Many people use the phrases 'event planning' and 'event management' interchangeably especially in regard to corporate events. While they are similar there are some marked differences between the two roles and how they might be involved in corporate event planning. Let's go over some of those key differences and few similarities.
What is event planning?
Event planning includes all of the pre-planning that goes into putting on an event and the management of that event. From decor, to travel, to meal-planning there is a lot to manage. The event planner oversees the implementation and execution of it all. Tasks that may be part of the event planning process include:
- Creating a Guest List: The event planner is responsible for creating a guest list and ensuring invites get to those prospective attendees.
- Choosing a Theme - If needed, the event planner will choose a theme for the event and ideate how to incorporate it.
- Creating a Budget - The event planner creates a budget and stays within it across all efforts for their event.
- Booking a Venue - The event planner chooses and books a venue that is right for the event size and type.
- Choosing a Menu - The event planner will help plan a menu for an event and work to ensure all allergies and preferences are considered.
- Hiring a Caterer - The event planner chooses the right caterer and manages necessary staffing requirements for the event.
- Booking Speakers or Entertainment - The event planner handles booking entertainment for the event such as musical acts, comedians, or keynote speakers if needed.
- Finding Transportation and Lodging - The event planner will take care of setting up all transportation for staff, and key speakers. They may also need to consider where attendees will stay and book room blocks at nearby hotels, or work with local transportation providers to get attendees from point A to B.
- Overseeing Tactical Teams - There are many people required to make an event happen. There may be volunteers from non-profit organizations, catering staff, set-up and take down crews, security and more. The planner oversees the tactical implementation of all of those teams and must make sure they have the resources and training they need to succeed.
This list only scratches the surface of what an event planner's responsibilities may include. An event planner will be involved in every little detail of the event from beginning to end. The planner executes the "vision" of the event and helps the event meet all of its objectives. It's a highly tactical role that requires a special attention to detail, time management, and an ability to think on the fly and execute quickly.
What is event management?
The event planner, or coordinator, executes the day-to-day operation of the event. At a slightly higher level the event manager is in charge of overseeing programs instead of individual events. This person could be a global events manager that manages multiple event planning teams, or marketing teams across an organization. Event managers have markedly different responsibilities than event planners, such as:
- Event Program Goal-Setting - An event manager will set clear goals and objectives for a company's many event programs.
- Event Program Budgeting - Event managers are the gate-keepers on budgets across their event programs and manage that budget at a macro-scale.
- Event Program Strategy - The event manager contributes to what the "vision" for an event is in collaboration with the planner. They must understand the core audience in-depth and ideate how to deliver experiences they will find valuable.
- Creating Event Processes - The event manager will oversee all the working parts in an event program so they will need to develop and enforce policies and processes for the various activities involved in event planning.
- Emergency and Contingency Planning - Event managers will map out a plan in case of an emergency during events.
- Safety training - Event management is responsible for ensuring their employees are trained in safety and security at events.
- Managing Data Security- The event management team should help manage and secure data of employees, attendees, and platforms used.
- Selection of Event Management Software and Tools - The event manager is often tasked with selecting the tools and systems that their teams will use to implement events.
- Event Program ROI Measurement - Event KPIs and event performance measurement will be executed by the event manager to measure the impact on an event and program basis.
This list is far from exhaustive. Effective event management will help put together the large-scale programs that help the event planners plan and execute their events. Event management should be in a position to support all of the event planners across an organization. Their goal should be to plan, create, and maintain programs that can be used to facilitate and support any event type. They should also be involved in creating an organizational infrastructure that can be used for any type of event in any type of location.
Event planning and management need to work together to maximize an event program's outcomes. The event management team needs to put in place, and optimize, the programs that even planners can then leverage to create, facilitate, and run their events. There should always be open communications between event management and event planning so that when problems arise they can be overcome quickly and efficiently.