Everyone agrees that in event planning, teamwork absolutely makes the dream work. One of the surest ways for event planners to stage successful events is to have a multi-skilled and dedicated team. And when it comes to staffing your team, it is all about quality and not quantity.
Hiring event staff is a challenge for event planners when looking for permanent employees in their team or filling specific roles for a particular event. Essentially, event staff can be permanent and/or changed from event to event. You have to think about what serves you better between having permanent staff or hiring freelancers on a contractual basis.
Your team does not necessarily need to be big for all the roles to be filled. You can have a small team with each member fulfilling multiple roles. You don’t just want a large group of people reporting to you; it’s better to fill essential positions, ensuring that each team member is productive.
Below, we discuss the roles within any event management team and how to go about hiring event staff to manage big and small events.
Event Management Team Roles:
1. Head of Events – or “creative director.” This person produces the strategy or the creative vision behind each event. They finalize the budgets and manage the whole team as well as external partnerships with clients and vendors.
2. Events Coordinator/ Operations Manager – in many cases, this role and “Head of events” are merged. This person oversees all the actions towards realizing the creative vision of the event. This includes managing all staff, the vendors, the event marketing calendar, and data capturing during and post the event. There must be regular communication between this role and the head of events to ensure that all planning aligns with the overarching strategy.
3. Marketing Lead – this person is responsible for all communication of the event. That includes social media posts, invitations, paid promotions, and updating websites. During the event, they manage communication like promoting the event hashtag and tagging key guests or speakers. They also do post-event communication, i.e., sending attendees thank-you notes.
4. Sales – if the event is customer-oriented, salespersons communicate with the customers on behalf of the event team or the brand. This role can be filled by any number of people depending on the size of the event.
5. Designer – may also be a vendor. This person produces all the visual elements needed for branding the event, from designing adverts and invitations to the signage and décor for the actual event.
6. General Staff – these can also be volunteers. They execute set-up, take-down, scanning tickets, assembling participation kits or party favors, and seating attendees. The number of general staff must be well-considered; too many hands can lead to idleness while too few can leave guests feeling frustrated.
7. On-site Lead – this role can also be merged with “Events Coordinator.” This person is in charge of all general staff and solving any problems that arise during the event. The on-site lead is the go-to problem solver when a speaker is late, or seats need to be rearranged to make attendees comfortable.
8. Security – it is recommended to have one security guard for every 100 attendees. Outdoor events and events where alcohol is served tend to require more security than indoor events with little or no alcohol.
9. Event Technician – This person is in charge of all the technology facilitating the event. They are responsible for resolving any audio or visual impairments during the event to enhance the attendee experience.
10. Vendors – they’re not part of any event management team as they differ from event to event. However, it is crucial to work with reputable vendors who will execute instructions from your team. They report to the events coordinator or the on-site lead.
Hiring Event Staff
The success of any of your events rests heavily on your staff. If you are hiring permanent staff, there is even more need to select the right kind of people as they will impact your business’s trajectory and reputation. Here are a few tips to help you hire staff wisely:
Hire according to your budget
Your event budget has to accommodate the staffing needs of the type of event you are planning. A birthday party, for example, will have a smaller staffing budget than a black-tie event. The budget will also influence:
- The caliber of your staff: Your budget will determine the people you can hire – entry-level or seasoned event professionals – as well as the number of staff.
- The flexibility of your staff: It could be helpful to hire staff well within your budget to avoid being short-staffed at any point. Ensure you have extra money for unforeseeable costs like paying for overtime if the event goes on for longer than you anticipated.
- Meeting your client’s needs: Your client’s requirements may result in you having to pay your staff more than the going rate. In this instance, it can help to start with a smaller team, choosing a few individuals who have multiple capabilities.
Hiring staff through an agency
Hiring staff is arguably easier when done through a recruitment agency or an event staffing company. They can alleviate many of your hiring anxieties, such as interviews, researching staff remuneration, and writing up contracts. Agencies have large databases of candidates who have already been screened for things like criminal records and qualifications. However, there are also disadvantages to an agency, such as the extra fees that they charge.
Here is how you can help an agency to find you suitable candidates:
- Give them clear job descriptions: Use your client’s event requirements to put together clear job descriptions. If the client requires specific skills during the event, put these qualities are in the job description. Describe them clearly to the agency so that they can select the best matches from their databases.
- Consult your peers: You can also ask for recommendations from fellow event planners on the best agencies to use. This can help you to avoid agencies with exorbitant rates or disreputable workers.
- Consult references: Also consult the references of the agency you are considering and the references of your potential staff members. A simple call can reveal more about an agency or a potential candidate than an online rating or word-of-mouth.
Hiring staff on your own
If you’re not hiring through an agency, you can advertise vacancies on social media channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook or employment job sites like Indeed. You will then need to screen all applicants and research the compensation rates yourself. Make sure you do the following:
- Familiarize yourself with employment regulations: You will need to know the laws pertaining to that option, whether you are hiring staff permanently or contractually. Also, bear in mind that these laws differ from location to location.
- Draw up employment contracts: The terms on your contracts must be structured according to the location of your event. The contract must stipulate details like the amount of work expected, working hours, and payment structure. Ensure that all contracts are signed before the event planning and the event itself.
- Compliance: Different locations will also have different compliance rules when it comes to the demographics of your employees. If you are hiring a big team, ensure that it is diverse according to the laws of that location.
When hiring event staff, ask them questions that will show you versatility and the skills required for your type of event. If you already have a team, also ask them about their personality to see if they will fit into your particular team. You also want to ensure that the candidate has a keen interest in the event industry as a whole.
Essential questions to ask include:
- Have you worked at this type of event before?
- What is the most challenging situation you have experienced as a staff member in an event, and how did you overcome it?
- Describe your process when making an urgent decision.
- When you attend an event, what makes your experience more pleasant?
- What would be possible reasons in your life that would make you unable to work overtime, during weekends, or many consecutive hours?
- What event software and tools are you familiar with?
- How do you keep up with event industry news and trends?
You can also look for essential skills such as:
- First aid certification
- Being multi-lingual
- Child-care certification
- Technical proficiency
You can also present them with possible scenarios to test their problem-solving skills, for example:
- “You cannot find a guest on the guestlist, but they have purchased a ticket. What do you do?”
- “You are in conflict with a fellow staff member. How do you resolve it?”
- “You realize you have made a mistake and inconvenienced the rest of the team. What do you do?”
Contractual Staff vs. Permanent Staff
Contracting staff is very popular in the events industry because of the flexibility in time and pay. Event management is cyclical; it can be jam-packed in some stages of the planning period. It quietens down during the event itself. Contracting staff has its appeals, but it also has disadvantages:
- Short-term commitment: Contracting staff allows you to fill the most urgent roles in your team for a specific event without keeping those employees permanently. It also frees you from obligations such as vacation or sick leave pay, health insurance, and car allowances.
- Exposure to diverse talent: Contracting staff means you get to rotate the people you work with. This exposes you to people who bring unique experiences and skills to your business. It can help keep your events trendy and versatile.
- Spending more time on hiring: A permanent team can be advantageous because it relieves you from the time-consuming process of interviewing and hiring event staff. Hiring includes a lot of paperwork, training, and induction, which takes away from your time to focus on your upcoming event.
- It’s harder to establish loyalty: You may have trouble establishing connections with contractors who are not as invested in the success of your events as you are because they aren’t permanent team members.
The Right Size Team
The advice given in this article is flexible and can be modified for any team size. It is also important to note that different events will require different kinds of teams. Smaller or simpler events can be executed by 3 or 4 people instead of larger corporate events that require entire departments. Whatever the size of your team, you simply want to make sure that everyone on the team is clear on their roles and that they are all performed satisfactorily.