Professional and luxury services are a sure growth area. Businesses in this sector have unlimited growth potential. Want to know if you have what it takes to capitalize on this gargantuan opportunity? Let’s take a lot the event management business, market and keys to success for event management businesses.
For the most part, this article will speak to private event management however the principles are applicable to events of public nature which involve attracting customers who pay to attend or participate in the events.

The market

The opportunities in event management are many. Possible engagements include parties, festivals, weddings, corporate functions and all sorts of celebrations. Wherever people gather there’s an opportunity for you to offer your services to the owners of the occasion to make their event easier and/or better. While there is no shortage of events the events obviously vary in size and budget and therefore the ability to pay you for the event.

Still looking at the market there are various methods of pricing used. There are options of a cost plus mark up approach or a straight fee approach. The choice will also be informed by whether or not you have all the equipment, some of it or none and therefore completely outsource. Cost plus, while controversial, very much in use this is where one simply applies a mark up to the cost of the engagement. A straight fee approach simply puts forward a fee for handling the entire engagement meeting costs associated out of that fee. If it is an open event with paying attendees agreements can be made to share in gate takings or bar receipts. Understand the client and the engagement are very important here.


There are many different approaches to equipping an event management business. It is possible to run an event management business without so much as a single piece of equipment. You do not necessarily need to own any as there are entire businesses set up for the hiring out of event-related equipment. Anything from bars to braai stands can be outsourced.

Some, because of their niche may choose to own certain equipment because it is central to their business but perhaps not easy or economical to hire. A business that specializes in Children’s parties may find owning a candy floss machine to be a strategic move. Some with deeper pockets may choose to have all the equipment. This has the advantage of lowering operating costs as all equipment is already owned but the disadvantage of tying up money in equipment that may go unutilized for long spells. The money you could otherwise put towards advertising.


Your staffing will be determined by many factors, affordability will be the chief consideration. It is unlikely that you would need a lot of full-time staff early on in the business. When it comes to running the actual events you will likely use outsourced or part-time staff. There are two key roles you will need to fill in your business from the outset. A negotiator and an organizer. These roles can be filled by the same person.
The business largely relies on relationships and a negotiator is essential. To create relationships, negotiate terms and even persuade the prospect. The organizer role is required to keep the plan working. Plans are based on certain assumptions and the manager’s job is to make sure the plan works. This requires a person who is good at organizing both things and people.


It’s a good idea to be able to tell people about your business and what it offers. It’s a great idea to be able to show them. The difficulty in this business is what you’re offering will only be accessible in the future, at the date and time of the event. You need the prospect to make a commitment prior to this so you need the ability to influence them. Having online platforms to show your exploits is a good start. The key is to have high-quality, well-taken images and video to showcase, this is easier said than done. A bespoke website supported by social media is the way to go in this regard. Depending on how your business is set up you may also be able to show live examples of what can be expected from you. What is important is the ability to convince that you can deliver.

Keys to success


Creativity is the name of the game. Your job is to bring visions and dreams to life for your clients. As such you require a team that can think creatively and also understand client expectations. This may also involve being able to understand when a client is saying one thing but means another.
This will also likely involve trend consciousness and an understanding of popular culture beyond your own interests as clientele may vary widely on this aspect. A 16th birthday would certainly need different references compared to a 25th Wedding anniversary. Resources such as Pinterest will do you a world of good.


Event management engagements tend to be charged outright with either a per head or per engagement fee. In light of these two elements of budgeting are very important; costing and control. Firstly from a costing perspective, you need to be able to bill appropriately; this will involve calculating all costs associated with an engagement appropriately. This may prove difficult as Murphy law tells us if something can go wrong it will go wrong. Costing for future events is very difficult because a lot is unknown. After costing one must price appropriately to recover costs plus time and earn a profit over and above that. Care must be taken not to over price.


A single event manager rarely ever owns or houses all the services they offer. Matter of fact it’s common in this business to own very little in the way of equipment and simply outsource all that may be required. As a result, relationships are key, perhaps the single key to the event management business. In Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi presents a rule for networking; build it before you need it. This definitely applies to this business. Your access to service providers comes down to how well you network. Relationships up, down and across the value need not only be present but very strong.


While it seems like the most obvious thing it still needs to be said. Your job is basically planning on a grand scale and that includes contingency plans. Planning, critical thinking and people management skills all fall under this here. As we saw earlier you are likely to be working with various different people and support staff from different backgrounds. Your ability to create plans that comfortably encompass all people and consider the needs of everyone involved is paramount. A luncheon may require food to be served at 1 pm but what time does the cooking start for a 1 pm service time? That’s an example of some the type of things you’ll have to deal with but not in isolation. The florists will need to put up flowers, chairs must be arranged, ushers must be given a briefing, the band or DJ must do a soundcheck, the backup generator tested and fuel readied and so much more.

Intense customer focus

The customer is king. Nowhere does that saying ring truer than in the event management business. You need to develop intense customer focus. While we spoke about this already it’s important to note that customer focus goes above and beyond providing what they say they need. Capturing their vision and delivering an end product your prospect was afraid to ask for is a sure way to get a great customer review. Your focus must be delicately balanced giving the client as much peace of mind as is possible before, during and after the engagement. You need to be comfortable with constantly communicating with clients and giving them progress reports to put their hearts at ease. This role requires a high degree of emotional intelligence.