The event planning industry is home to a varying number of job titles and job descriptions: Event planner, meeting planner, event coordinator, convention planner, event manager, to name just a few. The list seems endless. Also, as the industry grows, so does the list of job functions.

Even though job growth is always a good thing, the range of event planning job functions and event management and coordination job titles can be daunting for those just starting out in the industry. It is also challenging and frustrating for seasoned professionals faced with clients who misunderstand the services offered.

Since there are so many positions in the event industry, it is quite necessary to understand who does what and why. It is a common misconception that event coordinators, planners and event managers are one in the same, just a different title depending on the company. However, this is completely false for these positions are very different. Understanding how to differentiate coordinators, planners or event managers from each other will make your event run smoother.

New jobs are being created in the event industry as the need arises. This is positive for anyone who works in event planning. Howbeit, it leads to communication issues when job titles aren’t clearly understood. The confusion is understandable. The skill sets used in event coordination, planning and event management overlap. You can find event planners that also work as event coordinators and vice versa, further adding to the communication problem.

But to help clients understand what type of industry professional they need, it’s imperative to unveil the difference between event coordinating, event planning and event management. Note that although these jobs certainly have some similarities, they serve distinctly different functions. A client looking for someone who can do all the functions of event management may not understand why an event planner isn’t able to meet their needs.

Duties of an Event Coordinator

An event coordinator does not get involved with the design of the event itself. They are only tasked with managing the individual components to ensure the event goes smoothly. Note that once the planner has determined the vision of the event, the coordinator assists the planner in making that a reality. These experts may look at vendors, organize delivery dates, and handle logistical tasks.

According to reports, bigger organizations may have two coordinators for every planner, while smaller operations might only have one coordinator who serves the needs of all executive decision-makers. Howbeit, there is typically a direct line of supervision over the coordinator position.

Note that it doesn’t mean event coordinators have it easy. Most of them have the difficult task of organizing everything on-site with only a few hours before the event begins. This, of course, is when most problems occur, which is why a good coordinator is focused, organized, and resourceful.

However, this is an ideal job position for those eager to start a career in event planning. Note that starting as a coordinator gives you a strong foundation to move on to an event planner role later in your career. A strong coordinator is worth their weight in gold to any planner, and job security (if you’re good at your job) is virtually guaranteed.

To break into a career in event coordination, you need to acquire an internship or volunteer with a nonprofit. You’ll get hands-on experience when coordinating a real event and build your professional network at the same time.

Duties of an Event Planner

Note that the main operative word here is planning. All events – from bridal showers to milestone birthday celebrations to big corporate gatherings – all start with a plan of some sort. The initial discussions with clients concerning event ideas, themes, desirable dates, and budget guidelines are all part of the event planning process.

Have it in mind that event planning starts at the beginning, from the very early stages of concept and continues all the way until the actual event takes place. And, honestly, for a few weeks after the event as event planners wrap up details and handle follow-up items.

Also note that event planning involves working closely with the client to design an event that shows the client’s vision of the gathering and meets the event’s objective. Clients who hire an event planner hire someone to plan all aspects of the event, including the related details and action items, and to see that event through until its completion. In plain terms, planning responsibilities can include but are not limited to:

  • Selecting an overall theme for the event
  • Developing a budget
  • Selecting a venue
  • Negotiating hotel contracts
  • Hiring outside vendors
  • Planning the menu
  • Hiring a caterer
  • Arranging for guest speakers or entertainment
  • Coordinating transportation
  • Choosing the colour scheme
  • Developing invitations

Duties of an Event Manager

If event planning is about creating the big picture of the occasion, event management involves handling the fine details before and during the event. Have it in mind that all events are made up of many moving parts. Event management has the responsibility of keeping all the moving parts in motion and travelling in the right direction. When a part slows down or gets lost, it’s event management’s job to get the part back on track.

Also note that event management works both before and during the event to make sure it happens without any problems – at least, problems the attendees can see. Event management normally takes care of the overview created by the event planner and figures out the practical details involved in making the occasion happen.

Event management includes some areas that overlap with event planning. Also note that event management might be involved in reserving event locations and working with vendors to ensure everything is ready for the event.

However, where event planning ensures that there’s a venue to hold the event, event management strives to make sure there’s a plan for parking at the venue and each of the vendors knows where to set up. Among other event management duties, a manager might do the following before an event:

  • Reserving a location for an event
  • Coordinating outside vendors
  • Developing a parking plan
  • Designing emergency contingency plans
  • Ensuring compliance with health and safety standards
  • Managing staff responsible for each function
  • Overseeing execution of an event
  • Monitoring of the event
  • Resolving event situations on site

Conclusion

It can be very hard to understand if you require an event Coordinator, event planner or an event manager, as the roles and responsibilities often overlap. Noting the difference between the three will ensure that you hire the professional services that you need. When considering hiring an event Coordinator, event planner or an event manager, the key factor to consider is if you need help in the planning the event, or help with the delivery of it.

Joy Nwokoro