President’s Blog

Nina Kressler, CEO And President of the Shaw Centre

What they don’t teach you at event management school

Published on April 24, 2019

There are many paths that can lead to a successful career in event planning or event management. Some people enter the field with backgrounds in communications or marketing, while others pursue programs of study to prepare them for work in this fast-paced, dynamic industry. At Shaw Centre we are fortunate to have an in-house team of experts who enjoy working with event planners from all over the world.

Having hosted thousands of events, what we’ve noticed is that among the skills and knowledge to succeed in event planning – many of which are typically covered in reputable education programs – are the following:

  • Marketing
  • Sponsorship
  • Logistics
  • Budgeting
  • Risk management
  • Programming
  • Entertainment
  • People management
  • Technology for planning and running events.

If you have a passion for planning, and enjoy organizing events while working under strict budgets and deadlines, then you just might have what it takes to be successful at event management. But be aware that there’s a good chance you’ll go into your first event (and maybe even your tenth or your fiftieth) and discover some new things about the business that you didn’t learn at event management school. We’re happy to share a few lessons with you here:

  • It’s all about the details. When there are a zillion priorities competing for your attention, it can be easy to think that a small detail or two that you don’t attend to will go unnoticed. Trust us, it won’t. As an example, WiFi for guests is rarely free at event venues and needs to be booked ahead of time. Forget this detail, and you’ll have some unhappy attendees on your hands. Similarly, be sure to ask at the outset about other costs such as booking a freight elevator or renting tables and draping.
  • Being organized is crucial. This goes hand in hand with paying attention to detail. There’s lots of planning software available to help you, and delegating to those whom you trust is another great way to ensure you stay organized, especially on the days leading up to your event and on the big day itself.
  • Site visits are important. No matter how many questions you think to ask ahead of time, until you see the space in which you’ll be working, it’s hard to develop a plan that covers all the bases. And remember that just because something works on paper, there’s a human element to every event. Sure, you can fit everything into the floorplan, but how will the flow work for guests?
  • Things always take more time than you expect. Maybe you’ll encounter bad weather or horrendous traffic tie-ups as you are heading to your venue with a van full of supplies. Or perhaps someone on your team will sustain an injury and be unable to carry boxes or set up displays as hoped. Whatever the reason, you need to build a buffer into your schedule.
  • Roll with the punches. All kinds of things can happen, so you need to be okay with going off script and either instituting or accepting last minute changes to your program. If you can do this and keep a smile on your face (even if you’re faking it), you’re well on your way to being an all-star event planner.