Careers Business Ownership Event Management vs. Planning What You Need to Know to Avoid Client Confusion Share PINTEREST Email Print Image by © The Balance 2018 Business Ownership Industries Event Planning Retail Small Business Restauranting Real Estate Nonprofit Organizations Landlords Import/Export Business Freelancing & Consulting Franchises Food & Beverage eBay E-commerce Construction Operations & Success Becoming an Owner By Melanie Woodward Melanie Woodward Facebook Instagram Melanie Woodward wrote about event planning for The Balance Small Business, and is the creator of the popular Event Planning Blueprint. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 10/29/19 Event management and event planning are frequently tossed around interchangeably even though they are two very different things. Quite simply, planning and managing are not the same. While the skill sets of these two functions do overlap, they are two distinct functions. It creates problems for those dealing with clients who mistakenly think they need an event manager when what they need is an event planner. And for those clients who are under the impression that all event managers also handle event planning. So let’s clear up the confusion because it is important that you and your clients have the same understanding. What's In a Name? The event planning industry is host to numerous job titles and job descriptions. Event planner, meeting planner, event coordinator, convention planner, and event manager to name just a few. The list seems endless. As the industry grows, so does the list of job functions. While job growth is always a good thing, the range of event planning job functions and event management job titles can be confusing to those starting out in the industry. It is equally frustrating for seasoned professionals faced with clients who misunderstand the services offered. Event Planning Let’s start with event planning. The key operative word here is planning. All events – from bridal showers to milestone birthday celebrations to big corporate gatherings – begin with a plan of some sort. The initial discussions with clients regarding event ideas, themes, desirable dates, and budget guidelines are all part of the event planning process. 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. Event planning involves working closely with the client to design an event that reflects 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. Event planning responsibilities can include but are not limited to: Selecting an overall theme for the eventDeveloping a budgetSelecting a venueNegotiating hotel contractsHiring outside vendorsPlanning the menuHiring a catererArranging for guest speakers or entertainmentCoordinating transportationChoosing the color schemeDeveloping invitations Event planning is everything that goes into putting together an event. This function falls under the larger umbrella of event management. Event Management Every type of event is made up of numerous parts that fit together like pieces of a puzzle. All of those pieces ultimately come together to create an event. Successful events have all of those related pieces coming together at the right time and the right place, smoothly, efficiently and according to plan. This process is called event management. It is, in simple terms, project management of the event itself. Event management involves creating, coordinating, and managing all the different components of an event as well as the teams of people responsible for each aspect. Some aspects of event management may include but are not limited to: Reserving a location for an eventCoordinating outside vendorsDeveloping a parking planDesigning emergency contingency plansEnsuring compliance with health and safety standardsManaging staff responsible for each functionOverseeing execution of an eventMonitoring of the eventResolving event situations on site Event Managers and Event Planners Work Together Defining these two functions is challenging because, not only are they closely related, the responsibilities often overlap. Individual event planners may offer event management services, and event managers may also offer event planning. It all depends on the individual planner or corporate event management team, the venue, and the event itself. It is important to understand the differences between the two and to determine which services you will provide. For example; If you offer event planning services for a large-scale event, you will work with an event manager who will coordinate your services with those of the catering manager, the audiovisual team, etc. Define your role and the services you will provide and clearly communicate these to prospective clients to avoid any confusion during the planning process.