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9 Qualities of a Great Event Manager

By Caroline Cox | 5 min read

If you asked an event manager to describe what “a typical day” looks like for them, you’d likely get one of two answers. They may spend several minutes laying out a laundry list of duties: meeting with chefs, hosting venue walkthroughs, replacing light bulbs, sending out proposals, and everything in between. Or, they may declare that there simply is no such thing as a typical day.

That’s because there is virtually an endless number of hats an event manager must wear at any given time. In this role, you’re often tasked with keeping a venue’s events program running while simultaneously handling new business and making sure your internal team is happy and productive. Moreover, you’re probably busier than ever. Studies show 45% of event planners report that they have more clients than 12 months ago.

gather - event manager blog

To find out more about the qualities of great event managers, we chatted with two California-based industry pros: Lauren Gilbert of Gracias Madre in West Hollywood, and April Baserga of Slo Brew in San Luis Obispo. Read on to see what they had to say.

Get comfortable delegating

Try as you might, it’s hard to be a one-stop event shop by yourself. That’s why it’s crucial to assemble a competent team, then start delegating tasks to them. “Being a team leader means being able to delegate,” explains Lauren. “You have to know your own strengths, and know you can’t be everywhere all at once.”

She adds that, if you can properly train your team to be efficient and effective, you can more easily ensure everyone is set up for success. Not sure someone’s up to the challenge? Start off new team members with low-stakes or outside-the-box tasks, and see how they measure up.

Know your venue’s strengths — and limitations

As an event manager, one of the last things you want to do is pressure someone into booking your venue when it may not be a good fit. This sets both you and the client up for a difficult interaction that risks leaving your potential guest with a negative experience.

That’s why Lauren says it’s crucial to know your venue’s strengths and limitations. “Sell and promote the things that make your venue unique and the things your team excels at,” she says. And April agrees: “You don’t want to force a client into something if they don’t really want what you’re selling.”

Try to stay 10 steps ahead

You know expecting the unexpected is the name of the game when it comes to event management. One way to keep surprises (like a last-minute guest count change or menu update) from becoming full-on event disasters is by being prepared. This means having backup plans in place to accommodate whatever may come up. It’ll also provide you, your staff members, and your client with peace of mind.

This could mean reserving an interior area as a backup venue in case inclement weather takes an outdoor soiree out of the question. It could mean having the kitchen prepared to whip up a few extra meals on the day of the event. Or it could mean double-checking all event details with the client a few days beforehand.

Prioritize relationships

Gracias Madre
Gracias Madre

You may think leads are the bread and butter of an events program. But without forming good relationships with both your clients and team members, you may begin losing out to the competition.

It’s wise to keep in mind that having a staff that’s unhappy or not communicating properly can have a negative effect on your events. “If you don’t treat your internal clients, chefs, and operations teams like gold,” April says you risk underdelivering on what a customer was promised.

However, good client communication that results in a positive, memorable experience at your space means that a person is more likely to recommend it — and return. “I suggest inviting potential clients in for lunch to discuss hosting an event at your venue,” says Lauren. “And keep in touch throughout the year with potential and former clients,” so you stay top of mind.

Want more tips on being an effective event manager? Check out our guide.

Tackle challenges head-on

Those unexpected event hiccups we just mentioned? Not only is the event manager often the one tasked with solving these problems, but they also have to make sure the event process keeps running smoothly. That’s why Lauren says you have to “be able to creatively and calmly handle challenges because even perfectly planned events have unexpected situations that can arise.”

It makes sense: if you freak out, your team and — even worse — your client may freak out as well. Even if chaos is happening behind the scenes (spoiler alert: it often is), it’s an event manager’s job to keep that from the client and guests.

Establish standard system processes

Your events team can run like a well-oiled machine — until something happens. But you can’t halt your events program because someone gets sick, goes on vacation, or quits unexpectedly. One way to remedy this? “Standardize systems so your event staff is familiar and proficient with event procedures,” recommends Lauren.

It’s beneficial for everyone on the events team to know how the major systems work (like Gather, for example). Even better: event managers with the bandwidth can hold monthly or quarterly training sessions. This helps make sure everyone is familiar with each platform, feels comfortable on it, and gets to ask any questions they may have.

Become a brand expert

Slo Brew
Slo Brew

The more familiar you are with your company’s brand, the easier it’ll be to sell it to the right prospects. “I would advise new event managers to make sure they have a deep understanding of their brand’s ethos,” says April.

“When you understand what your brand stands for and the clients your brand wants, it’ll help you finetune the business you dedicate so much time and commitment to.” It’s ideal for an event manager to know all the ins and outs of the space they’re working — from food and spirits options to the square footage. Bonus points if your team knows these things like the back of their hands too.

Always be pursuing new business

One thing April strongly advises event managers against is resting on your laurels when it comes to leads. “You’ve got to make time for prospecting,” she says. “We get a lot of leads, but if you’re not working to attract new event clients and chase lost business, you’re not going to get it.”

At the start of the new year, April went through Slo Brew’s lost holiday party business. She called those prospects who didn’t end up booking her space to see how their parties (if they ended up booking elsewhere) went. “Even if they don’t want to book with us next year, I learn why they went with another venue,” she explains. Making time for lost business can potentially turn that business into revenue dollars in the future.

Don’t lose your passion

Slo Brew
Slo Brew

As in most job roles, not every day will go as well as planned, and some things will be out of your control. But, for event managers looking to be in their positions for the long haul, remembering why you started in this business can help you see the bigger picture beyond the day-to-day duties.

“We work in such a fun industry,” says April. “Being humble, having fun, and remembering that we have the opportunity to impact people’s experiences in a creative and cool way is an awesome position to be in.”

 

Now that you know what makes a great event manager, see how Gather can level up your events program by requesting a live tour.

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Caroline Cox
Content Marketing Manager

Caroline Cox is Gather's Content Marketing Manager. She spends her time crafting blogs, thought leadership pieces, case studies, social media content and more, helping empower restaurants and other event venues to streamline their planning process and grow their events programs with success.

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