SUSAN MURIUKI: Why you need an events planner

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Kindly introduce yourself to us.

My name is Sue Muriuki from Divine Schools Africa. Divine Schools is a vocational school that trains individuals in the event and decor industry. We have been training for the last 14 years.

What is events management and what does it involve?

Event management is the application of project management in creating and developing large scale events like, corporate events, festivals, etc

So, as a trainer in matters events management, what determines the success of an event?

The success of any event is determined by first, the brief you receive from your client. As an event manager, you are to come up with the concept, and present it to the client. Once it is approved, you are to implement and execute the plan as per your client’s request coupled with your expertise to ensure the end product accomplishes the client’s objectives of that particular event.

What is the essence of training for events management?

There are a lot of things that go into planning an event, from capturing the vision, coming up with a theme, looking for funding, sponsorships, market research, sourcing for service providers, venues etc. It does require one to go through some form of training to understand the dynamics of planning an event.

What about if you don’t have the budget for a professional event planner, how should you plan your event in order for it to be successful?

I believe one can work with an event planner, because event planners charge a percentage of your budget, for example your budget is Kshs. 50,000. The event planner may charge 10% which is Kshs. 5000 and they are to plan the event with the remaining Kshs. 45000.

A lot of people shy from using event planners citing costs, but it is actually the opposite. An event planner will save you time and money, when it comes to service providers, since they are working with them regularly, they are able to get you discounts where you get to save.

It also takes a minimum of 200 hours to plan a good event, therefore, it is always advisable to use professionals in the field.

Do you do events management for clients as well? Or, you just train event managers only?

We also plan events for clients. As we have a huge database of event planners, we do take up events and plan with our alumni and current students too.

So, what opportunities are there for someone who would wish to take a career in events planning? And what are the requirements if any, (that is academic) for one to be a professional?

The opportunities are amazing. Let me just list a few events you can plan; graduation ceremonies, corporate events, weddings, religious events, seminars, conferences, sports events, political events, exhibitions, birthdays, funerals. The list goes on.

Requirements are you need to have passion for planning events, high energy, a people person, some basic business skills, creative person, detail oriented and an excellent organizer etc.

When a client is looking for an event planner, what should they look for?

When you are looking for a planner, it is important to get recommendations from a minimum of 3 clients they have served before. They must be able to get your brief and come back with a good concept. They must be a good listener, up to date with the latest trends, go the extra mile, they are not in it for the money, knowledgeable about events. They must also be certified event planners.

Who certifies event planners?

We currently do not have a body, what we have are event planners associations that can assist in vetting a planner you wish to hire. Event management training is a new industry in Kenya. Divine Schools was the first school in East Africa to offer formal training in the events industry. We have a database of 3000 event planners.

Imagine this scenario.
You walk up to the venue on the day of the event but the decor guy has done little work, tables and chairs not yet arranged, the caterers have not yet started cooking.
In short, how do you handle service providers and make sure they deliver as promised?

First you need to have a contract with the service provider with clear deliverables, that include set up time. You also need to get references before you hire a service provider, that’s why it is safer to use an event planner.

What is your parting shot?

An event planner saves you time and money. For your next event, use a professional, certified planner, in order to have that memorable event, that your clients will remember for a long time.

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