Project Management in Event Management


Project management at a commercial high school
10 units of 50 minutes


Identify similarities between project management and event management
Apply project management techniques to event planning
Explain the importance of risk management and insurance of risks
Plan an event by using project management tools


Knowledge of project management tools
Knowledge of event management

Characteristics of a project applied to an event

Projects as well as events are unique and timed operations producing and outcome.
Their objectives should be formulated in a SMART way. This means objectives have to be
achievable (or agreed on)

The deliverables have to be met within the boundaries of time, costs and quality.

Useful tools from Project Management are:
Work Breakdown Structure
Project Planning Techniques
Gantt Charts
Risk Management

Work Breakdown Structure

The event manager has to break down the job into parts and put these parts in a hierarchical order.

Gantt Charts
This tool is easily applicable to events showing the tasks in a time order. Gantt charts conist of the list of tasks and the time it takes to finish them.

Risk Management
Event managers have to provide a safe event for all people concerned. This means all staff involved need adequate training. Furthermore legal requirements have to be met – regulations set by the
EU, by provincial governement or local authorities.

Imagine that your organisation (a producer of toys made of wood) is planning to exhibit a new range of products at an international trade fair. Carry out the planning of that exhibit by using appropriate project management tools.
This task involves looking for a suitable trade show, calculating the costs, preparation of promotional material, staff training and planning of marketing activities.

Literature: Shone, Anton and Parry, Brian. Successful Event Management. A practical handbook. Second Edition. Thomson. London 2004


Event Management


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