Event Planner vs. Event Manager
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) combines the fields of event planning with convention planning. Against this backdrop, the primary functions of an event planner include:
- Coordinating the speakers’ arrivals and meet and greets
- Scouting and securing meeting locations
- Contracting to have print materials prepared
- Renting and testing audio-visual equipment and mikes
- Observing budgetary concerns of the employer
The BLS explains – and anecdotal evidence supports – that event planners are occasionally hobbyists who turned pro. Event planning factors in as one of the top-ranked home-based business opportunities, and administrative assistants as well as hospitality workers enter this line of work after learning the job hands-on. In 2008, the average median wage was $44,260.
In contrast, Simply Hired reveals that the median salary of an event manager – in 2011 – is $52,000. These professionals frequently function as the liaison between event planners and facility owners. As such, they represent the facility, its associated vendors and entertainers as well as ancillary organizations, such as labor unions and independent contractors. These pros must be industry insiders, know the return on investment that would make it possible to fulfill a special request and also have anecdotal experience of the types of requests the facility owner is unwilling to field.
Depending on the size of the employer’s business and the complexity of the events that the facilities hold, the event manager may be placed in charge of individualized event coordinators, who then work with outside event planners. This adds to the expertise the manager brings to the table and places him into the position of project manager.
Real Life Event Management
In reality, there is a lot of flux between event coordination, management and planning. The size of the professional’s employer dictates how the various terms are interpreted. Moreover, economy-driven job consolidation and changes in the businesses’ needs also influence whether an event manager’s duties fall more heavily on the administrative, project management or hospitality side of the equation.
The Common Thread: 5 Job Responsibilities
There are five commonalities among current job descriptions for event managers that bridge industries, employers and also localities.
- Enforces Safety Protocol. The event manager must have a solid understanding of local ordinances – such as they relate to facility-, participant- and food safety. She must know the regulations of the fire marshal with respect to the acceptable placement of furniture, and she must ensure that all contractors observe OSHA regulations germane to their industries. Neither the facility nor the sponsoring organization want the legal liability and bad PR that shoddy workmanship, unsafe work practices and improper food handling represent.
- Staffs Event. Whether it is the hiring of the event security staff, the independent contractors who put together the floral displays or the wait staff, the event manager will have some involvement in the human resources aspect of the event. He can be as remote as crunching the numbers to ensure that payroll does not exceed the allotted budget amounts or as hands-on as interviewing and selecting staff. Strong interpersonal skills and a staffing background – complete with best human resources practices in mind – are definite assets.
- Trains Specialty Staff. Are product demonstrations a part of the event? Does the age of the crowd warrant certain safety concerns? Is the event more a sales push or is it a “job well done” celebration? Each of these events requires specialty staff that sets the tone, keeps the energy high and ensures that the objectives of the company putting on the event are met. The manager must have a good understanding of the event’s ultimate goal and translate this vision into thorough training sessions with the staff that will fulfill it.
- Controls Expenses. Corporate events are means to an end. Either the company is looking to make money or heavily advertise a product. The facility seeks to capitalize on its merits to make money for the investors. No matter which side of the equation the manager might find herself, it is crucial that she controls spending and enforces budget adherence to the letter. Doing poorly in this area may jeopardize the professional’s future employment or employability (if working as a contractor).
- Delegates Responsibility. As an expert in project management, the event manager understand the delegation cycle and knows how to hand off responsibility and accountability – while nevertheless always keeping an eye on benchmarks. As the hub of the event’s lifecycle, the manager must know the various phases of event planning and where trouble may be possible.
Even as it is clear that job responsibilities of event manager professionals do offer some room for interpretation, it is just as obvious that these workers are consummate professionals with strong administrative, business, marketing and human resources backgrounds.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos298.htm
- Simply Hired, https://www.simplyhired.com/a/salary/search/q-event+manager
- Image: “EU meeting room for ambassadors” by Szilas/Wikimedia Commons via GNU Free Documentation License