What is Event Management?

Creating a vision, organizing and managing large scale events

Business people talking in meeting in board room
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What kind of work do you do?” is a commonly asked question upon meeting someone for the first time. If your reply is, “I am in event management,” you most likely will receive follow-up questions regarding what exactly that means.

You may, in fact, be asked if you are a party planner or a meeting planner. In the event planning profession, the job titles are as diverse and numerous as the services offered and it can often be difficult to describe and differentiate one from the next.

It can be challenging when preparing an event planning portfolio, looking for work, or in working with a client who does not have the correct understanding of your job function and responsibilities. 

Event Management vs. Event Planning

So what exactly is event management and how does it differ from event planning?

Event Management vs. Event Planning

While very closely related, event management and event planning are two very different functions. The key difference lies in these two words: management and planning. In very simple terms, event managers manage the event and event planners plan the event. That being said, event managers may also plan aspects of events and event planners may manage certain components of the event planning process. Event managers and event planners work side by side, and their responsibilities may overlap.

To make matters even more confusing, individual event planners often provide event management services, and event managers may also offer event planning services.

If all of this has you scratching your head, then let’s start by taking a close look at event management.

Event Management Involves Project Management

Event management involves creating and developing large scale events which may include conferences, conventions, concerts, trade shows, festivals, and ceremonies.

Event management involves identifying the target audience, formulating the event concept, planning the overall logistics of the event and conducting project management of the event as a whole -- including managing the teams of people responsible for each function, the budget, and overseeing the execution of the event. Event managers also supervise the services of all outside vendors and professionals, which includes event planners.

Specific responsibilities of an event manager may include:

  • Selecting and reserving venues
  • Coordinating outside vendors
  • Engaging speakers or entertainment
  • Arranging for transportation and parking
  • Obtaining necessary permits and appropriate insurance
  • Responsibility for compliance with health and safety standards
  • Developing emergency contingency plans
  • Crisis and situation management at event
  • Designing a security plan
  • Monitoring of the Event

This list is by no means complete. Depending upon the scope of the event and the other hired professionals, the job responsibilities may vary.

The Role of Event Management Services

Event management firms are frequently hired to plan and execute large-scale company meetings and special events. While weddings and concerts are common events for an event management professional, sporting events, reunions, and large parties are also occasions that can benefit from event management.

Government entities, nonprofits, associations and corporations all utilize event management companies to coordinate important events and meetings. The event management function can often be found within a corporate marketing or public relations department or as part of their special events staffing.

Skills to Succeed

As with most event planning functions, event management requires excellent organizational skills to succeed. The ability to multitask and juggle many moving parts is essential and, along with that top-notch organization comes the need for efficient time management skills. Being able to prioritize and stay on task is what leads to a successful event. Event management begins with the process of creating a vision for the event and then seeing it through to execution, which calls for both creativity and flexibility.​​

Because project management is a key element and involves managing not only functions but teams of people, interpersonal skills are also important. Interaction with individuals at all levels of an organization is part of the job and having stellar communication skills and being comfortable and personable will go a long way in developing those relationships.