Event management: Grad student's research yields fascinating insights
The following is a guest blog article by grad student/event planner Carolyn Ray. If you are interested in guest blogging for Sound n' Sight, please read my guest blogging guidelines . And if you have any thoughts, please comment. Carolyn and I both would love to hear what you have to say!
It’s no secret that I have a passion for events. I’ve told the story of how I was bitten by the event bug, at age three, at least a zillion times. But, when I set out on the journey towards my Master’s degree in Communication Management at the University of Southern California, I was determined to take my love and turn it into something practical.
I wanted to give myself a shot at investigating the world of events from an academic perspective, to learn about the things I was really interested in but never had the chance to explore. So when it came time to pick my thesis topic, the title popped into my head almost immediately - Making Dreams a Reality: An Insight Into Event Management and Conceptualization.
Based on academic research and a survey of more than 100 event planners in North America and abroad my project looked at three key areas: 1) The Process of Conceptualization, 2) Industry Standards and Education and 3) How Planners Feel About the Conceptualization Process.
The Process of Conceptualization
What I learned:
- There is no single “BEST” way to conceptualize an event. There are some similarities across the planning processes but very few planners take exactly the same approach. This is likely due to a lack of consistent education or industry standards.
- The top three considerations in event planning were: “budget,” (26%) “venue/location setting” (13%) and “handling client needs” and “vision/concept” which tied with 11% respectively.
Industry Standards and Education
What I learned:
- A shocking number of planners (62.7%) were unfamiliar with two MAJOR event industry initiatives CIC’s APEX (Convention Industry Council’s Accepted Practices Exchange) and EMBOK (Event Management Body of Knowledge).
- 36% of planners claimed to have no formal event education leading to certification and 33% had no formal event education whatsoever!
How Planners Feel About the Conceptualization Process
What I learned:
- 23% of planners indicated that their biggest difficulty in event conceptualization was “managing the budget;” this was more than twice the second most indicated difficulty of “communication” at 10%
- “Using Creativity” was the most enjoyed aspect of the planning process (a rating of 4.74 on a scale of 5) while “Managing the Budget” was the least enjoyed task (a rating of 3.45 on a scale of 5)
- Of the 16 elements in the planning process none of the tasks earned an overall rating below 3 (indicating neutral). Looks like planners love what they do :)
What Does It All Mean?
From this research I have made a few key recommendations:
1) Due to the wide range of knowledge required for planning an event there should be some regulated way of effectively training individuals in both general and specific usable strategies and techniques for the industry.
2) A non-profit consortium of certifying bodies should be created to provide a base line of foundational knowledge to new and veteran planners. In addition, this consortium would ensure that all planners adhered to an oath, a comprehensive ethical code and a dedication to continuous learning and growth
3) Research must be conducted about what aspect of budget is causing difficulty and train planners to comfortably and effectively deal with budgets.
4) Create a stronger awareness campaign surrounding industry initiatives (such as EMBOK and APEX)
5) Provide a welcoming environment for planners to interact, ask questions and further their education.
Some Interesting Reads:
Getz, D. (2007). Event studies: Theory, research and policy for planned events. Burlington, MA: Elsevier.
US Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2009). Meeting and convention planners. In Occupational outlook handbook. http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos298.htm
Just before Carolyn’s third birthday, her mother bought her a copy of Meredith Brokaw’s Penny Whistle Party Planner. Little did she know that this book would be the beginning of an ever-growing passion for all things event related. Twenty-some years later, she has worked on a wide range of events from parties to fundraisers to weddings and everything in between and loves every minute. As an "enthusiastic event planner who is passionate about great customer service and a lover of all things communication and leadership based" the event industry is the perfect arena for her to share her creative energy. For Carolyn, every event is a special experience, an opportunity to learn and a chance to make dreams come true.If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed for Sound n' Sight.
Please feel free to reach out to Carolyn at Carolynray15@hotmail.com with any questions or for a full copy of her project.