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What is Event Management?

By Terri Godwin

In association with

EDWARDIAN
Now that procurement has taken hold of meetings spend in many
companies, what area of expenditure will be next to be wrestled from
the grasp of the independent budget holder?

In 2007 the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and


Supply (CIPS) produced a guide to buying event
management services with the help of its Event
Services Industry and Procurement Focus Group.

The document stated that “the role of procurement


in the management of event services is here to stay,
and their involvement has brought about an increased
level of professionalism and accountability. But at
the same time, it is important that they understand
the category that they are buying, and that by all
parties working together, the business benefits to
all will increase. Event management should be
purchased the same way as commodities – with
objectivity, accountability and an established
Event management covers procurement process.”
a range of activities involved in
running a small meeting or And yet the leap from meetings to events seems
seminar right through to an so small that event management must surely be
international conference for up
the prime candidate for assimilation, deletion, or
to 1,000 delegates
extermination. Or, in procurement-speak, the dreaded
‘consolidation’.

In a way, event managers should be flattered. For


procurement to be taking an interest is testimony
to the strides this professional discipline has taken
since, as Fiona Dodds of White & Case puts it,
“Event management was born with the chairman’s
PA. Traditional event management was about
database management and party planning.
Now, this is a serious profession.”

So precisely what is event management?

Event management covers a range of activities


from a small meeting or seminar right through to an
international conference for up to 1,000 delegates.

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Event management can also include the organisation
of internal parties, corporate hospitality for customers,
small national conferences, exhibitions, sponsorship
and community relations, organising a press
conference or sporting events. Whether you’re dealing
with an internal or external
event you must understand
Now I should know a bit about this, having been an
and identify the event goals,
Events Manager for most of my career. In my opinion, the business objectives,
the role of the event manager is to pull together all the requirements of the
elements of an event from concept through to attendees
execution within budget. Whether you’re dealing
with an internal or external event you must understand
and identify the event goals, the business objectives,
the requirements of the attendees and, most
importantly, you need to know what the budget is.

In a typical event for, say, 400 delegates, this might


require a large meeting area for plenary sessions,
several breakout rooms for smaller groups,
accommodation for all delegates, speakers and
crew members, plus entertainment off site for both
evenings, the second of which is a gala dinner with
an awards ceremony. Not to mention meals
throughout the conference.

As a well-informed event manager you’ve hopefully


already appointed HBI to help source the meetings
space and manage the accommodation, but you
still need to gather a lot of information before you
can carry out a risk assessment or visit your short
listed venues.

When you do, there’s a wealth of criteria to be


assessed in which the venue places little or no part;
how quickly you clear customs and immigration, the
wait for luggage, the number of taxis available, and
the length of time to the venue. If your delegates
need to know, so do you as the Event Manager.

Now you’re getting the idea.

Many corporates retain the services of event


management companies, and HBI works closely with
a number of leading providers, as HBI Sales Director
David Taylor explains. “In an event you could have
tens or even hundreds of different contributing
suppliers. This is one of the reasons why procurement,
and even internal event managers elect to outsource
to event management companies who then
co-ordinate all these separate strands.”

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Some larger international events will even require
multiple agency appointments, with perhaps a
logistics agency handling delegate transport and
management; a production specialist looking after the
visual elements of the event and a communications
agency to convey the message of the event to its
audience.

The CIPS guide to event management identifies


three different models which are routinely adopted
by corporate or association-based buyers in dealing
with the supply chain. The first is Hub & Spoke,
where procurement acts as the former, contracting
directly with each individual supplier. Second is the
Supplier Panel, in which procurement controls each
element of the event through specialist providers in
each of three categories - logistics, communication
and content. In the third – single source supplier –
procurement outsources every aspect of the event
through a multi-service agency.

There are, of course, exceptions. HBI client Nicola


Handley is Head of Events, Europe at Barclays
Global Investors, based in London. Nicola’s team is
“You have to focus on an internal agency, providing value-added services
what the objectives are ranging from organising dinners to major hospitality
and measuring the return events. What does event management mean in her
against those objectives.” experience?
Nicola Handley,
Barclays Global
“You have to focus on what the objectives are and
measuring the return against those objectives” she
replies. “We do this by sending out internal surveys
after every event from which we receive feedback.
It’s all about relationships.”

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“Achieving the objective is the top priority. Creativity
and innovation are very important. A great event
doesn’t have to mean a big budget. Barclays Global
Investors and other global asset managers are all
competing for the same business so everyone’s
clients get a lot of invitations to events.”

21st century business life places people’s time at a


premium, so the biggest challenge faced by many
event managers can be getting the right people to
attend, as Nicola Handley attests. “For many events,
it’s hard to get people to give up their valuable time.
That’s why we’ve had some success with events
where clients can bring their families.”

“The way in which you invite people is important


too. A quirky invitation can make a huge difference.
For example, at a previous company I invited a
group of rugby journalists to a tank-driving event
by sending them each a pair of green wellies.”

Every event starts with a venue, and as any event


manager will tell you, picking the right venue is
usually the difference between success and failure of
the event itself. Nicola Handley of Barclays Global: “I look for integrity, honesty
and people who know what
“From a venue I look for flexibility and a can-do
they are talking about in my
attitude, but they need to know what they are suppliers.”
doing, especially when it comes to health & safety.” Nicola Handley,
Barclays Global
“I look for integrity, honesty and people who know
what they are talking about in my suppliers. Events
Managers are very savvy about suppliers these
days; for example they know what size of lighting
rig is required for an event. They are also more
professional; event management is a sophisticated
business these days.”

If you need any further encouragement to deal with


venues via a specialist like HBI, just consider the
multitude of criteria that your chosen supplier must
meet. Apart from the question of whether the main
meeting room is big enough, are there enough rooms
large enough to accommodate all the breakout
sessions? Is there sufficient bed space for delegates,
crew and speakers? Are the ceilings high enough to
put staging and back projection in for the plenary
sessions? Will you be able to use your preferred
room layouts or will you need to compromise?

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You need to visit and select venues for the social
events, arrange ground transportation, select caterers,
audition potential entertainers and meet local audio
visual companies. And this is only the beginning of
the event management process.

From the venue side, it is those venue operators who


What is ‘An Event’?
have tailored their products to the needs of the event
An ‘Event’ can be defined as an manager who are best positioned to comment.
offsite (outside of the company Radisson Edwardian Hotels has 130 spaces available
offices) or onsite (on the at its hotels in London, Heathrow and Manchester for
company’s premises) gathering
event of all types, as Director of Sales & Revenue
for two or more people, either
for internal or external purposes.
Lisa Smith explains.
This could be in the UK or
overseas. “Many of the facilities in Radisson Edwardian hotels
Source: Chartered Institute of
are bespoke. The facilities are unique within London
Purchasing & Supply and this allows the company to compete, not just
with other luxury hotels, but with other non-hotel
meetings space that is one of a kind. The food offering
at Radisson Edwardian is certainly very different to
our competitors because it is devised to meet the
needs of each event. We’re very creative with food,
which is one reason we attract special events.”

As to why Radisson Edwardian Hotels attract so


many special events, Lisa says “we ensure that each
event is bespoke. We look for ways to improve the
function and by making sure that we conduct a
debrief after each event, we learn from our clients’
experiences and identify how we might do better for
the next event.”

“At the end of the day, we aim to build long term


relationships so that suppliers and event managers
alike become ambassadors for Radisson Edwardian
Hotels in the future” Smith concludes.

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Technology – and specifically the internet - is now
playing a much bigger role in event management.
Innovative, electronic invitations are a common feature
of events; a robust delegate registration system is
vital, and no high profile event can afford not to have a
dedicated website to provide delegates with information
about speakers, travel, session topics and so on.
Delegate Registration
Systems
According to Nicola Handley “delegate registration
Ennect s the key technology element of meetings. Barclays
CVENT Global Investors is developing a global calendar
HCUK
which will be accessible to all regions when planning
Regonline
events, but overall there will also be greater automation
Bthere
of authorisation, planning and evaluation.”
Source: Travel Intelligence Network

Ever-advancing technology can present venues with a


dilemma. What level of AV and presentation technology
should be provided in house, and how should it be
priced?

Radisson Edwardian Hotels’ Lisa Smith confirms


her company’s strategy. “We strive to include cutting
edge technology in our rates. Video conferencing has
re-emerged as a ‘must have’ for event managers,
now that costs have come down and companies are
focussing more on meetings avoidance as a result of
CSR policies.”

“In terms of actual facilities it’s about expecting the


unexpected. For example, Radisson Edwardian
Hotels has venues that are equipped to the highest
standards including, in various locations, surround
sound, digital cinema projectors, 4 channel translation
systems, 35mm film projectors for wide-screen and
cinema-scope productions, interactive audience
response systems, video and audio feeds between
meeting rooms and bedroom suites. That’s a lot of
technology.”

The skills set required of the 21st century event


manager is as wide as it is varied. As well as the
expertise in project management, people and logistics,
the event manager must also adept at marketing – or
work with someone who is! From creating the logos
for the theme of the event, to producing the website,
documentation, signage and menus; then to deciding
how to publicise the event, creating and issuing the
invitation. All are on the event manager’s ‘to do’ list.

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But having identified the various responsibilities and
of event manager, the skills required and some of the
challenges to be overcome, what actually makes a
good event manager? We asked another HBI client
- Jo Walker of global management consultancy
Oliver Wyman.

“Good event management is about ensuring the


smooth running of an event from start to finish,
and ensuring that every attendee has a seamless
experience” she replies. “Value for money is crucial
from the company’s point of view, but for the event
attendee it’s about the quality of that experience.
Event management isn’t about working your way
down a checklist.”

We started by asserting that procurement has


identified event services as its next conquest. But
just how interested is procurement in subsuming
events space? As we’ve seen, commoditising events
will be even harder than it has been for meetings.
And, at the end of the day, is it worth it to even try?

David Taylor of HBI believes, there is evidence that


procurement is beginning to segment event spend
separately to meetings. Event spending is becoming
more sophisticated and procurement are no longer
focusing on the big ticket items.

I believe things will look different in 12 months. The


challenges facing procurement in controlling events
spend are so similar to those affecting meetings
spend that the answer to whether procurement will
subjugate events spend may well lie in the degree
of financial payback which will, inevitably, vary from
company to company.

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The Barriers to Effective Management of Events Spend

1. Lack of senior management focus


Many companies do not know how much they spend on events and it does not appear
to often have the support and focus from senior management

2. Absence of formal guidelines and policies


Only 20% of the companies have an events policy. Events is usually a sub section in
the Travel Policy

3. De-centralised execution without central co-ordination


Without central control and coordination the look, feel and the quality of each event may
vary and there may be no overseeing of all the various contracts being signed by the
people involved.

4. Lack of management information / spend data


Companies cannot accurately report spend, as often the spend falls across a number
of different cost categories.

5. Lack of ‘demand management’


Demand management is about reducing consumption or improving the return on investment.
In many cases, there was little or no proven business benefit for the event to be held.

6. Fragmentation of purchasing
Purchasing power is often not leveraged in this category due to the fragmented spend
possibly across fragmented business units.

7. Difficult in measuring effectiveness


Measuring event effectiveness in a meaningful and insightful way can be difficult. Many
post- event survey forms can be about the superficial elements such as the food and the
temperature in the room.

8. Resistance to change
Who controls the meeting budgets can be an emotional issue.

Sources: American Express, AT Kearney, CIPS

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Room layouts

U-SHAPE
• Seating around three sides of the room - good for presentations from front
• Square layout conducive to discussion
• Presentation space in middle of the room

BOARDROOM STYLE (can be adapted to a hollow square layout)


• Centrally located table
• Classic layout ideal for debate and discussion
• Popular for smaller meetings

THEATRE STYLE
• Used for product launches, presentations, displays
• Used to present to large numbers of delegates
• Allows for optimal room occupancy

CLASSROOM STYLE
• Used to present to small to medium groups
• Delegates (in ones or twos) have own workspace
• Ideal for testing and individual training

CABARET STYLE (also known as Bistro or Cafe Style)


• All delegates facing front-centre on round tables
• Large space in the middle of the room
• Ideal for small-group work

DINNER/DANCE LAYOUT
• Tables around the outside of the room
• Dancefloor in central area
• Used mostly for weddings and evening entertainment

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Conferences.Think differently.
For 700 to 2 people at 13 luxury hotels in London and Manchester. Visit radissonedwardian.com