My experience of working in the events industry is that it offers a vibrant, gratifying, and fast moving livelihood. Yet an underwhelming observation from my 20 years in events is that too many event creators, pigeonholed as organisers and coordinators, become obsessed with ‘to-do lists’ and gript by the most important job of making sure nothing goes wrong. I write this blog as a challenge to these people, and our industry as a whole, to banish this unnecessarily narrow obsession with operations, and instead embrace a much more adventurous perspective on event creation.
We have seen noteworthy shifts in the business of event creation. Higher attendee expectations, more competition, clients and hosts increasingly demanding returns for their investment, and often the need for outcomes which go beyond economic and include social and environmental. Whichever sector of the events industry we consider these, and other, trends are important and game changing. They combine to represent a step change in the challenge of event creation, undoubtedly making it a much more strategic and multi-layered responsibility.
Consequently I argue for a significant shift in how we approach the discipline of event management. This disproportionately operational outlook is not consistent with the ever more demanding and strategic context of events. We must recognise that the delivery of financial and operational effectiveness is now a precondition, rather than the definition, of success. Event creators must resist the tendency to fixate on the ‘here and now’ and instead pause to ensure they possess a considered appreciation of the ‘why and how’. Intuitively they should begin at the end by envisioning the desired and required outcomes of each event and use this insight as the raison d’être underlying each of their many design decisions.
Rather than quietly grumble I aired my views, aided by like-minded colleagues, in the recently published book Strategic Event Creation. Our key argument is that event creators, at the heart of the action, should embrace an outcome oriented perspective and purposefully design and facilitate events in order to achieve success, whatever that looks like. Crucially success often looks different for clients, or bosses, than it does for attendees, and to complicate matters different again for other involved and impacted stakeholders such as sponsors, communities, and so forth. Little by little the business of triumphant event creation has become more demanding and therefore the book commentates upon a new persona for event creators, which is far removed from the lower-grade identity that too often prevails.
Phil Crowther, Principal Lecturer in Events, Sheffield Hallam University