The Difference between Event Planning and Event Management
If you’re organized, love attention to detail, and always take charge of a situation like the leader you are, you may have a future as an event planner! Now the big question is: are you interested in event planning or event management?
“But wait, aren’t those the exact same thing?”
A lot of people tend to think so, but that’s incorrect. Though both are part of the event planning world, the two are very different fields. While they may have similarities, they also have very specific differences that set them apart.
Those differences come down to you, and what you want in your event planning journey.
What is event planning?
Event planning deals with private and/or social events, such as parties, anniversaries, etc. You’ll work much more closely with your client and be way more hands-on when it comes to the personalized details, like décor and flowers. The events you’ll organize will be particularly special to your client, because the celebration has something to do with her personal life.
Your main goal in event planning is to create the unforgettable event for your client.
What is event management?
An event manager will work in the corporate world, providing event planning services to companies and businesses. Such types of events would typically include: office parties, promotional campaigns/launches, fundraisers, ceremonies, etc. Event management tends to fuss a little less on the creative aspects (like décor) and more on the business side of things, such as promoting the company’s branding and creating networking opportunities.
The main goal in event management is to provide measurable benefits to the corporate client in some way, as a result of having the event.
How else is event planning different from event management?
As an event planner, some of the common perks are:
- You have a lot more wiggle room in your job
- You get more chances to show off your creativity
- The atmosphere is often much more laid back
- Your client will often be more involved in the planning process
- She may even be flexible on things such as deadlines and the budget
On the other hand, event planning has its downsides as well. A rather big one is lack of stability. In event planning, you may sometimes get less work. For example, wedding planners have the “slow season”. Most event planners also tend to work as independent contractors, rather than with a company. If you were to go this route, you’d be paid per job and potentially not have a regular income.
In event management, some of the benefits are:
- The likelihood of having a steady job with the same employer is higher
- This means higher chances to get a normal, recurring paycheck
- Your chances to network with future potential business clients are high
- If you enjoy numbers, corporate event planning often relies on company analytics and measurements as part of the planning process
Of course, it has its limitations, too. Working with a business isn’t the same as working with an individual. A business is a lot more like an entity. It’s less personable. The budget you’re given may be larger to work with, but it won’t be flexible. The atmosphere will often be a lot more formal, and you’ll be expected to be highly professional at all times.
But while event management is more structured than event planning, you’re still able to use your imagination in terms of decorations, creating the theme, etc. It probably wouldn’t give enough creative freedom for those who wish to plan private events – but for someone who likes to be in charge of large projects while still doing things by the book, event management is the dream job.
What do they have in common?
For starters, both require a very specific kind of person to get the job done! You’ve got to be smart, self-disciplined, and detail-oriented. You have to work well under pressure and follow instructions, while also being able to think on your feet. You absolutely need people skills. Neither event planning nor event management are suited for anyone who’s shy or antisocial.
In both jobs, you’re responsible for turning your client’s dreams into reality. It’s up to you to coordinate the fine details and create and the overall experience.
At the heart of it, event planning and event management have the exact same goal: to make sure everything your client wants comes together and goes as planned.
How to launch a career in event management and/or event planning
1. Take classes
There will always be room to learn more and get better – and something that’ll make you stand out from your competition is event planning education. While formal schooling is not required to be an event planner, it absolutely helps and would look great on your resume!
If private events are more up your alley, QC Event School offers multiple different courses to prepare you for a career in event planning. Personally, we recommend the Event and Wedding Planning Course, as it combines everything from the individual classes to give you the most comprehensive training possible.
If you’d prefer to work in the business event field, there are some excellent event management classes at your disposal, too! For instance, QC’s latest foundation program, the Corporate Event Planning Course, will teach you everything you need to know to succeed in event management.
2. Gain experience wherever you can
In the beginning, when trying to build your client base, feel free to offer one or two complimentary event planning services to friends and family! Everyone likes free stuff, so it’ll give you the perfect chance to practice your skills, figure out where you excel, and learn where you can improve.
(Just remember, though: one or two free jobs are fine when you’re brand new, but after that you should start thinking about the rates you intend to charge clients. After all, you’re putting in the hard work, so you should be getting paid for your skills!)
Trying to make a name for yourself in the event management world can be a bit trickier, but there are still tons of ways for you to get noticed. We strongly recommend volunteering for non-profit events, or even finding yourself a mentor in the field who can help guide you along the way.
As you gain experience, don’t forget to gather material from each job (photos, reviews, customer and vendor references, etc.) so you can start putting together a portfolio!
Whether you want to put together your client’s dream wedding, plan the birthday party of the century, or organize the next Fortune 500’s promo bash, there are countless options to choose from when it comes to your career as an event planner. Who’s to say you can’t dip your toe in all of the fields – event planning and event management? With the right experience, training, education, and passion, there’s nothing stopping you from being an event planner “jack of all trades”.
That’s the wonderful thing about event planning: the sky’s the limit!