Both profit and nonprofit organizations are increasingly using special events as a communication and marketing tool to enhance brand awareness, create new business opportunities, promote specific products and services, attract new sponsors, drive continual growth, ensure client loyalty, and improve staff engagement. In the context of project management, a special event can be defined as a temporary and unique cultural, business or sporting activity with a precisely defined scope, schedule and resources applied to accomplish a specific set of goals. Event management, also referred to as event planning, is the systematic, adaptable and practical application of project management methods, tools and techniques to the design, planning and execution of special events. Just like other complex projects, special events have to be expertly managed to engage key stakeholders, ensure flawless coordination and achieve intended goals by creating memorable audience experiences. Producing a special event, whether it be a fundraising gala, conference, symposium, seminar, corporate strategic retreat, convention, dance show or any other event, require passion for excellence, effective communication, attention to detail, resourcefulness, and collaborative problem solving approach.
While no two events are identical, using a common set of interdependent event management processes provides the robust structure needed to set event objectives, identify, assess and respond to major risks, determine critical path, optimize the use of available resources, and deliver results on time and within budget. Applicable to any type of special event, these overlapping, incremental and iterative processes include: Conceptualize, Design, Plan, Coordinate, Execute, Monitor, Control, Evaluate, and Close. Depending on specific circumstances, event management processes with associated tools and techniques may be applied with the varying degree of rigor and still achieve intended outcomes. If the special event is large, resource–intensive and complex, then event management processes should be diligently followed to eliminate or reduce uncertainty while remaining flexible to accommodate changing priorities. The work involved in organizing a major event is often sufficiently significant to require the direct or indirect involvement of a large number of people with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The event organizational structure and lines of authority need to be designed to fit the ultimate purpose, timing and scope of the event.
Creating a compelling event vision, forming a high performance project team, defining both tangible and intangible objectives, identifying target audience, determining timing and cost requirements, developing a written project plan, selecting an appropriate venue, and designing the event experience are some of the basic elements of a successful special event. There are many event management elements that must also be taken into consideration in order to ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, manage the flow of the event, and create unifying emotional moments that inspire, engage and connect people while simultaneously generating a return on investment. It is important to manage stakeholder expectations, maintain accurate and reliable metrics, manage resource allocation, and articulate, integrate and synchronize a wide range of planning, monitoring and control activities. Changes to the defined event scope, budget and schedule can happen for a number of reasons. Therefore, it is essential to establish a robust change control process, create performance measurement baseline and proactively influence the factors that can trigger change.