Events — Behind the Scenes — An Event Project Manager’s Perspective

By Event Project Manager, Rachel Kloster

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Here at Evia, we work with many different types of clients all with one end goal: to execute a successful event. Whether this means they want to have their sessions recorded in the room and posted for on demand viewing later or live streaming their sessions to thousands of online viewers in real time, our Project Management Team has to be flexible in their approach to the client’s requests to ensure their goals are met.

Over the past five years, I have worked with many different clients and have had to tailor my project management approach to each one to ensure their success. One specific project that sticks out is one my team recently did in Las Vegas. The client came to us at the beginning of the year and let us know that three internal events they had previously hosted over a two-week period would be combining into one large event, and we would need to support the three different groups in one location at the same time.

Armed with this information, my team began strategizing how we were going to best support the client’s requests. We would be responsible for recording and live streaming in over 100 rooms, through four separate venues, over five days. We would also need to build a platform where the online users could access the content, including a cross-platform mobile application. This was shaping up to be the largest event our company had ever done, so we knew it would need to be approached differently than any other project we had tackled before.

After much discussion with our internal team, we determined we would have one lead project manager out in front for all interactions with the client and logistics teams, with three supporting project managers in the background helping to execute the tasks required at each individual venue. This allowed the client to have one point of contact throughout the planning period but ensured each venue would be supported effectively during the execution phase of the project.

The planning for this project took place over the course of seven months, and during this planning time, many things changed. This is one thing our project management team needs to be ready and willing to handle on every project. No matter what the original goal of a project may be, things can (and will) always change, and our team has a lot of experience successfully managing this type of environment.

Our project managers’ main focus is the success of the overall event and ensuring our clients are taken care of, so this often includes managing and communicating change to the rest of our event execution team. For this project, this required us to hold weekly meetings as a project management team where we could come together and understand what had changed from the week prior and discuss how to best distribute that information to the rest of the team. We would then meet with our event execution team, who would implement the changes required. This allowed our project managers to always be on the same page before we distributed information to the rest of the team, which allowed us to speak with one voice. In my experience, it’s important to be transparent with your execution team and ensure they have all the information needed to accomplish their tasks. This can often feel like you may be over communicating, but I believe the more information people have, the more effective they will be at completing the work needed to satisfy our client’s needs.

In addition to meeting with our internal team consistently, I made sure I was meeting with our client weekly. This enabled me to receive any changes as soon as possible, which then would allow our team to pivot as needed quickly.

As we got closer to the event, it became more important to stay in constant contact with the client and logistics teams to ensure all the information the project management team was disseminating was as accurate and up to date as possible. This meant we would often be in contact multiple times a week (sometimes multiple times a day) via email, phone, or instant messenger. Allowing our clients this type of access to the project manager builds trust and ensures they feel supported.

Once we arrived onsite at the event, our project management and onsite event execution team fanned out to the different venues to implement and execute on all the work we had been planning for seven months. Ultimately, we had sixty-six team members onsite, supporting 129 total rooms and 1,313 total sessions. Each project manager took ownership of their venue and the team members supporting the space, allowing me as the lead Project Manager to support the client completely throughout the week.

Though there are always unforeseen challenges that come up while onsite at a live event, the overall event was a success. The client was very happy with the level of support each group received at the individual venues, something that wouldn’t have been possible without all the time and effort the team put in before the event. Having the ability to be agile and approach this project in a new way was instrumental to its success, and it really speaks to the ability of our project management team’s ability to be flexible and do whatever it takes to support our clients.