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Do you love exciting events like theatre shows, festivals, book launches, weddings and dinner parties? Do you find that you are a naturally organised person with a willingness to help your friends and family at small-scale events? If so, you might be interested in how to get into events management.
An events management career is varied and challenging, but it is also very rewarding, and for the right person it is an excellent career choice with plenty of scope for career progression. In an events manager role, you will be responsible for setting up the event and ensuring it runs smoothly.
Events are happening all the time in hotels, restaurants, boats and public venues, such as weddings, anniversaries, business events and family gatherings. Although people turn up to these events and leave without a second thought, a huge amount of planning goes into making them successful.
Whether you’ve thought about how to get into event planning before or you are reading about it for the first time, this article has everything you need to know to get you started on your journey. You will find out more about what event planning is, what it requires, and how to get started with your career.
Why become an events manager
The work of an events manager is varied and rewarding. It requires a range of skills and would suit someone who is highly organised and good with people.
Events planning requires you to liaise with clients about their requirements, conduct thorough planning and organising, and curate the event to ensure everything runs smoothly. If you have ever organised an event on a small scale you will understand what the role might require and whether you are suited to it.
The hospitality sector
Pre-pandemic the UK’s hospitality industry employed 2.38 million people, representing 6.9% of UK employment. The industry includes food and beverages businesses, travel and tourism businesses, hotels and hostels, and entertainment and recreation businesses; within these, there is a wide range of roles and opportunities for employment and development – one of them is events management.
Events are an important part of the hospitality industry which cannot rely solely on tourism and seasonal trade. Instead, many hospitality venues lease their facilities for weddings, business meetings, celebrations, anniversaries and fundraisers. To make these events successful and build the brand name they have to be carefully organised and facilitated by professional events planners.
Initial earnings for events planners
If you enter the industry as a novice or an intern you can expect to start off at between £18,000 and £22,000 depending on your level of experience, your qualifications and the company you work for. As an intern, you will be learning the role by shadowing a more experienced events planner or manager.
In this role you can expect to learn how to liaise with clients to discuss their precise event requirements; research venues, suppliers and contractors; coordinate supplies and event logistics; give staff briefings; and ensure everything runs smoothly on the night. At this pay scale, you will not be expected to lead from the front.
Earnings for experienced planners
As you gain more confidence and experience in your role as an events planner your salary will increase. With experience, it will rise to between £22,000 and £25,000 and events managers can expect to earn between £33,000 and £40,000. At the level of £40,000 and above you would be considered a senior events manager or a director with considerable experience and an excellent track record.
As your salary increases, so your responsibilities increase as an events planner or manager. You will take on more responsibility for the planning and running of the event as well as the conduct and training of staff. By any measure, the events industry is massive with 570,000 jobs supported and over 25,000 businesses in the UK – good news if you’re the planning type.
Skills required to be successful
There is a difference between Skills and Attributes, which we will look at more closely in this section. If you are interested in an events manager career, chances are you already have some of the attributes and skills needed to be successful, but if you don’t, there’s no time like the present to start upskilling.
Attributes needed for success
A personal attribute can be defined as a quality or aspect of a person that is innate in their personality. While an attribute can be a negative trait it is usually thought of as a positive characteristic that contributes to personal success in a job role or a life role. The role of events planner or manager requires a range of attributes.
An events manager’s role is varied. You need to have excellent organisational skills, communication skills, listening skills, and many more attributes including dedication and flexibility to be successful in the role. You might read the list below and decide you are a natural fit, but if you don’t have enough of these attributes there is still a way in for you.
Events manager traits
- Communication skills.
- A people person.
- A team player.
- A flexible attitude.
- A positive attitude.
- Highly organised.
- Highly efficient.
- Budgeting skills.
- Attention to detail.
- Pride in work.
- Active determination.
- Stamina for long hours.
- Listening skills.
Successful personality types
There’s no question that some personality types will do better in the role and have an easier time than others. People whose core personality trait is “organisation”, for example, or someone who has a natural blend of “communication” and “attention to detail”, are likely to handle the challenges of events management more comfortably.
Still, if you have a personality that is centred around a different core trait, or set of traits, you can still train yourself in areas suited to an events management role. Although you might not have a ready-made personality, you can proactively learn the skills you need. These people are often very successful because they work harder in their weaker areas.
Skills you can learn
Have you heard of a “limiting belief” before? A Limiting Belief is a set of thoughts, opinions and attitudes about your aptitude to meet the requirements of a role or task. An example might be the idea that you are a “poor communicator”. This could be rooted in your family history or from a previous job role. The trick is to overcome your limiting beliefs.
If you really want to become an events manager but you believe you are a “poor communicator” or you are not the “organised type”, it’s time to challenge that limiting belief and test yourself in new areas. Start with a personal development plan, then test yourself in new situations.
Once you have decided that events management is the career direction you want to take, it’s time to take steps in that direction. You can begin with formal training at an institution or on-the-job experience. If you opt for the latter it’s also a good idea to take some courses to cover the theory as well. Below is everything you need to get started.
How to get started with events management
Degrees and training courses for events management are available at universities, colleges and online platforms, and while they are useful and give you a full picture of the industry, they aren’t strictly necessary to get started in this career.
If you have the natural abilities for events management it can be more useful to learn the practicalities on the job, but if you don’t have the experience to apply for a full-time job just yet consider an internship or a job at a lower tier that has the potential for career progression.
How to improve your qualities
If you’re leaving school or university and you have the qualities for a career in events management it makes sense to apply for an internship or a related job right away. You will already have the organisation, collaboration and communication skills needed to step into the role.
If you don’t possess these qualities but you want a career in events management you might still qualify for an internship where you can develop these skills in an approximate role. Otherwise, it’s best to seek out opportunities elsewhere; start to build your skills with online articles like this one that teaches you how to reduce work-related stress.
Training and courses
When it comes to training and courses for events management there are many options available. Depending on your skillset and level of education and experience you might only need a week of training in a related subject to qualify you for interview success.
Conversely, you might require a full undergraduate degree or complete college course if you want to learn the trade from scratch. The good news is there is something to suit everyone; there are even online platforms that let you study and train at your own pace.
How to optimise your CV
Broadly, there are two types of CV you can create: a skills-based CV and a chronological CV. Both have their advantages but you need to decide on the one that is best suited for you and the job role. Either way, you will have to demonstrate the core qualities needed to work as an events planner.
At the top create a Professional Profile – a brief overview paragraph that is best written last. Following that include a Core Skills section with all the skills needed for the events manager position. You will then outline a career summary (chronological CV) or examples of where you acquired your skills (skills-based CV).
A more hands-on approach
Whether you go down the route of formal study or go it alone with various courses and volunteer jobs, you will eventually land in a hands-on events management situation. For this reason, it’s a good idea to get the practical experience required for the role as well as the theory. There are various ways you can implement this method.
Events are happening all the time of various sizes and scales. You have small local events like book launches in the high street bookshop and large-scale events like music festivals. In each case, there are opportunities for you to get hired for events management or to volunteer.
Many people take these roles for extra money or for perks like getting backstage passes, but if you’re career-minded they make excellent opportunities for you to gain insight into events management in practice, network and acquire experience that will be valuable in your first interviews and jobs.
Networking is a crucial part of events management and something you will have to train yourself in quickly, but don’t worry, if you’re already a good communicator it will soon become second nature to you. The fact is that most events management jobs are not advertised but are passed on through word of mouth and exchanging business cards.
Even if you are working at an event or employed by a company you still need to keep your ears up. Formal and informal networking is second nature in the events management industry so it’s best to develop these key skills as soon as possible. Don’t miss an opportunity on your career journey to put your name and face in front of potential clients.
Training and working
Let’s say you decided against the university route; the fees are too high and you’re not convinced by the course schedule, you think maybe you can get more of what you need on your own for a fraction of the cost. While this approach might not suit everyone it is smart thinking for the right candidate.
However, if you do decide to go it alone remember that you need the theory as well as the hands-on approach. You might know how to do something on the job, but unless you know why you are carrying out an action you will be limited in your scope and your career progression. Learn all about CPD points in our knowledge base.
Building a contacts list
Why is a contacts list important?
With around 1.3 million business events held each year in the UK, networking is a vital part of working in the events management industry; and it is not only formal events and informal circumstances these days, you can also network online. Networking is the way you find clients and work; it is also how you build your experience and reputation in the industry.
When you have a professional contacts list you know who to contact and reach out to for career advice, information, B2B relations and for career information. When you grow your contacts list and stay active in the community you have more job security and more career opportunities.
How to build a contacts list
There are several ways you can start networking in the industry and growing your contacts list. The first and most obvious way is to head to college or university where you will encounter well-known industry figures and your colleagues of the future. Make use of this early opportunity to bond and build contacts.
Later, you will build your contacts at industry events – often set up for this purpose – volunteering or working in different places, and online through platforms like LinkedIn and other social media channels. Determine your ecosystem and get to know colleagues and clients relevant to the work and to your career progression.
Events management is a job role found in the hospitality sector, however, many other sectors use events managers such as the entertainment industry. The job is extremely important for the organisation and implementation of events that contribute to revenue streams. You can learn how to get into events management even if you are not naturally suited to the role.
To be successful in an events management career you will need to be highly organised, flexible and an excellent communicator. There are many other supporting qualities but these ones are fundamental for the role. Some people have a natural aptitude for this role while others have to work harder to develop the skills, but, if you’re committed to finding out how to get into events planning, there are plenty of ways to develop.
Some people find their way into the industry through an internship or a volunteer position, others will go to university or college to study. Either way, you will need to develop a foundation of knowledge and experience of the industry to be successful at any level. Eventually, when you enter the industry, contacts and networking start to play a more crucial role in your career development.