How do 80,000 fans get into a stadium, grab a drink and a sandwich, pop to the toilet, find their seat, get entertained by sportspeople for a few hours, get out and get home? Well, it’s all down to a huge network of individuals working together to deliver every single minute detail.
Do the players know when they need to be ready? Are all of the seat covers in the VIP area scented (seriously!)? Where the heck is the trophy?! There really is a remarkable amount of things that need to be done for each sporting event and this requires everybody, from the ticket inspector to the events director, to work in unison to get everything done. A walk in the park? We think not!
What does this field involve?
People love entertainment; it’s as simple as that. The public hands over literally millions and millions of pounds each year to watch a ridiculous number of sporting events unfold right before their very eyes. It is not unheard of for people to pay thousands of pounds for a single ticket. As such, the people working to deliver these events need to be 100% confident that they are delivering a satisfactory experience.
When it comes to events management careers, broadly speaking, you’re looking at four levels: events assistants, events executives, events managers and events directors. Much in the same way as most processes, there is a standard managerial hierarchy that requires ‘planners’ and ‘doers’.
As with any career, you’ll inevitably begin as a ‘doer’ (commonly referred to in this sector as an events assistant). Your domain is the things that need moving over there, tickets that have to be stamped for her or that contract that needs to be sent to him.
Competition is fierce though. It’s very rare that an events assistant in this business will not also have a long list of events-based internships under their belt. It’s one of those industries where the bottom rung of the ladder is particularly crowded.
As you progress, expect a lot more responsibility. You could be solely responsible for looking after all of the event sponsors, whose monetary contribution translates into you being their personal skivvy. Water too cold? View impeded? It’s your duty to keep them happy and ensure they come back again with their cheque book in tow.
Next step up and you’re getting dangerously close to ‘planning’. Managers are responsible for ensuring everybody is in the right place, everyone is doing their job correctly and all of the spectators are 100% happy. Any issues that the executives can’t deal with are escalated to you and resolved by your wise and calm head. The issue here is this: only experience can guarantee that type of head. Expect a few years of hard graft before you get to this position.
At the top of the tree stands the events director. This is the person that sits down with the FA, LTA, NBA, WBC or ITV (there are lot of abbreviations in sport eh?) to work out exactly what they want to achieve, from how much money they want to make and which sponsors they want on board, to particular themes for each event.
They are the architect of everything, ensuring that the necessary amount of resources are put in place, the correct people are assembled and everything is put together in the right way. This is undoubtedly a high-pressure job and not for the faint hearted.
How do I get into this field?
So what qualities are needed to excel in this industry and how do I know if it’s for me? Well firstly, you absolutely need to be a people person. Spectators, and paying ones at that, are a demanding and relenting bunch. You need that rare ability to keep a pearly white smile on the go whilst that angry man shouts abuse at you because his team are losing. You need patience to deal with prima donna athletes and the resilience to deal with a whole lot of pressure.
When it comes to training, there are now many degrees in events management. However, relevant experience is just as good (and often better) for getting your foot in the door. As with most industries, the ability to demonstrate that in some way you can do the job before you begin is essential. Just make sure you don’t forget to bring the ball with you!
Are you football mad? Does the atmosphere at a huge sporting event get your heart racing? If so, why not forge a career out of that feeling, and pass it on to thousands and thousands of others!