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Event Management

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Lesson Objectives

  1. Give a definition of events
  2. Outline event categories by using examples for each
  3. Name and explain characteristcs of events
  4. Compare characteristics of services to characteristics of events
  5. Apply the theoretical knowledge to different kinds of events. (See exercise)

Terms and definitions

Special events are:
“That phenomenon arising from those non-routine occasions which have leisure, cultural, personal or organizational objectives set apart from the normal activity of daily life,
whose purpose is to enlighten, celebrate, entertain or challenge the experience of a group of people.” Shone and Perry (2004, 3)

Goldblatt stresses the celebratory aspect of events:
‘A special event recognises a unique moment in time with ceremony and ritual to satisfy specific needs.’ Shone and Perry (2004, 3)

Getz defines: ‘…a special event is an opportunity for a leisure, social or cultural experience outside the normal range of choices or beyond everyday experience.’ Shone and Perry (2004, 3)

Shone and Perry suggest a categorisation of special events:

  1. Leisure events (Leisure, sport, recreation)
  2. Cultural events (ceremonial, sacred, heritage, art, folklore)
  3. Organizational events (Commercial, political, charitable, sales)
  4. Personal events (Wedding, birthdays, anniversaries)

Shone and Perry (2004, 4)

Events have key characteristics in common with projects – they are “non-routine” and “unique” – and many other characteristics are similar to characteristics of services.

Characteristics of events are:

  • uniqueness
  • perishability
  • ambience and service
  • labour-intensive
  • fixed time-scale
  • intangible
  • ritual or ceremony
  • personal interaction

Each event will be different. There are the participants, the surroundings, the audience and other variables that make the event unique. There have been about 300 repeated editions
of Olympic Games, each unique because of different athletes, organizers and different audience.

An event cannot be repeated in the same way. Thus event managers have to use a variety of techniques to encourage activities in quiet periods.

An event organizer has to consider that tangible items will help to make the idea of how good an event has been memorable.

Ritual and ceremony
This is the major characteristic of events. Ritual and ceremony emphasize the continuity of tradition. Modern events -like the Awarding of the Berlin Golden Bears – are specially made up.
To attract tourists even brand new special events are created.

Ambience and service
An event manager can try to make an event a success by giving careful attention to details. Though people cannot be compelled to enjoy themselves.

Personal contact and interaction
To make an event successful event managers must be aware of the fact, that an enjoyable atmosphere is dependent on the actions and reactions of people.

Complex and unique events require labour-intensive organisation and operation, a high level of communication and planning, a big amount of time and effort. No two events are
likely to need the same number of staff – an athletic competition will require completely different operations than a company annual outing to a theme park.

Fixed timescale
Events – like projects – run to a fixed timescale – short or very long.

Shone and Perry (2004, 13-18)


  1. Repeat features of services. Compare characteristics of services with characteristcs of events. What are the differences/similarities?
  2. Analyse events of each category according to theory:
  • Leisure/sporting event: The Olympic Games (past or future)
  • Personal event: A wedding or anniversary
  • Cultural event: Klangwolke, Viennese Opera Ball
  • Organisational event: Trade fair, Open Day

Shone, Anton and Parry, Bryn (2004). Successful event management. Thomson. London