Considering a career in events?
Are you keen to pursue your studies in event management?
Then you’re definitely in the right place!
Whether you’re a soon-to-be high school graduate trying to pin down what you’d like to do with the rest of your life, or a seasoned professional considering making a lane change, a career in the events industry is a great career path to consider!
A rewarding industry to work in, the events industry may just be the perfect fit for you, and if you want to know more, you’ve come to the right place!
We’ll clear up some common misconceptions about event management, talk you through the pros and cons of getting involved in the industry, and even give you a step by step guide to getting your foot in the door in the South African events industry!
8 Reasons To Study Event Management: Misconceptions, Truths and Everything in Between
1. Event Management is a Real Job
Misconception number one is that Event Management is not a real job.
Usually those towing this line are well-meaning family and friends who simply don’t understand the industry, or the gaping hole in the market that Event Managers fill.
These well-meaning naysayers will try to talk you out of following your dream, but don’t let their ignorance be your downfall – we’re here to tell you that there is money to be made, and most importantly fun to be had while doing it, in the events industry!
Ask yourself, and perhaps even those naysayers out there, whose opinion on the events industry should carry more weight?
The industry professionals’ (that’s us!), or ill-informed if well-meaning friends and family’s?
Event Management is a real job that can take you all over the world, introduce you to fascinating people and yes, can keep you paying the bills on time.
2. It’s a Growing Industry
Experience is king in the 21st century and people are increasingly spending their money on experiences as opposed to material goods.
As a result, the events industry is booming! Get your foot in the door and ride this wave while you can – now is the time to be making a name for yourself that will ensure your success for years to come!
The growing public interest in throwing lavish parties and hiring events managers means that this once incredibly competitive market now has more than enough work to go around for those trained professionals who can pull off a flawless event.
The Aleit Academy can help you become one of those sought-after professionals.
3. You’ll have a great skillset
Accountants know how to work with money, chefs know how to plate pâté de foie gras, DJs know how to set up lighting and sound equipment.
What do you call someone who knows how to do all those things and more?
If you guessed an event manager, you’re right!
Events Managers pick up all kinds of useful skills on the job!
Not only must Events Managers by definition be level-headed organizers, but they’re skilled communicators too.
This means that trained Event Managers who are looking to make lateral shifts often find employment in communications capacities.
Their eloquence, ability to manage a team, and skilled efficiency when it comes to time management makes Events Managers sought-after hires both in the events industry, and elsewhere!
A career in Events Management sets you up to pick up a wide variety of skills that make you increasingly employable both in the events industry and in others.
You also can’t underestimate the value of the networking opportunities an event management career presents you with!
4. Professional Qualifications in Event Management do Exist
Remember what we said about increased demand?
The increase in demand for events managers unfortunately for the client also means that every Dick, Tom and Harry who’ve ever planned a birthday party are now advertising their “event coordination” services.
These fly-by-night operations are usually manned by completely unqualified individuals and yes, professional qualifications in Event Management do exist!
A professional qualification in events management takes time and effort to work toward, just like any other degree or certification – and it is just as valuable.
Now if you’re thinking, “but what about hands-on experience”, kudos to you!
Yes, hands on experience is critical for professional events managers and that’s why professional events management qualifications, like those offered by The Aleit Academy, have a huge hands-on component!
The Aleit Academy ensures that you leave our program with not only the theoretical knowledge and a professional qualification to your name, but with the kinds of practical experience any self-respecting entrant into the events industry market should have.
5. The Events Industry is Your Oyster
Don’t want to be an events manager or event coordinator, don’t worry, you can still be involved in this amazing industry!
Whether you have a head for financials and want to go into budget development and be a financial controller, or like to be more hands on and want to go into set-up and event design, there is a role in this industry to suit each and every individual’s unique talents and preferences.
Travel is part and parcel of this industry – whether it means travelling locally, nationally, or internationally will depend on the industry sector you get into and your individual clients but travel is a given.
From site visits to coordination meetings to planning and being flown in to manage and coordinate destination events, if you’d love to see even a small part of the world while being paid to do it, the events industry is definitely an industry you should consider breaking into!
7. The Work is Rewarding
How many working professionals in other industries get to see a project through from inception to final execution?
Most industries rely on compartmentalizing structures and those who work on projects rarely get to see them through from beginning to end as they come in to complete their task before having to hand off the project again to the next person in the metaphorical production line.
When you work in the events industry, that doesn’t need to be the case, and you can’t underestimate the unique rewarding feeling of being able to see a project through from brainstorming to the finish line.
8. Everyday is Different
An event management career is many things, but it’s never boring!
Each and every project, and each and every day, will bring with it unique challenges, new people and new places you will need to navigate.
Not a career for the faint of heart, a career in the events industry is uniquely rewarding especially to those of us who love change, and thrive on variety in the workplace.
The Pros and Cons of a Career in Event Management
No two pros and cons lists would look alike.
So, instead of bringing you a typical pros and cons list that you’re bound to disagree with on at least one point, we’re going to be bringing you a list of some of the realities of a career in event management and illustrating how each can be considered both a pro or a con depending on your personality and personal preferences.
At the end of the day, you need to get into the event management business for the right reasons, and if these realities all seem like pros to you, you may just have found your calling!
– Event Managers Make People Smile
If you’re the kind of person who’s been called a “people-pleaser”, and you couldn’t understand why that should be insulting, you’ve come to the right place!
On the other hand, if you resent having to go the extra mile to make people happy, event management may not be the right line of work for you! Events Management is found most rewarding by those for whom other people’s happiness is their own.
If you find making people happy to be a just reward for bending over backward, event management is for you!
– Variety is the Spice of Life
If you’re a lover of routine and have always rolled your eyes at those who claim “variety is the spice of life” then you may not much enjoy working in the event management industry where every event and every day will bring something completely new to the table.
On the other hand, if you’re the kind of person who gets bored easily, this may be one of the very few jobs out there that has the potential to keep you perpetually engaged because no two days, events, or clients are exactly alike!
– You’ve got to be Creative
You may think event managers are just glorified PAs for events, but you’d be wrong.
You may think that you’re not actually arranging the flowers yourself and therefore you don’t need to be creatively inclined, but you’d be wrong.
Event managers are really event creators. You need to be creative enough to conceive of the vision for an entire event, able to bring all the disparate elements together in your minds eye to plan the perfect event, and then sell your client on it.
An event manager is like a painter in 4 dimensions – your standard 3-dimensions like a sculptor, plus the added dimension of time. Exceptional event management really is a fine art. So if you’ve always considered yourself a quirky creative, the ability to put your creative flair to good use may be a total pro!
On the other hand, if you’re more of an administrator without a creative bone if your body you may consider the necessity of being creative a con, and something you’ll need to work hard to compensate for if it does not come to you naturally.
– It Involves a lot of Travel
If you’re a homebody who doesn’t do well sleeping in a strange bed, the frequent travel that goes hand-in-hand with event management may be a con to you.
However, if you dream of sleeping in a different city every night, event management may just allow you to do so! It is up to you to decide frequent travel is the kind of thing you’re ready and willing to sign up for.
Willingness or unwillingness to travel can really make or break your career in the event management business, especially when you’re just starting out.
– Nothing Stays the Same, Not Even You
And this is actually a super positive because a constantly evolving industry means an endless potential for personal development and growth.
However, if you don’t cope well with change outside your control, you may think twice about a career in the event management industry, where macro and micro changes in the industry happen at lightning speed and usually with little to no warning.
If that’s the kind of thing you’re into, you may find constant change exciting, but we know it’s enough to send some people screaming and running for cover.
– You are Going to Need to Remember a Lot of Names
As an event manager you are going to meet, work for, and work with so, so, so many people, and every single one of them is going to expect you to remember their names; and you should, it’s just polite.
Now we’re not saying if you’re bad at names you can’t have an incredibly successful career in the industry, but we are saying that enjoying working with and getting to know people is a major check in the plus column, because if you don’t enjoy interacting with people you’re going to hate most of what your job event management job entails.
So, ball’s in your court, is frequent interaction with both employers, employees and colleagues a pro or a con in your world?
– Event Management Will Test Your Limits
Event Management is not for the faint of heart. It will push you beyond what you thought were your limits and expect you to show up at work tomorrow ready for more.
A career in the event management industry is like living with a shape shifting creature whose sole purpose in life is to challenge you – one day it looks like a wedding cake that hasn’t been delivered on time, and the next it looks like a corporate client who suddenly halved the event budget but expects the initial pitch to go unchanged.
Whatever that days challenges look like, you need to grin and bear it and get through it, because that’s what you’re being paid for. So if the thought of challenging work on a daily basis gets you down, this may be a tick for the cons column.
On the flip side, if testing your limits sounds like your cup of tea, a bright future may well be awaiting you in the event management industry!
– You Will (Get to) Experience Every Event You Organize
While this sounds like the cherry on top to some, we know there are those of you who love to be in bed by 9pm, and that’s the thing about event management – your office hours are typically your clients’ after hours.
That’s not to say you won’t be running around 9 to 5 either, but if attending the functions you’ve orchestrated sounds more like a punishment than a privilege, you may not be cut out for work in the event management industry.
Event Planning Specializations to Suit Your Skill Set
– Corporate Events
If you’ve a head for business coupled with a love of all things admin-related, becoming a corporate events manager could be right up your alley!
Corporate event planners and managers could be employed either in-house, and employed as part of the HR and/or marketing teams, or you could work freelance or for an event management company and plan events for a variety of corporations, perhaps even simultaneously, on an ad hoc basis.
Corporate events can include everything from conventions and product launches to brand activation events and year-end functions.
Corporate events can be private events, such as board of directors luncheons and team-building events, or they could be public events, such as product launches or public seminars.
Going into corporate event management can be financially rewarding, especially if you are employed as part of the company’s HR or marketing team, although the relationship you will build with your client(s) is not necessarily particularly personal, such as the one you may form with, for example, a client for whom you are coordinating a wedding.
If you value one-on-one interaction and connection with your clients, specializing in corporate event management, where you will likely report back to a team and not only to one person, and will have to take the disembodied company’s preferences and/or corporate culture into account while planning, may not be a good fit.
However, if you derive job satisfaction from the final product more so than the process, you may find the ability to plan multiple high-budget events at once and see them have a real impact on the company’s bottom line and profitability very rewarding regardless of whether or not the planning process was impersonal.
Planning corporate events as a staff member of the HR or marketing teams also means you may find yourself with more resources at your disposal than if you were working freelance and completing the same job.
The ability to delegate to an in-house team who are already briefed on the same event can save you time and the company money.
– Non-Profit Events
Non-profit events require of event managers to have a head for numbers, because, at the end of the day, the company hosting the event is not trying to make a profit for themselves, but the goal of non-profit events remain to raise awareness and funds for their chosen cause.
As the event manager you will need to ensure that the costs incurred in the planning and execution of the event are not likely to exceed the donations and contributions that the event is going to bring in.
The event also typically needs to make an emotional impact on attendees in order to prime them to part with their time and/or money in order to support your event’s cause.
Organizing non-profit events also typically means coordinating and managing volunteers as opposed to hired staff in order to keep costs low and involve supporters of the cause who are unable to contribute financially but would prefer to donate their time.
This may mean more micro-management of tasks and less delegating as you may not have access to service providers or staff that you would typically contract for a large-scale event such as, for example, hiring professional servers or advertising agencies.
Doing everything in-house in order to keep costs low may be a particularly challenging aspect of the job to some, especially if your primary talents do not lie in budgeting and cost management.
– Hotel and Restaurant Event Coordination
Hotel and restaurant event coordinators are typically in-house event managers employed by the venue, i.e. the hotel or restaurant full-time.
These full-time employees’ event management services then typically come standard with the hiring out of the venue (hotel or restaurant) when booking out the venue for a function. One of the pros of this particular kind of steady employment is the associated steady income.
Working for a hotel or restaurant for a fixed salary means your clients come to you and you have financial security during any off-season. Another reality of hotel and restaurant event coordination that could be an up or a downside depending on your preferences, is that while no two events will be identical, your canvas never changes.
You will always be planning events against the same backdrop of the hotel or restaurant at which you are employed.
The kinds of venues that keep event managers on staff also typically tend to attract the same kinds of guests, so you will likely be planning the same kinds of events year-round.
Think being hired as the event manager at a wine farm: odds are you will typically be planning and coordinating weddings, anniversaries and the like. Similarly, if you are an event coordinator at a boutique hotel in a university town, you may be tasked with planning and coordinating a lot of twenty-first birthday parties or graduation parties, for example.
The great thing about hotel and restaurant event coordination is that you build up a trusted network of vendors and suppliers who will also grow increasingly familiar with the venue and be able to work their magic in this familiar space.
Typically, catering is also in-house at venue events, and, as such, catering is one less thing for you to concern yourself about arranging.
– Tourism and Resort Events
Similar to the kind of full-time employment opportunities presented by hotel and restaurant event management, becoming a tourism or resort event manager for a holiday destination like a resort or theme park would ensure a stable fixed income year-round, but again, it will mean planning the same kinds of events for most of your career there.
Events may include birthdays, conferences and getaways for individuals and companies, etc.
Becoming a tourism and resort event manager comes with unique challenges, as the majority of your clients will be foreigners.
Challenges could include language barriers, cultural differences, currency conversion costs and associated issues, and travel snafus such as delayed or canceled flights or other weather-dependent activities and travel arrangements.
Other aspects of a career in tourism and resort events could include involvement in marketing efforts and communications as well as resort or tourism promotion.
– Sport Events
Sporting events coordination is a highly specialized field – not only does sporting event coordination encompass arranging sponsors, the venue, catering, the participants etc.
but if it is a sporting event on a global scale, it may also mean navigating the difficulties of coordinating across time zones!
However, there are typically very many cogs in the larger machine that is sporting events coordination and you could act as client liaison, or game day staff coordinator, or sponsorship coordinator etc. without being event director and in charge over overseeing all the subordinate cogs.
Sporting event budgets typically allow sporting event managers to delegate the majority of the planning and implementation details to their support staff so that they can oversee and pay attention to the big picture.
Positions related to Event Management
Individuals trained in professional event management are, however, not limited to careers in typical event management fields such as these.
Not all event managers plan weddings or golf days for a living.
A background in event management also sets you up perfectly for careers in sectors such as:
- Social media management
- Operations Management
- Project Management
8 Ways You Can Get Into The Events Industry
If you’re intrigued and want to know more about how you can break into this highly competitive industry, keep reading for some invaluable insider insight on the most effective ways to get ahead in the event management industry!
It may sound cliche but the best way to get ahead is to be prepared!
You can prepare yourself and set yourself up well for a successful career in the event management industry by:
1. Getting Work Experience
Having work experience is fundamental when you’re applying for jobs and even for studies in the event management industry in the future.
Whether your work experience is in the event management or a related industry or not is less important, but obviously related experience casts you as a candidate in a good light.
Even if you cannot find work in the event management or a related industry, unrelated work experience is still preferable to no work experience as work experience shows a potential employer or school that you are hardworking, can hold your own but also work successfully on a team and get the job done.
These are all fundamental skills that you can prove you have by showing work experience.
2. Volunteering for Events
Not only does unpaid work illustrate that you’re serious about the industry you’re trying to break into, but it is an opportunity for you to give back to your immediate community.
Volunteering to work as a waiter or a runner at a charity event allows you to experience the world you’re hoping to work in first hand while also allowing you to do your part for charity.
Volunteering at these sorts of events are also excellent networking opportunities.
Introduce yourself to the coordinator, get to know the vendors and make contacts for your future career! Make sure that your work is up to scratch before you go ahead and make yourself known though!
Remember, once the industry professionals know your face and name, your every move will be scrutinized, and you want to make sure you leave them with a favourable impression of you, your work ethic, and your dedication to the event management industry.
3. Applying for Internships
An internship with a well-known, working event manager is an invaluable opportunity for you to make contacts that will help you break into the industry in your own right when the time comes.
Even if you’re simply making coffee, there will still be countless opportunities to learn!
And it’s never too early to start!
Whether it’s a full-time paid internship or a job-shadowing opportunity you create for yourself as a student, shadowing a professional event manager is one of the quickest ways to pick up the tricks of the trade and to gain real-world experience.
As with volunteering at industry events, however, make sure that you’re ready to make a good impression before you explore internship and job-shadowing opportunities.
Better to try and break into the industry as an unknown entity than try to come back from making a terrible impression on a respected industry professional early on in your career.
4. Networking at Every Opportunity
Networking doesn’t need to be limited to your own work and volunteer work in the industry.
Network with the event manager and the vendors at parties at which you are a guest!
Treat every industry event you’re invited to as an opportunity to meet and connect with potential future business associates.
Vendors and event managers will typically be pleased to be acknowledged as more than part of the furniture at an event and will likely remember you in the future.
Just don’t make a nuisance of yourself and keep these industry professionals from doing their jobs.
A quick introduction and a compliment will suffice. Also, mention your interest in breaking into the industry yourself in the future and start collecting business cards!
5. Finding a Mentor
Often an internship naturally births a more intimate mentorship so internships are a great place to start, but either way, finding a professional event manager willing to take you under their wing and show you the ropes is a sure-fire way to ensure your future success in the industry.
These industry professionals have seen it all and lived to tell the tale, and their experience will be invaluable to you going forward.
They say a smart man learns from his own mistakes, but an intelligent man learns from the mistakes of others.
Be an intelligent man, listen and learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before you and make sure that you avoid making the same rookie mistakes they may have made when they were breaking into the industry.
6. Staying up to Date
Just like with fashion, staying on trend and up to date with the latest fads is fundamental to your success in the event management industry.
Subscribe to related magazines like interior design magazines, bridal magazines and the like to stay in touch with the latest trends. Don’t embarrass yourself by being completely out of touch with the industry you’re hoping to break into.
Nothing will kill your career faster than pitching a terrible, out of date and out of touch event/theme/idea to a potential client.
7. Standing Out
Find your niche and flog that horse till it stops making money.
If you have a knack for planning offbeat weddings, or if you have the country’s only connection for vodka-flavoured ice-sculptures that don’t melt at thirty degrees celsius, sell to your strengths and make sure you’re the go-to event manager for that particular thing that makes you stand out.
You won’t always be the best at everything, but you can definitely be the best at something, and that something should be your biggest selling point. Invest in it and invest in yourself and make sure you’re seen!
8. Consider the competition
It is not enough to know yourself and your strengths, you need to know your competition almost as well as, if not even better than yourself.
Knowing your competition will allow you to get out in front of them and nab the best jobs and opportunities for yourself.
Considering the competition will allow you to best equip yourself to compete and to dominate in this cutthroat industry.
If you’re interested in upping your game and breaking into the event management industry, The Aleit Academy is the place to be.
For more information on what makes The Aleit Academy the premiere training and education facility for the event managers of tomorrow, you can visit our profile and learn more about The Aleit Academy.