, Union Labour, Valet, Video Production, Staff, Bartenders, Web Site Management.
We had earlier mentioned that events typically have a team based work environment and a project type of organisation structure and that responsibility are assigned to the relevant staff members in the team for the event.
Coordination of the arrangements required is divided among the team members. We further reiterate that understanding organizing in the context of event management essentially involves the description of the activities required for an event, identifying individual and team tasks and distribution of responsibilities to coordinators.
Such an exercise helps in creating an intentional structure for clarity of roles and positions. These structures change with almost every event depending upon the resources available. Therefore, in management parlance, one can call the organisation structure in events as a project type of structure.
Event coordinators are essentially required for the organizing part for an event. Starting from contacting the artist or performers and in case of absence or dropouts, making standby arrangements is one of the most important functions of the event coordinator. After planning and creative functions have worked out the game plan, the event coordinator then goes about fixing the date, terms and conditions with the artist.
This is followed by arranging and creating necessary infrastructure. Planning and coordinating with the professionals for the physical availability of the sound, lights, stage, sets and seating is followed by arranging for some softer aspects of organizing.
These involve handling the publicity, which includes press meets, releases, etc. for a favourable coverage and handling of ticketing and invitations. The actual procurement of permissions and licenses from various Government departments finally becomes the coordinator’s responsibility once the planning stage decides the requirements.
Arranging for hospitality management such as the stay, food and beverages, hostesses, etc. and contacting sponsors to ensure fulfillment of commitments from the event organizers’ side to their clients are part of the organizing function. In short, organizing is making the event happen within the constraints defined by planning.
At this juncture, it would be prudent if we introduce the staffing requirements for events. We have already taken a tour of the event management flow and discussed some of the responsibilities of the staff in the preceding sections.
Functional responsibilities in a project type organisation structure define event management staffing requirements. The importance of team structure, experience, background and expertise of team members plays a crucial role in event management. It is the size and the resource availability in the events enterprise that to an extent defines the exact role of the staff members.
In a big firm, there is more scope for specialized functional personnel with limited functional responsibilities, whereas, in a small firm, there is a fusion of roles depending purely ort availability of time and staff. Exceptionally people friendly and situation savvy professionals are needed to man this post on the event front.
Thus, while recruiting for events, one tends to feel that candidates with a past background in the hospitality industry, sales and advertising would be ideally suited to tackle the stress and pumped up adrenaline levels that come free with events.
Events as mentioned earlier are very physical in nature. A host of skilled and unskilled volunteers and labour staff need to be guided effectively. Given the fact that events are do or die projects, i.e. are one-off in nature, trouble shooting in and during the event therefore demands the most street smart and event savvy individuals.
Functionally, one can segregate the following functional level responsibilities that need to be addressed within the team for a specific event as discussed above in the section on organizing.
The overall coordinator is the person in-charge of a particular event. He has the final authority in decision-making matters related to the event. The creative manager leads the creative team. The project manager’s role is to make the event a conceptual success and plays a very important role in the planning function. The production managers are also involved from the planning stage though their main responsibility is making the event a physical success.
Sales and Marketing personnel are part of the team from negotiating with prospective clients to ensure the client-concept fit for the event right through to the execution of the event. Business development is also part of the marketing portfolio of activities at most event companies.
Event Coordinators carry the responsibility of day to day liaison and micro level activities. They are the ones who do the running around and put the pieces together. They also need to be well versed with public relations activities and people skills in handling volunteers for putting up banners, decor, etc.
Also, they need to be a technically adept since they shall be guiding the technical staff (sound, light, stages, etc.) as well as a host of skilled and experienced labour (carpenters, electricians, etc.) and unskilled labour (helpers) without whom there just cannot be any event.
4. Leading and Coordination:
The sum and substance of events as a whole revolves around interpersonal skills. The need for achieving synergy among individual efforts so that the team goal is reached is the main aim of coordination. The overall coordinators need to be leaders with fantastic people skills.
They are continually required to motivate the labour and other junior coordinators to work real hard given the physical nature of the job, the time constraints involved and the one-off nature of the event.
The overall coordinator also should be able to guide the marketing and project managers and this may even mean that the experience and expertise of past events need to be passed on to relative new comers given the shortage of professional event managers.
Thus, great communication skills and patience without letting too many errors happen as well as knowing how to use the carrot and the stick in a balanced manner are the basic characteristics of the overall coordinator. In addition to the above, the leadership qualities desired of an event manager include the ability to spot a deal and think on one’s feet.
Evaluation and correction of deviations in the event plans to ensure conformity with original plans is the gist of controlling. Evaluation is an activity that seeks to understand and measure the extent to which an event has succeeded in achieving its purpose. The purpose of an event will differ with respect to the category and variation of event. However, to provide reach and interaction would be a generic purpose that events satisfy.
There can be two attitudes with which evaluation can be put in its proper perspective. The concept of evaluation stated above was a critical examination digging out what went wrong. A more constructive focus for evaluation is to make recommendations about how an event might be improved to achieve its aims more effectively.
To conduct an evaluation and measurement exercise it is essential that the predefined objectives of the events have been properly understood. The brief should contain all the data to be communicated since if an event has been organized without a clearly defined purpose then any evaluation of it would be rather pointless.
The basic evaluation process in events involves three steps viz., establishing tangible objectives and incorporating sensitivity in evaluation; measuring the performance before, during and after the event, and lastly correcting deviations from plans.
Being a very essential function by itself, we have discussed it in greater detail in a separate on evaluation of events.