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Event Management: A multi-crore-rupee opportunity

Adhitya Suvarna | June 24, 2003

'They were extremely professional and, like talented chefs, they used the ingredients we wanted, added the ingredients we needed, and put them together to make an exceptional event that was -- to cap it all -- fun to put together.' -- A director of a company, talking about an event management firm.

Event Management is a booming sectorFormerly sequestered in advertisement, mass media or public relations, 'event management' is catching the attention of companies and graduates alike.

It does not have a textbook definition and to try and define it would mean to borrow heavily from mainstream management and media concepts.

It usually consists of conceptualization, planning, budgeting, and execution of below-the-line activities such as exhibitions, stage shows, fashion or rock shows, music concerts, celebrity appearances, fashion or charity shows, conferences, weddings, product or brand launches, and sports shows to name few.

"Events begin where the glamour ends," Brian Tellis, director of Fountainhead, an event management company. "EM is the most intimate form of marketing. It is a controlled activity aimed at the target audience."

According to him, events have always been there. Any form of event management as a profession was mostly meeting, organising and project planning.

"Today it is much more professional and more organized a sector than, say, a decade ago. Event management started the moment multinationals started pouring in when our markets liberalised in the 80s," says Tellis.

Kunal Bhandula, director of Opus Planet, says it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when event management broke away from mainstream course and started carving a niche for itself in the industry.

"I think it was around 1996 that it rapidly gained importance as a professionally managed niche of marketing," he says.

Reaching out to customers more intimately

"Companies realise that through events they can reach out to customers more closely, more intimately and it is cheaper than mainstream or conventional forms of communication, say television or print," Kunal said.

Tellis calls it 'experiential marketing', or niche marketing, where the environment is controlled to suit the needs of the product or the show being showcased and the output being far tangible that that of the conventional media.

An event is a niche communication medium that allows companies to reach their target audience directly with tangible outcomes, which are not possible through conventional forms of advertisement.

"Through events, we can select and reach out directly to our target audience, we can control our budgets and at the end of the event tangibly analyse if the event was a success or not," says Tellis.

"This is quite difficult, say, in mainstream communications, where the results are intangible and we are not sure who is seeing it and whom the communication reaches out to."

Providing a plethora of services

Companies approach event managers with a vague idea and a budget in mind. It is then entirely up to the event manager to develop and improvise and turn the idea into a success.

Once the idea and the budget are settled, event managers begin coordinating with sponsors and performers, arranging travel, security, and accommodation for the stars if there is a show.

They also have to supervise ticket and stage design, arrange music, sound and lights, and look into those numerous details that go into making an event successful.

Security is another big issue that is dealt with by event managers. In India, shows usually have to end before midnight at the latest, even earlier in some places.

Event managers have to ensure that events conclude on time, and in case they stretch beyond the permitted hours, they have to handle the police and the local bureaucracy.

Bad security could ruin an otherwise well-organised event. Unwanted guests, stampedes, fights, and harassment of performers are a few things event managers have to tackle during public events.

Event management spells big money

But what are the numbers that is making the industry sit up and take notice?

"We are talking about Rs 3,300 crore (Rs 33 billion) only this year," Tellis said. "Companies are focusing more and more into events, as the returns are more specified than elsewhere. With a tightly packed competitive environment, nothing like events to give boost and not weigh on the purse either."

Live entertainment is also another factor for the increase in events and the moolah that they rake in. Television channels are looking towards programmes based on live events like awards shows, pageants, rock shows, musical programmes based on Bollywood churn-outs, et cetera, to boost their ratings and increase as spends.

The event management industry is expected to grow at an astounding rate of 30  per cent per annum over the next five years.

"I am sure it will reach Rs 11,600 crore (Rs 116 billion) in 2006," says Tellis.

Segments like music, culture, sports, fashion shows, Bollywood-based shows and award ceremonies are emerging as the main growth drivers in the sector.

"Sports management is not very well known in India. Cricket being the dominant sport, event management usually centers around it," says Rehan Shaik, group consultant in Advent, a Lintas event management company.

He says event management in sports is usually long term and something, which companies in India do not understand, and even if they are interested it is usually related to cricket. "For example, Castrol withdrew its support to the Indian Hockey Federation," he said.

So are there any courses for EM?

He believes that with new and more professional approach to event management, more students will take up sports management.

In Mumbai, event management is offered as a one-year part time diploma for undergraduates and post-graduate diploma for graduates. The classes are held in the evenings.

Three institutes provide specialised training in event management, two of which have branches in other cities as well.

One-year-old and growing is the Bandra-based Event Management Development Institute, situated in the IES Management College building in Bandra, northwest Mumbai and has branches in Pune, Kochi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Coimbatore.

"EMDI aspires to deliver quality knowledge to candidates ion the intricacies of event management. We researched extensively for a year before we launched the institute," says Nowshir Engineer, joint director of the institute.

"Students are selected based on their performance on written tests and interview. We try to ensure that only those who are really keen on the field are selected and not in it for the glamour," he says.

But isn't glamour part of the reason why events are so exciting? "Its one of the biggest problem we face. Half the time we spend trying to tell people that the glamour is what the audience sees as a final product. Event management is 99 per cent hard work," says Jimmy Nagdev, joint director at EMDI.

Tellis and Kunal also agree. "I like to tell the young guys out there who are aspiring for this field that if you think its all glamour and glitz and you will be partying all the time, then better forget getting into event management," says Tellis, who is part of the academic council in EMDI.

"One has to remember that to become a successful event manager, you may need to put in 365 days a year without even a Sunday off," says Kunal, grinning broadly.

"The candidate should have commitment and should be interested in the field," says Engineer, joint director of the Event Management Development Institute. "It's not like a time-pass course. The person should be very serious and mentally prepared to withstand the pressures involved."

National Institute of Event Management is four years now and it's founder, Professor Hoshi Bhiwandiwalla, says it was the first to start offering event management as a separate course and a career option.

"I got the idea to start a course in event management because India has vast pool of talent and knowledge to conduct events," he says. "There is so much resource and demand in the market for events. Foreign courses existed, but there remained the gap between our culture and foreign culture."

He said the foreign syllabus had to be modified to include Indian culture, bureaucracy, mentality and the huge need to create awareness of event management as a career of its own. It has branches in Pune, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Delhi.

NIEM also selects candidates through an entrance test and interview.

The International Institute of Event Management, also started four years ago, is the only institute with recognition from the SNDT Women's University in Mumbai.

"Ours is the only institute in Mumbai that offers a one-year diploma course in even management that is recognised by an university," says Kavyal Sedani, administrator and counselor. "There is no entrance test and candidates are selected through an interview and counseling session."

All the institutes maintain that they have the best faculty and the most advanced course materials to equip the students.

What's the study programme like?

The curriculum is usually a mix of theory and practical. Theory usually borders around management subjects and related subjects like accountancy, law, and marketing.

Students are also sent for hands-on training in event management companies and organisations.

They are introduced into the basic theoretical aspects of management, marketing, law, accountancy, costing, communication and media, but in relation to handling of events.

Event objectives, revenue generation, sales & marketing, entertainment & celebration, communication awareness brand equity are some of the topics that are covered.

Skill sets related to scripting, set designing, television production, direction, graphics, operations, legal, backstage management, venue management, construction, technicals and celebrity management are taught to the students.

"The present bunch of managers are totally clueless about the technicalities while conducting events. So they have to depend on the technicians, which is not good when you are working in time constraints," says Jateen Rajput, director of Consumer links.

Jateen is also part of the academic council in EMDI and he equips the students with the technical know-how of stage, lighting and equipments.

"You do not need to be an engineer or a science graduate to learn the stuff. All you need is bit of logical reasoning and for the rest I am there," he says laughing.

What about placement?

The faculty is usually from the industry, which also ensures that almost all the students are absorbed by the companies.

The pay is directly proportional to the amount and quality of the event managers. "Those fresh out of the institutes can earn anywhere between seven to 10 grand (Rs 7,000 to Rs 10,000) and the figure just multiplies if one is good and hard working," says Kunal.

"Institutes should try and ensure that students are associated with any event right from the start, that is from the planning stage itself," says Tellis. "That will give them a broad idea of how events actually turn out from idea to execution stage."

IIEM prefers graduates for its course. "They are more serious about their careers," says IIEM's Sedani," and want to earn money. So training them is less of a hassle. And with our curriculum and training, they are able to start out on their own."

Engineer, however, says EMDI pushes its students to work in established companies or organisations under experienced hands before launching on their own.

"One can earn a lot in this career, but it involves back-breaking work. There is no stipulated amount and earnings largely depend on the success of each show or event. The event management organisations usually get a commission of 15 to 20 per cent of the total amount spent on organising an event," says Engineer.

There are as many girls as boys in this field. But is the physical work and late nights involved, a deterrent for women?

"I don't think so," says Dilshad. The third-year B.Com student joined EMDI as she was keen on handling and organising events. "It does make a difference being a woman, as men tend to take advantage and it become difficult to interact with workers and labourers. But then that's what it's all about. No one said it's easy, thought the final output is a sheer thrill."

"We can do shows as good as the Oscars, if we are provided the infrastructure and the facilities," says Kunal.

For more information contact the institutes at the following:

Event Management Development Institute
I.E.S. Management College
4th Floor, 791, S.K.Marg,
Opp. Lilavati Hospital,
Bandra (W), Mumbai - 400 050
Tel: +91 22 2655 0808, 2642 7171
email: mumbai@emdiworld.com
Web: http://www.emdiworld.com

International Institute of Event Management
SNDT Women's University
Juhu Campus, Juhu Tara Road,
Santacruz (W), Mumbai - 400 049
Tel: +91 22 2660 8045
email: info@iemindia.com
Web: http://www.iemindia.com

National Institute of Event Management
Ground Floor, Nandavan Building,
Corner of Vallabhbhai Road & Ansari Road,
Vile Parle (W), Mumbai - 400 056
Tel: +91 22 2671 6676, 2628 2928
email : support@niemindia.com
Web: http://www.niemindia.com


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Sub: To get info. about EM course

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Posted by NAVEEN DAVE





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