Event management offers a glamorous avenue to make a successful and exciting career that helps you tap into your creative potential, providing you with the perfect platform to launch your idea with panache. For those who have the entrepreneurial spirit an
Splendid set ups, gracious guests, warm reception and everything to perfection at grand events like ‘Filmfare’ or the ‘Miss India Contest’ or the likes of them leave us amazed especially when we know that it’s all live and there is no scope for a retake. The realisation of the fact, that a small malfunctioning as we have witnessed in some of the fashion shows can play havoc, makes the people who are behind them, all the more important. Yes, it’s the people behind the scene who control the strings and assure the success of an event.
A few years back no one in India would have bothered about something called ‘event management’ and there were sufficient reasons for it. People had limited work, precise needs, very little to think beyond happy meals and daily chores and when it came to celebration time, they used to manage it on their own as that used to be their rare occasion of having some action in their life. Remember the village ladies joining in a month before to lend help for sifting pulses, rice or barley to prepare for the grand feast? Compare it with the present day when man is so busy that sparing a single day to attend the wedding of even a close friend has become a challenge, forget about helping buddies. Now, that’s where event management companies come in.
Opportunity at your doorstep
The over busy schedules of not only the upper strata of society but also the burgeoning middle class, render them with very little time to make arrangements for special occasions that consume lots of time and require meticulous planning. On the other hand, show biz today is in such a boom that whether it is a family function, a farewell or a product launch, leave aside a music concert or a fashion show-everything has to be grand. So, events could range from concerts, fashion shows, press conferences, star nights, product launches, annual day celebrations, promotions, jubilee celebrations and television based events to farewells, wedding or parties.
Before starting an event management company it is a must to do the ground work well. Research may mean making sure there's a demand for the types of events you can manage in your neighbouring areas (which can act as your launching pad) by conducting surveys, interviews or discussions. A beginner needs a thorough research plan to locate vendors and suppliers who can provide the best services (catering, printing, transportation tent, lighting, sound, performers, stage, etc.) at the minimum possible cost. It would be helpful if you consult a few other event planners to familiarise yourself with the basic know- how of the trade. You may read a few good books to learn more about the variations in the etiquettes and customs in relation to various types of events. It would be a good idea to arrange a few events at your office or home to gather public response.
Start up essentials
Personal party or wedding experiences or those viewed on screen clubbed with your creativity and imagination, besides an understanding of the importance of your role are the perfect combo required to start an event management company. Dharmendra Arora, Head Operations, Empower Events believes, “One has to be passionate about every single detail in the event business. Besides that, a sharp focus on quality and an unparallel stress on customer service are the prime requisites to be an event manager.”
Broadly, events can be personal, social or corporate. While planning an event one needs to be careful that it should be able to convey the motive with which it has been conducted. A corporate event should reflect the ethics of the company and also the status of your client. Since it’s not only his reputation which is at stake but yours too, you have to be doubly sure of your arrangements.
On the other hand, a family function or a wedding should display the culture and customs of your client. Everything-right from invites, stage, food, décor to music should be customised. Variety is a surely must, but you should be able to understand what to highlight. A Punjabi wedding would sound dull without Bhangra. Similarly bland food wouldn’t gel with the taste of these spice lovers. You should not forget that food and folk bring along with them a flavour of the culture.
Likewise, a farewell party must incorporate elements of the joy of moving to the next level along with the pathos of separation. You need to understand that event management is not only about managing something par excellence but it also means managing things in a manner that conveys the intention in the right way.
A degree from the National Institute of Event Management (NIEM) or the likes of it can certainly prove helpful, but a few other accomplishments can fairly justify your entry into this domain even without lofty degrees. Event management requires rigorous hard work, careful planning, patience, lots of contacts, excellent communication skills, foresightedness and strong vigilance besides creativity and managerial skills. However, what Lalita Raghav, GM, Event & Wedding Planning, Ferns ‘N’ Petals finds most central to starting an event management company is experience in related fields. Even a hands-on experience in event management, catering, HR or media can serve well. Ankur Kapoor, Director Operations, Dolphin Media Promotions, began his career as a promoter in 2001 after completing his B Com. Kapoor used to hire boys and girls to carry road shows for various brands. Gaining experience thereby, he established his own company in 2005 which has MTV Roadies and ICL among others in its client list. Kapoor believes, “No fancy degree is required to start an event management company. It’s your contacts that matter the most.” He further adds, “The two most important things in event management are your clients and the way you handle the budget.” Event management requires excellent convincing power not only to win new clients but also to deal with the existing ones. Fanning his passion to organise events, Rohit Anand, Proprietor, Entertainment Factory passion arranged many events during school and college too. After working as an HR and an Event Manager on part time basis for two event management companies, Anand’s entrepreneurial spirit compelled him to start his own company in 2007, at the age of 23.
Investment & staff
The biggest advantage of starting an event management company is the option to start with anything or everything. Gurjot Singh, Director, The Big Showz, a Chandigarh based event management company started his business with three employees and an initial investment of Rs 25, 000. You can also shell out lakhs or crores, having everything in-house or depending on the scale of the event in hand, if your pocket allows.
Raghav advises, “It is one industry where the investment is very low and the returns are very quick. All I can say is that you really need to keep your head on your shoulders and be ready to put in long stressful working hours, day after day.” Initially, you can outsource everything right from catering, décor and lighting to logistics and transportation. You can even begin from home with a staff consisting of a junior-planner, a bookkeeper and two employees to carry on the sales and marketing tasks. Raghav feels, “One definitely has to take into consideration that the corporate segment generally works on credit and hence most investments required for an event are to be borne by the organising company whereas in social events, the payments are generally cleared on the day of the event itself. One can easily take off with an initial investment of Rs 4-5 lakh including infrastructure and salaries of the staff.”
Areas of involvement
The work of the event manager starts with designing the basic framework of the event in accordance with the requirements of the client. The event planner puts his proposal before the client along with an estimate of the expenditure. At times the client himself finalises the site for the event and at other times the site is finalised by the event planner. Once the site is finalised, the planner prepares the marketing plans, hunts for sponsors, works on the logistics, coordinates with the vendors, hires performers, sends invites, creates menus, looks after the stage, lights, seating plan, books the performers and arranges for transport for different people. Arora feels, “An event manager has to see things from a macro perspective yet has to foresee even the most minor occurrences that could take place during the course of the event. An event manager’s participation is basically like an insurance against any mishaps in the event. This requires the event manager to use his skills, expertise and experience in ensuring that all aspects of the event are well-planned, fool-proof and executed as planned.”
On the day of the event, he coordinates every aspect of the event, making sure that the event runs smoothly and as per schedule. Work for an event begins long before the event; however, the actual length of time depends on the magnitude of the event. Sometimes, large event management companies take on services of smaller companies on a contract basis to make their work easier. At times, the client himself hires two or more event management companies to carry different tasks.
While talking of the legal formalities involved in setting up an event management company, Raghav says, “There are not many legal formalities involved in starting an event management company. All the formalities of registration for sales tax, service tax, etc. are the same as in any other business.” However, for carrying out an event at an outside venue, you need certain authorisations from the local bodies. In a place like Chandigarh one needs 6-7 authorisations whereas the number can go up to some 21 authorisations in Delhi. Some essential authorisations include a permit from the Municipal Corporation (for putting up advertisements), the Superintendent of Police (security), the SDM (law and order) and a no objection certificate from the DC office. Ketan Lotia, Founder, Miracle Magic says, “Various regulations especially concerning live performances, animal shows, road shows, etc. are necessary keeping in mind law and order and the safety of the performing animals, the spectators and the clients.”
The fact that starting an event management company will give you the opportunity to rub shoulders with the who’s who of the industry or that the industry has the potential to grow, is no sufficient reason to start off. As an event manager, one comes across many such situations on a regular basis wherein he has to deal with local authorities like the Police or excise department or entertainment department etc. More often than not, events run into the late hours of the night and loud music is generally not permitted beyond 10:30 pm. To overcome these difficulties one should make sure that the required legal permissions for carrying out an event are in order and in addition, one needs to have a very good rapport with the local authorities to ensure smooth operations.
Apart from this, Anand believes, “It’s very important to have an efficient sound system in place as the absence of it can ruin the whole charm of the event.” While talking of how he handled a critical situation when during a wedding, part of the roof came down due to heavy electrical equipment, Anand says, “We started the performance part which was to be done later in the adjacent hall. By engaging the guests in dancing, we bought time to fix the problem.”
Marketing is a must for even the best of the products to be acknowledged and a start-up requires it all the more but it’s not wise to spend huge amounts on marketing. You can begin with sending mails to your friends and relatives, distribute pamphlets and place advertisements in a popular daily. Organising an event in a school or college or some charitable institute on subsidised rates could also help in gathering mass attention. No marketing is more forceful than word of mouth- introduce yourself as an event planner and carry your business cards wherever you go; you never know which street is going to introduce you to your next client.
Once you have organised a few events, your work becomes the most effective marketing tool to popularise your service. This is the ideal time to create your website, as you now have a few success stories to count and some clients on the cards to attract new clients. Arora after working in the event division of a publishing house started his own event management company in 2004. Talking of his marketing strategies that initially helped him in making contacts Arora says, “We made personalised presentations of our capabilities to a few top corporates and offered them state-of-the-art, innovative event ideas which got us the initial base of clients required. From then on, repeat orders and reference orders have been our mainstay.” Prestigious projects like organising social events and wedding for Jindals, Safe Express Pvt. Ltd and many more, added other biggies like Reliance Industries, Hero Honda, Zee group, Nokia, etc. to Ferns ‘N’ Petals’ client list.
According to FICCI – PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Event Management Industry was estimated at Rs 800 crore in 2006 and is expected to grow at the rate of 18 per cent to become a Rs 1800 crore industry by 2010. The event management industry in India is steadily evolving owing to the growing number of corporate awards, television, fund raising and sports events. Besides that, with rising incomes and busy schedules, people have started spending more on wedding, parties and other personal functions too. Talking about the future of the event management industry, Anand continues in a light vein, “Well, I wish that everyone gets busy in their own work and in prospering themselves as well as the event management companies, because if they get busy they will pass on their events to us to organise.”
It’s an industry where your links play a vital role in your take off. With little funds and just a few employees besides some relevant experience, one can begin by outsourcing all the essentials. Eventually you start having high returns which can further help you in having everything in-house as most of the companies actually do. However, Indians being excellent hosts from time immemorial, carry event management skills in their genes. It’s nothing new to us, though an orientation of skills, innovation and dazzling presentation added on provide the perfect ground for planning an event. So, if you have the entrepreneurial drive and desire to take a plunge into the scintillating world you had been wondering at, event management is the industry for you.