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Event Organiser

Event organisers are responsible for planning events and ensuring that they run as smoothly as possible. They work on:

  • large-scale events, such as the 2012 Olympics
  • conferences, seminars, workshops and meetings, both national and international
  • corporate events, such as team building sessions or training courses
  • incentive travel - trips and other events given by companies to their staff
  • trade fairs and exhibitions
  • festivals, concerts, charitable and sporting events
  • private events, such as banquets, weddings and parties.

The organiser's exact role depends on the type of event and the organisation they are working for, but is likely to include research, planning, administration, marketing, preparing budgets and managing income and expenditure. Event organisers liaise closely with a wide range of people.

Event organisers may work long, unsociable hours, including evenings and weekends.

Organisers divide their time between working in an office, visiting venues and meeting clients. This may result in lengthy periods away from home.

Salaries range from around £14,000 to £60,000 or more at senior levels.

An event organiser should:

  • be well organised and efficient
  • be able to multi-task
  • have good project-management and problem-solving skills
  • be able to cope with pressure and tight deadlines
  • have excellent communication skills
  • be interested in the events industry.

The main employers are independent event management companies and large organisations that have their own in-house departments to organise events. The events industry is growing, but entry is competitive.

Many event organisers have a degree, foundation degree, Higher National Diploma/Certificate (HND/HNC) or postgraduate qualification, although this is not essential. Colleges throughout the country offer relevant courses, for instance in events management or hospitality and events management.

Event organiser is often a second career. Previous experience in the travel industry, hotels, publishing, sales and marketing or any customer service role is useful.

Event organisers gain skills and knowledge on the job and by working alongside more experienced colleagues. There are many training courses available from the industry's professional organisations, covering all aspects of the job, from sponsorship to crowd safety.

Career progress often involves moving to a different employer. Self-employment and overseas work are possible.

What is the work like?

Event organisers are responsible for planning events and ensuring that they run as smoothly as possible. They work on:

  • large-scale events, such as the 2012 Olympics
  • conferences, seminars, workshops and meetings, both national and international
  • corporate events, such as team-building sessions or training courses
  • incentive travel - trips and other events given by companies to their staff, as a reward for achievement
  • trade fairs and exhibitions
  • festivals, concerts, charitable and sporting events
  • private events, such as banquets, weddings and parties.

The organiser's exact role depends on the type of event and the organisation they are working for, but may include:

  • researching, visiting and booking venues and accommodation
  • planning the programme and booking speakers
  • administration, including recruitment and delegate registration
  • organising exhibition space and selling stands
  • marketing and publicity
  • co-ordinating audio-visual and banqueting facilities
  • security, risk management, health and safety
  • preparing budgets, managing income and expenditure.

Much of the work is carried out before an event takes place. During the event, the organiser is on hand to ensure everything runs smoothly and to cope with any problems that arise. Afterwards, the organiser evaluates the success of the event and deals with outstanding finances.

Event organisers liaise closely with a wide range of people throughout the process, including designers, caterers, and sales and marketing and hospitality staff.

Hours and environment

Event organisers usually work office hours, Monday to Friday. However, in preparation for, and during an event, they need to be flexible and often work long, unsociable hours, including evenings and weekends.

Organisers divide their time between working in an office, visiting venues (both to assess new facilities and to attend actual events) and meeting clients. This may mean lengthy periods away from home, and foreign travel is sometimes required.

The work takes place indoors and outdoors. Most major indoor venues are modern, light and well ventilated. Smaller events are held in hotels, in halls or in venues such as museums, castles and stately homes. Outdoor venues range from showgrounds and racecourses to fields, parks, seafronts and town centres.

Salary and other benefits

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay vary depending on the employer and where people live.

  • Starting salaries range from around £14,000 to £18,000 a year.
  • Experienced organisers may earn between £20,000 and £40,000 a year.
  • Event managers can earn up to £60,000. Higher earnings are possible at the most senior levels.

Independent organisers are paid a management fee for a project or series of events.

Skills and personal qualities

An event organiser should:

  • be well organised and efficient
  • have stamina
  • be able to multi-task
  • be a team player
  • have excellent communication skills, with the ability to deal with a very wide range of people
  • be imaginative and creative
  • be able to cope with pressure and tight deadlines
  • be flexible and able to deal with last-minute changes or problems
  • have a sense of humour
  • have good business, marketing, negotiating and selling skills
  • have good project-management and problem-solving skills
  • have IT and numeracy skills.

Interests

It is important to be interested in:

  • the events industry
  • keeping up to date with changing facilities and technology.

Getting in

There are two main types of employer:

  • Independent event management companies, which organise events on a contract basis. These are usually quite small firms, employing fewer than 20 staff. Many consist of just one person, who buys in expertise as necessary.
  • Large companies, professional associations, charities or government departments that have their own in-house event and exhibition departments.

The largest venues and event management companies are in major cities such as London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester. The events industry is growing, but entry is competitive.

Vacancies are advertised in trade magazines such as Conference & Incentive Travel, Conference News, Event, Exhibition Bulletin, Exhibition News and Meetings & Incentive Travel. Jobs are also advertised in the national and local press, on the websites of the various professional associations and on www.uksp.co.uk There are recruitment agencies that specialise in this field.

Entry routes

Although there are no set entry requirements for event organisers, many have a degree, foundation degree, Higher National Diploma/Certificate (HND/HNC) or postgraduate qualification.

Colleges throughout the country offer relevant courses, for instance in events management, conference and exhibition management, or hospitality and events management. Courses in marketing, business, tourism and hospitality are also relevant to this type of work.

As a guide, minimum requirements for entry onto a foundation degree or Higher National Diploma course are normally one A level and three to four GCSEs (A*-C), or equivalent; for a degree course, the minimum requirements are normally two A levels and five GCSEs (A*-C), usually to include English and maths, or equivalent.

As entry requirements to courses are likely to vary, candidates are advised to check with individual institutions.

Qualifications that may be useful as a starting point include:

  • The Diploma in hospitality or (from September 2010) the Diploma in travel and tourism
  • BTEC Level 2 Award in principles of customer service in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism, and Award, National Certificate and National Diploma (NC/ND) in hospitality
  • EDI Level 2 and 3 National Awards in live events and promotion
  • EDI Level 2 Certificate in event planning
  • EDI Level 3 Diploma in event management
  • NCFE Level 2 Certificate in event planning and Level 3 in event management.

For entry to work or training, it is also important to have some experience of organising or helping with events. This can be gained through work experience - for instance as part of a course in events management; or through voluntary experience in organising charity functions, concerts, local festivals or similar events.

A driving licence is an advantage. Knowledge of foreign languages is also useful.

Event organiser is often a second career. Previous experience of working in the travel industry, in hotels, in publishing, in sales and marketing or any role involving customer service is helpful.

Training

There is a wide range of training courses, covering all aspects of the events industry, from sponsorship to crowd safety. Many are run by professional organisations such as the Association for Conferences and Events, the Association of Event Organisers, Eventia (the Events Industry Association) and the Society of Event Organisers.

Event organisers gain skills and knowledge on the job and by working alongside more experienced colleagues.

Getting on

Promotion paths vary, but entrants may start off in a role such as assistant events co-ordinator or organiser. Experience could then lead to a role such as event organiser or co-ordinator. From there it may be possible to progress to event manager. Further progress would be to director level.

It is often necessary to move to a different employer to progress.

Experienced organisers can become self-employed, running their own independent businesses.

There may be job opportunities overseas, especially with international event management companies.

Further information

Association for Conferences and Events, Riverside House, High Street, Huntingdon PE29 3SG. 01480 457595. Website: www.aceinternational.org

Association of British Professional Conference Organisers, Wellington Park, Belfast BT9 6DJ. 028 9038 7475. Website: www.abpco.org

Association of Event Organisers, 119 High Street, Berkhamsted HP4 2DJ. 01442 285810. Website: www.aeo.org.uk

Eventia, 5th Floor, Galbraith House, 141 Great Charles Street, Birmingham B3 3LG. 0121 212 1400. Website: www.eventia.org.uk

Society of Event Organisers (SEO), 29a Market Square, Biggleswade SG18 8AQ. 01767 316255. Website: www.seoevent.co.uk

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

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