In a recent Marketing Round Table at WE School, a noted management institute in Mumbai, this was a comment made by a panel member while discussing a student presentation. The topic of the programme was ‘Gen Nxt Markets’ which was a very interesting title to open up minds. After all, a possibility today opens up and becomes a reality for tomorrow. Needless to say, almost all concepts shared that evening inevitably had extensive use of internet and technology led applications aimed to refine life in the coming years.
One such concept actually caught my attention for a very wrong reason. It was a portal which was aimed at becoming an online market place for material meant for small parties and family events. So this will have a data base of sellers for merchandise, bakers, emcee and entertainment options etc. All a person needs to do is get in touch with these people who the website will certify for genuineness of pricing and value. All in all this looked like just another section under a Just Dial or Sulekha kind of online classifieds with practically nothing different as the monetization model .
But for necessity to be the mother of this invention; Event Managers and agencies overcharge and have their commissions as a part of the entire deal. While this argument was to support why their idea had meat, it digressed to why event managers charge as much as they do. It later precipitated towards- who even needs them? A topic which was looking like a ‘yawn’ moment suddenly turned into a direct attack towards my belly n livelihood.
But seriously; who needs the Event Manager? Weddings, birthdays, customer and dealer meets for corporates, music concerts and sporting events have all been happening for centuries with no mention of an event manager ever. So why in the last 25 odd years a new breed named event managers come up amongst us to do things we already did for such a long time?
Event managers have existed as a part of every big ‘n small event we have seen or heard of since the beginning of time. It was the minister who organized a king’s coronation or our uncles and aunts who ran pillar to post in weddings and ceremonies coordinating with the decorator and the caterer. It either came in as a part of the job or a relative who took the responsibility out of choice to ensure a smooth and seamless execution. While the subordinates usually don’t have a choice; it can be an obligation for the relative who may tend to miss out on important ceremonies while running behind responsibilities.
The main reason for the very existence of Event Managers as a professional outfit today is the fact that people do not have time and do not want obligations. Dual income parents desire a birthday party for their child with all the bells and whistles, but who has the time to plan the same. How often are they in mood to go and shop for putting together a goody bag or negotiate with an emcee or a banquet space? Besides, who wishes to take on obligations within a family structure already under strain as they going nuclear?
Event managers are designed to be specialists in planning, coordination and negotiation- in desi terms; a ‘maha-jugaadu’. They become a single point contact; much like a walking-talking classifieds, which can even deliver a journey to Mars if demanded. But apart from this, they also need to be firefighters towards handling every 11th hour emergency which might arise, with “not possible” and “can’t be done” as unacceptable answers. Customers have zero tolerance to any lapses from their end and it actually takes about 10-15 days for anyone to plan and execute a spotless event.
Take for instance an event as small as a birthday party for a 1 year old kid. Even for this seemingly petty occasion, they have to manage the venue, décor, food, cake, emcee, music, games, and prizes, return gifts etc. as the visible elements keeping in mind a wide array of people who will come for this event. The invisible part is locating a venue which is friendly for children as well as the aged, facilities for both the groups, ample parking space and even basic medical kits for eventualities. In the background, he has negotiated and sourced all the party material, planned how it all comes up as a unified flow along with the statutory permissions for playing music at a public place.
And toward all this, he might get paid at max 15% as commission by the organiser- meaning he earns 15K when a party costs 1 lac. I don’t see which professional will work at such pay scales and deliver flawless on expectations. And it is the very same reason why I don’t feel they need to be charging as per a rate card or MRP assigned by any 3rd person- the biggest reason why I took on the panel against this proposed portal.
So coming back to the main point of contention- who needs an Event Manager? Honestly, if you have the time and skill to organize and execute any event on your own, you really don’t need one. I don’t think an event agency will even try to find themselves a role if they actually are not adding value.
And if you wish to know why we hire event manager- it’s simply either of these reasons: lack of time, lack of organising and planning skills, don’t wish to get into unwanted hassles of coordination, don’t wanna do the thankless job or more commonly- let’s get a scrape goat to put the blame on when things go wrong.