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Top Tips For Starting An Events Management Business

If you are you interested in earning and living big, then event management is a business you might consider. The increasing number of live entertainment shows by corporate organisations such as telecom companies, corporate events…

By Oluyinka Alawode

If you are you interested in earning and living big, then event management is a business you might consider. The increasing number of live entertainment shows by corporate organisations such as telecom companies, corporate events, exhibitions, carnivals, festivals, seminars and conferences has boosted the business of event planning.

According to Jennie Gandhi, an experienced event planner, events are considered to be a power tool for marketing, advertising, promotion and communications mix for all companies. It has therefore become the most significant part of any marketing strategy.

Gandhi said: “A large number of companies are looking forward to good event management companies as a means of building a brand image for them. This therefore calls for a demand of event management companies in the business sector. These companies require specialisation in planning, visualisation, creativity and venue management. Personnel of these companies should be skilful, talented and creative to organise and execute any kind of private or public event.”

Social events like weddings, birthdays, funerals, chieftaincy title ceremonies in the African society have also boosted incomes for the industry such that more and more entrants keep coming in.

Many event planners in Nigeria today started by just helping their relatives, friends or colleagues organise their events. Since it is now evolving into a very lucrative business, practitioners are beginning to insist that event management is a profession. So, an association that would also function as a regulatory body is soon to be launched.

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Esther Samson, an event planner, chief executive of Estelle, noted, “We are trying to professionalise it; event management is a professional, experienced organised service. We have some people who are not licensed doing it, so we are starting an event management association so that we can know ourselves and strengthen one another to have greater impact.”

Samson revealed that registration of members for the association had started, saying “interested persons can get the forms at Sapphire Events, off Herbert Macaulay, Yaba. It is being spearheaded by Funke Bucknor. She has paid her dues and she has carved a niche for herself. She is doing well and she is the one setting up the association with a few of our mentors who have been in the business for much longer.

“There are different categories of membership. Part of the requirements for the association is that a planner who has less than five years experience in the business must be recommended by another who is much older in the business. We do not want members who are just walking by in the business, pending the time they get something different to do. Of course, there would be people who may not want to join the association, but they cannot distract us.

“If we are claiming that event management is an organised professional service, we would not be true to ourselves if we do not have an organisation. There would also be all the usual association benefits, such as preventing exploitation of members. There would be standards, so that we would not have for instance a planner being coerced into accepting N25, 000 to do decorations for a big event. Members can also draw from one another’s wealth of experience.

“Even the motorcycle riders and those who push will-barrows have associations. How much more a solid profession like event management. When we have established, there would be trainings, seminars, workshops and mentoring.”

On her business, she disclosed that Estelle Event Management Company started five years ago, explaining that “I am an event planner – I offer full event management services from planning to coordinating, to providing ushers, to decorating. I do red-carpet treatment for weddings and other social events. But I do mostly corporate events now.

“We organise the event from conception of the idea to the end. I also do capacity building, as I provide mentoring along with the training so that my trainees can call me for advice when they get into the business.

She does not see the difficulties she experience in the business as challenges because her passion is what drives it. I see my challenges as stepping stones; I just get around them and move ahead. Many Nigerians still do not appreciate event management. It is just an industry that is evolving. When one tells a bride for instance that she needs a wedding event planner, she asks what the big deal is and says my mum can get the rice, my friends can do my makeup, my aunties can provide the chairs, and my brother’s wife will bake my cake.

Planning an event is beyond that, even when you have people that can do all the major things, someone is still needed to coordinate all the activities. The event planner will ensure the musicians set up their instruments at the appropriate place, that the chairs are arranged accordingly, that there are people to welcome the guests, tell them their reservations and parking spaces, guide them to their seats and ensure they are comfortable.

The planner will tell the caterers where to stay and direct in serving, so that no guest is neglected. In spite of people’s attitudes, we still get patronage and satisfied customers.

“I do all aspects of event management services, but I have particular interest in the décor. For some event planners, it is the food that is their specialty. I like a situation when people walk into my event and get surprisingly delighted at the beauty of the venue, says Samson.

She continues, “There are some events I need only five ushers, and some that I need 50 and some 25. It would be foolish to keep 50 ushers permanently on my payroll. So, I keep a few people on my payroll – a personal assistant, a logistics manager, a few in creative department and in the media. I have an accountant.

“We even have a lawyer because there are terms and conditions in our services. But for the ushers, they are not on my payroll except the two in logistics department. There are also people that are not on my payroll, but I have an understanding with them that when I have an event, they would work with me.

“My core value is diligent and courteous services. My mission is to position and sustain Estelle as Nigeria’s foremost professional event management company, and I am working at it seriously”, says Samson.

Tips for starting an event management business

You can get into event management by joining a firm that will help you gain experience and learn client specific requirements. After a year or two, when you feel you have gained enough understanding and experience of the industry, you can go ahead and open the veil of your own future for name and fame.

Starting the right business you need resources, equipment and a hardworking workforce. So, the day when you finally decide to start off with your own business – first hunt for few personnel who can be a part of your organisation and help you in promoting your business. Keep one thing in mind while hunting for the workforce, as education does not necessarily open doors to creativity and imaginations. These qualities are inbuilt.

There may be cases where you might get highly qualified personnel, who may lack analytical thinking, creativity, good communication skills and other skills and abilities essential for the business. At the other end, there are people who are just a graduate but have good analytical skills, wild imaginations and a strong networking as well.

The fundamental qualities required for starting any event management business or hiring personnel for your business are good analytical thinking, client service orientation, good negotiation skills, ability to work under pressure, teamwork, planning and good networking.

Analytical or critical thinking is essential to acknowledge and solve any problem obstructing the business potential. Client or customer service orientation helps in meeting and fulfilling the needs of the clients as well as customers.

If you want to become an astute minded businessman, then it is needless to say that teamwork, good negotiation skills and good networking skills are the basic requirements for any business to start off, according to Gandhi.

Content Provider: BusinessDay Entrepreneur

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