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Event Management 101

No man (or woman) is an island. This is never more evident than when you’re running point on a large event. You must have a plan you trust and a team you trust. Put just as much care into building your team as you put into planning and you’ll produce a successful and smooth event.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is that an autocratic leadership style while producing a large event is anything but productive. With so many moving parts it’s absolutely impossible for one person to keep tabs on everything from ticketing to VIP experience to what’s actually going on on stage or in the air. Choose two or three aspects that you feel are crucial for you to remain intimately involved in and deligate everything else. And I mean delegate it and let it go. Give your lieutenants the tools they need and allow them to operate with autonomy, but be fully prepared to take the blame if there’s a breakdown. The buck still stops with you, but having trust in your team is critical to producing large events.

The majority of event production is problem solving. Who you place in charge of different aspects of the event doesn’t necessarily need to be the most qualified in terms of work experience, but rather someone who has the ability to assess a situation and do the mental gymnastics to come up with a workable solution on-the-fly. Not to sound like a broken record, but large events are dynamic by nature and it doesn’t matter how well planned out you think you are, situations are going to arise where a decision that affects the experience of numerous attendees has to be made quickly. Having someone in the trenches with the authority and know-how to make that decision is critical.

Create your org chart. As you’re filling each position, take a close look at not just qualifications, but also personalities and how they work with the people surrounding them. It’s much easier when your event has the budget to fill positions with highly-qualified and experienced paid contractors, but it’s another thing entirely when you’re working with a volunteer staff. In my experience, volunteers expect a lot more input from the higher-ups. Make sure they are well briefed and understand they have the authority to make decisions when it becomes necessary.

Here is our framework of positions to be filled for each event:

Management / Admin

  • Chief Executive Officer/Host

  • Chief of Operations

  • Chief Marketing Officer

  • Music Festival Manager

  • Experiential and Sponsors Director

  • Deputy Event Ops Manager

  • Lead Production Manager

  • Venue Operations Support*

Accounting

  • Chief Financial Officer

  • Accounting Manager

Sponsorships and VIP

  • Sponsorship Director

  • Event Sales Lead

  • Partnerships Director

  • Vendor Sales

  • VIP / Experiential Manager

  • VIP Crew*

Public Relations

  • Public Relations Director

  • Media Manager

  • Media Coordinator

  • Local Media Coordinator

Marketing

  • Marketing Director

  • Creative Director

  • Media Buyer

Ticketing

  • Ticketing Director

  • Ticketing Manager

  • Box Office Staff*

Music/Keynotes/Talent

  • Talent Buyer

  • Staging and Production Contractor

  • Production Manager

  • Stage Manager Main Stage

  • Stage Manager Second Stage

  • Stage Manager Third Stage

  • Stage Crew

  • Artist Greeter

  • Hospitality Manager

  • Hospitality Crew

  • Transportation Coordinator

  • Runner*

  • Runner / PA

  • Runner - Crossload

Venue

  • Site Manager

  • Traffic Manager

  • Traffic Engineer

  • Sustainability / Trash Manager

  • Quartermaster

  • Site Ops Crew*

Security & Medical

  • Fire Commander

  • Police Commander

  • Medical Director

  • Security Director

  • Security Guards*

  • Uniformed Off-Duty Police*

Guest Services

  • Staffing/Volunteer Director

  • Volunteers*

(*Number of personnel depends on need/size of event)

Needless to say, not every event necessitates every one of these positions to be filled. Some events need more, but this is our outline. We look at each position and first see if we can fill it internally or ask one of our regular contractors to wear multiple hats depending on workload. Then we see what remains to be filled and look at how we are going to fill them. (Read: paid or volunteer.) Thus begins our team building process.

Your event is only as good as your worst staff member/volunteer. Paying particular attention to who you have in the trenches, treating them with respect and giving them the trust and authority to operate independently are the best investments you can make towards holding a spectacular event.