Conference News July/August 2017 - Page 21

21 Book Review A guide to action CN reviews a significant textbook on event organising by Philip Berners he Practical Guide to Organising Events, by Philip Berners, is a practical guide on how to plan and organise a variety of events in a wide range of contexts. There are sections structured around the key stages of event management – pre-event, on-site and post-event . Topics covered include proposal writing, budget, funding and sponsorship, health and safety, security and evaluation. The book brings in real-life case studies and anecdotal examples. Berners says the most frequent question asked by students starting out on their careers is: ’How do you reach the upper echelons in this industry?’ He says his answer is that it takes experience, not study. A seemingly odd reply from an events management academic, at first sight. However his book is pitched between the worlds of study and experience. Berners begins with some useful clarifications of terminology, noting that there is much overlap and that many coming fresh to the sector can confuse the roles of an event management company, a production company and a PR company. He talks about the need to employ horses for courses. “The first mistake,” says Berners, “is using the wrong company for the wrong task.” The events industry in developed markets can be likened to the medical profession, he argues. “An optometrist does the eyes and a dentist does the teeth. You do not want the wrong one to do the other thing,” he says. Berners’ eye is an international one and he points out that in undeveloped markets the industry’s structure is flat. Events there, he says, can be a responsibility added to the duties of an already overworked assistant in the marketing department. “International audiences have expectations of experience, quality, standards and safety. Low standards equate to high risk, and this is no longer good enough for the global audience,” Berners impresses the importance of meeting expectations on sustainability standards. There is a chapter on the differing role of the event manager; sound advice to bear in mind on risk and Philip Berners graduated in hospitality management from the University of West London where he later returned as a lecturer. He is currently researching for his doctorate on the development of the events industry in Poland. Berners has also organised events in Europe and has been venue manager at the London Hippodrome, Camden Palace and Thorpe Park. In-house event manager roles include for the Daily Mail Group and his client portfolio includes Bon Jovi, Shania Twain, Jennifer Lopez, The BRIT and MOBO Awards, London Fashion Week and Virgin Atlantic. control when planning your event, and some wise words on volunteering and its different incarnations. There are also wise words on how to train and recruit volunteers to best effect and good legal advice to consider. Berners gives a full 360-degree view of the industry, the jobs and functions and problems to consider. He runs through the business etiquette involved, right from enquiry, through confirmation, to delivery. A nice touch is the ‘Author’s Voice Box’ sections, taken from real life experience. One example concerns taking a brief and the advice: “Wherever possible I try to take the brief at the client’s office, rather than meeting at a hotel, the venue or my office… Seeing the client’s working environment allows me to gauge their professionalism and culture.” There are many guides to action, with templates on briefing organisers and making proposals among them. Thornier problems such as mark-up and commission are tackled, with the strong advice being to be transparent wherever possible. Venue practices and catering are dealt with in some depth, not surprising when Berners’ experience is considered. Other nitty-gritty issues where good nuggets of advice can be found include the world of de-briefs and handling complaints, among others. Berners concludes that the success of an event is attributable to many components. “But,” he notes, “the success of an event is only guaranteed by the quality of the person organising it.”