Event organisers are responsible for the production of events from conception through to completion. Events can include:
- exhibitions and fairs;
- promotions and product launches;
- fundraising and social events.
They work in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors and can work for event management companies, in-house for an organisation or freelance.
The role of event organiser is hands-on and often involves working as part of a team. Event organisers must be able to complete a wide range of activities requiring clear communication, excellent organisational skills and attention to detail.
They must work well under pressure, ensuring the smooth and efficient running of an event.
The role of event organiser varies depending on the organisation and type of event involved. Activities often include:
- researching markets to identify opportunities for events;
- liaising with clients to ascertain their precise event requirements;
- producing detailed proposals for events (e.g. timelines, venues, suppliers, legal obligations, staffing and budgets);
- agreeing to, and managing a budget;
- securing and booking a suitable venue or location;
- ensuring insurance, legal, health and safety obligations are adhered to;
- coordinating venue management, caterers, stand designers, contractors and equipment hire;
- organising facilities for car parking, traffic control, security, first aid, hospitality and the media;
- identifying and securing speakers or special guests;
- planning room layouts and the entertainment programme, scheduling workshops and demonstrations;
- coordinating staffing requirements and staff briefings;
- selling sponsorship/stand/exhibition space to potential exhibitors/partners;
- preparing delegate packs and papers;
- liaising with marketing and PR colleagues to promote the event;
- liaising with clients and designers to create a brand for the event and organising the production of tickets, posters, catalogues and sales brochures, plus social media coverage;
- coordinating suppliers, handling client queries and troubleshooting on the day of the event to ensure that all runs smoothly;
- overseeing the dismantling and removal of the event and clearing the venue efficiently;
- post-event evaluation (including data entry and analysis and producing reports for event stakeholders).
- Starting salaries for entry-level assistant roles range from £13,000 to £18,000.
- With a few years' experience, co-ordinators, officers and assistant managers can expect salaries from £16,000 to £35,000.
- Managers can earn from £30,000+ and senior managers with many years' experience and an impressive track record can command £50,000+.
- An annual salary survey of the sector is produced by Event magazine.
- Salaries vary according to employer, sector and geographical location.
- Performance-related pay, commission and bonuses are typical and can increase earnings.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Working hours can be fairly regular between projects but may involve additional and unsocial working hours depending on the nature of the event.
Part-time work and career breaks are possible but not especially common in this fast-paced business.
What to expect
- Event organisers are mainly office based but will travel to visit clients, partners, sponsors, venues and other suppliers. They may work indoors or outdoors, in all weather conditions, to plan and deliver events.
- Self-employment and freelance work is possible for those who have experience and an established network of contacts in the industry.
- Jobs are available throughout the UK, although they tend to be more closely associated with larger towns and cities, or locations with large conference and event venues.
- Travel within a working day, absence from home overnight and overseas work or travel will vary according to your specialist area and the nature of the events you are working on.
Although this area of work is open to all graduates and those with diplomas, the following degree/HND subjects may increase your chances:
- event management;
- hotel or catering management;
- leisure and tourism;
There is no typical route to becoming an event organiser, and you're unlikely to find a graduate training scheme in events management or direct-entry jobs advertised on a regular basis. However, the industry is expanding and graduate-level positions do exist.
Most organisations will recruit as vacancies arise, and jobs are generally open to all graduates who demonstrate the right skills and qualities. Speculative approaches are more likely to be successful when made to larger organisations.
Entry without a degree or HND is sometimes possible with relevant work experience.
A pre-entry postgraduate qualification in events management is not required but a relevant course could be advantageous if your first degree/HND is not related. For example, marketing and sales courses that are relevant to the events industry are offered by both:
Search for postgraduate courses in events management.
You will need to have:
- excellent organisational skills and attention to detail;
- project management experience;
- time-management skills and the ability to work under pressure;
- problem-solving skills and diplomacy;
- strong communication, teamwork and negotiation skills;
- sales and/or marketing skills;
- the ability to manage budgets;
- a flexible and adaptable approach.
Organisations are keen to recruit applicants with experience and knowledge of the industry so work experience is essential - whether it's paid or voluntary. Organising or helping with events for a student society, charity or other organisation is particularly useful, as is work in the hotel or travel industry and sales, marketing or customer service experience.
Work experience also provides a valuable opportunity to network and develop contacts in the industry.
The events industry has seen significant growth in recent years, and organisations involved in event management span both the public and private sectors, varying in size from small consultants to larger, multinational organisations.
Organisations where event management teams may be found include:
- specialist event management consultancies;
- conference and exhibition centres;
- events venues;
- large commercial organisations;
- public attractions;
- local authorities;
- public relations (PR) agencies.
Larger organisations are likely to handle all aspects of event management in-house or, in some cases, outsource the more specialist activity to relevant suppliers and organisations.
In smaller consultancies, the consultant tends to take on a coordinating role and will subcontract different parts of the planning process to a variety of specialists.
Look for job vacancies at:
- Association of Event Organisers (AEO)
- Brand Republic Jobs
- Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)
- Exchange - CIM
- Jobs.ac.uk - for jobs in higher education.
- National and local press.
A number of specialist recruitment agencies also specialise in events. These include:
Training opportunities vary depending on the size of the organisation you work for. Training is typically offered via short courses, run either in-house or externally.
Sessions covered typically include:
- conference and event planning;
- sales and sponsorship;
- project management;
- event marketing and copywriting;
- customer care;
- health and safety;
New event organisers will develop their skills and knowledge by working alongside experienced colleagues.
External training providers also offer a range of training courses. The following organisations provide a range of courses relevant to the events industry:
- Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) - professional development opportunities for members through meetings and seminars;
- Association for Conferences and Events (ACE) - member networking meetings and events;
- Association of Event Organisers (AEO) - range of training courses, including sales, marketing, and health and safety, aimed at event organisers;
- Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) - ranging from one-day sales and marketing courses to Certificate and Diploma qualifications;
- Emergency Planning College - courses in areas such as public safety;
- Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) - health and safety in the workplace;
- Meetings Industry Association (MIA) - one-day events, courses and seminars;
- Society of Event Organisers (SEO) - courses related to conference organisation.
Courses offered include:
- how to plan effective marketing events;
- sponsorship selling techniques;
- health and safety;
- risk assessment.
Some of the organisations listed above also provide student membership and run seminars relevant to people working within the events industry. Check individual websites for further details.
Event management is a competitive business and promotion will depend on a range of factors including:
- the type and size of the organisation you work for;
- how successful you've been in the post;
- your ability to demonstrate key skills and qualities in practice.
There is no clearly defined career path, and routes up the career ladder will vary from one organisation to another. Promotion may involve a move from an assistant post to team leader, which may include managing a small team, or to a different management role.
With experience, an event organiser is likely to take on responsibility for larger scale events, which are more complex to manage, involve higher profile clients and include bigger budgets.
Career progression is likely to involve changing jobs, moving to a larger company or, alternatively, setting up as a freelance event management consultant.
Building a strong network of contacts in the industry is essential for any of these routes.