When you have an event management project on the horizon, you can feel a bit like a circus juggler. A ton of tricky components come into play. And every single one needs your attention. Right now. At this moment.

Timings, catering, guest list, entertainment, management and staffing on the day… the list is endless.

The thing is, knowing the difference between events management and planning can help keep the process seamless. And they aren’t always easily distinguishable to the untrained eye.

In fact, they’re often used interchangeably with no real clarification on their purpose and how they differ.

When you’ve been asked to plan an event, your first port of call will be to understand exactly what the client is looking for and what’s needed.

And likewise, if you’re planning an in-company event the two functions need to be distinctly defined and understood so you can pull off a seamless event to remember.

Essentially, you’re going to need to ask yourself: does this call for event management, event planning, or a winning combination of both?

Let’s look in detail…

Event Management vs Planning: what’s the big misunderstanding?

Firstly, the confusion between job roles is understandable, as there’s a fair bit of an overlap.

Simply put, event planning is creating the big picture. Event planners are going to be working with clients from the very beginning and are most likely involved with the original concept, carving out what the event is going to look like.

It’s an involved and often lengthy process. In fact, 48% of event planners begin planning for their event 6-12 months in advance.

On the other hand, event management is all about filling in the finer details. Every event is made up of many moving parts and it’s an event manager’s job to make sure all those parts are moving seamlessly and traveling in the direction they need to go in.

Event Planning

Event Planning: putting the concept in place

The main goal and purpose of event planning is to get all the requirements in place for the event to happen.

Now, this doesn’t mean event planning stops when the event starts. In fact, it’s common for event planners to work during and after the event to tie up any loose ends. But the bulk of the work is going to happen before the event.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Working with the client to come up with the event concept, ideas and themes.
  • Deciding on a color scheme and designing invitations.
  • Creating budget options and getting them signed off by the client.
  • Sourcing and locating the best venue for the event, that makes sense logistically as well as visually.
  • Planning and booking the event’s entertainment. This is an important one, as a study showed that entertainment is the third most appealing reason for attending an event.
  • Finding a caterer, looking at menu choices and making key decisions.
  • Negotiating contracts with vendors.
  • Overseeing event marketing and making sure it’s in line with the target audience.
  • The key point to remember is that event planning takes a ton of creative input and strategic thought. You need to be able to visualize the day, how it’s going to go down and any issues that may crop up.

Now, let’s take a look at the counterpart of event planning…

Event Management

Event Management: controlling the moving parts

Event management involves overseeing all logistics leading up to and during an event. Essentially, the job entails executing the event plans that have already been put in place.

Wiki defines event management as “the application of project management to the creation and development of large scale events.”

As an event manager, you’re there in the run-up and on the day, making sure all logistics are running smoothly and everything is how it is supposed to be according to the plan.

Responsibilities are going to include:

  • Making contingency plans for potential problem scenarios before they happen. The reality is, problems do crop up… often. And it’s the event manager’s job to pre-empt them and plan how to avoid issues as much as is in their power.
  • Familiarizing themselves with health and safety standards and making sure the event complies.
  • Ensuring all event staff know what role they’re playing and are fully equipped to do it to the best of their abilities.

Above all, remember that the emphasis for an event manager is to make sure that the event is delivered to the highest degree possible.

Which is no small feat, right? Hats off to you, events managers.

Extra takeaways

Pay close attention to staffing

Understaffing an event is a common problem that can turn serious pretty quickly. It takes experience to know exactly what’s needed and it often doesn’t become obvious until the day. Check out this case study to see how to put optimum staffing levels into motion.

Get your venue sorted as a priority

The quicker you nail down your venue, the more accurate your costing will be. The entire event plan hangs on the venue, including management’s role in contingency planning and logistics. Remember, the numbers won’t start to make sense until the venue is confirmed.

Keep communication effortless

Good communication between the event planner and the event manager is going to be essential to the success of the joint venture. Make sure that’s firmly in place so critical solo decisions aren’t happening without the other person knowing.

Digital Signage for Events

Use technology to your advantage

This is going to be vital for the event. In particular, digital signage is a powerful tool to light a fire under both communication and entertainment.
And both event planners and managers can incorporate digital signage into their event to make it a dynamic experience.

  1. Live streaming. This is particularly effective if you’re running a large event. By streaming key events live on screens around the venue, people can easily take it all in without having to rush from one end of the site to the other.
  2. Real-time updates. Changes in schedule and all other vital information can be communicated simply to customers.
  3. Powering up branding. Switching static branding to video content, for example, has been shown to reduce perceptions of waiting times by up to 35%. So if there’s queuing involved, you can take the annoyance out of it.
  4. Directing attendees around an event. Digital signage offering directions can help control the flow of people in a dynamic and entertaining way.

Want to find out more about digital signage for events? Our Solutions Consultants will be more than happy to discuss through options for adding an extra splash of value. Call us at 866.310.4923