A lucky few of you will know how cool and wonderful Stylight’s events are… but do you know who is behind these amazing feats and what it’s like to manage the craziest and most inconceivable requests? Being an event manager is definitely not just about organising cool meetups but much more! That’s why we asked our awesome Event Manager, Aki, for her expert tips for successful event management and just what really goes into Stylight’s infamous events.
If you want to follow her path… you definitely have to be ready for some stress, fun and a lot of planning skills!
1. The key to success: stay calm under pressure… and wear comfortable shoes!
Event management is one of the more time-intense and stressful jobs out there. Good time management and special organizational skills are, therefore, essential to be an event manager. But one thing I had to learn, being in this job, is that no matter how organized and perfectly prepared you feel during the process, there will always be that one point (most of the time it is around one week before the event), where everything seems to go down hill and the only thing you can do is stay calm and make it work – somehow.
You know what? It usually does work out… somehow, but it does require hard (and also physical!) work.
That is why one of the most important pieces of advice for the week before an event is leave your heels at home and go for sneakers. Goodie bag packing, location set-ups, and last minute “we are out of something” situations require comfortable shoes ;).
2. Think of everything… and fake it until you make it
Of course not everybody can be a “Steve Jobs-like” maniac, with his attention to detail, but over time, working in this job, it becomes clear that all the time you use to take a closer look at details, is time very well spent. In short: as an event manager, you are expected to think of everything. Murphy’s Law says that if something is considered, it might go wrong, and it most likely will. In event management it is a little different: everything you have considered could go wrong, most likely doesn’t, but there’s always something completely different that will. Experience shows that there is NO event, where everything goes as planned. Believe me, Stylight events have had it all: speakers stuck in airplanes, live acts showing up too late, a caterer delivering spoons instead of forks… and to top it all off: a thunderstorm making the tent at Berlin Fashion Week sound like you are in a rainforest during monsoon season. Nevertheless, we managed to make the Stylight Fashion Blogger Conference a great success welcoming over 200 guests and great speakers from all over the world.
There are unaccountable little things that affect an event that you cannot predict beforehand – and certainly, the weather is one of them. That’s why the closer you get to the event the more your weather forecast app becomes one of the most used apps on your smartphone. Especially when you are looking to host an event called the ‘Stylight Summer Session’ and it’s taking place in Munich: Let’s just say, you could definitely pick a less risky place to host a summer event than bavaria ;). But in the end this is what the job is about: finding solutions – because the problems will find you themselves!
Of course, the ultimate goal is always to make guests experience an event that feels like nothing went wrong. If the guests did not realize the mistake, you can chalk it down to a ‘non mistake’. Still, you have to learn from each and every ‘non mistake’, consider the inconceivable, and pay attention to details. There is one simple thing that makes every skilled event professional an even better event professional: experience… and if you don’t have the experience yet: fake it until you make it.
3. EVERYBODY will ask for literally EVERYTHING
The time before the event, when the weather app becomes more important, is also the time when the “what if…” questions start to pop up. You’ll get it all, from “Aki, what if it rains…?”, to “What if too many people show up?” or “What if too little guests show up?”. One thing I learned over the time is: prepare an answer for everything, because you are expected to have one (any kind of answer). And (most importantly) not only think of a plan B, but also have a plan C or D, too. And, if it’s event day and you think you’ve answered all the questions that might come up, you’re wrong! The amount of questions I get during that day could actually fill a book and literally each and every one of the questions starts with the same phrase: “Aki I know I am super late, and I know you must be stressed, but I have just one quick question…”.
However, how this sentence ends, could not be more different – it can go from last-minute guestlist requests (I am sure EVERY event manager knows what I’m talking about) to last minute alcohol orders, or production set-up changes (I’m talking: “Why is this light turned on?” or “Could we move the carpet 5cm to the left.”). No matter how annoying those questions can be, especially under the stressful circumstances of the event day, this is also the time where I, as an event manager, feel most appreciated. This shows how much everyone cares and wants to be a part of the amazing event. It also proves how events always manage to bring everyone together.
4. People, People, People…
When it comes down to it, events are all about people: guests, partners, sponsors, helpers, artists. The ability to connect, understand and build long-lasting relationships is essential for any event manager. Although, as an event manager you chose to act in the background, the event day can be compared to a stage performance with the event manager as the show director, choreographing all the different stakeholders to the event.
Despite its growth over the past years, Stylight’s events still manage to bring together all different kinds of people: Stylighters, their friends and family are partying together with business partners, fashion bloggers, celebrities and press representatives. For me, this is what Stylight events stand for: the unique combination of being approachable, fashionable and SO MUCH FUN. No matter if we are talking about the Magazine Launch Event at our very own Stylight HQ with 100+ guests, or if we are talking about our biggest yearly event: the Stylight Fashion Influencer Awards with 800+ guests, the crowd always brings a special, unique atmosphere with it.
Stylight events are now more and more known for an event concept that we, as the event team, have established over the past year that includes a variety of different event specials (live acts, themed specials, goodie bags.. yes, everybody knows our goodie bags). Despite this, for me, the most valuable asset of our events is still our very typical crowd. In the end it will always be the people that make the atmosphere!
5. There is no way you can do it alone…
I think the most important thing about any kind of job is to give your all to remain passionate about it. For me, there is actually two things that could not be a better reward for all the hard work I put in. Firstly, the instant feedback you get right whilst the event is still happening. You can see in the way guests react to what you’ve built up and how people talk about what happens and you can even experience it yourself, if the event was a success or not. Secondly: how every event proves over and over again that teamwork is the key and how awesomely engaged and supportive the Stylight family is. It is great to watch Stylighters from all kinds of departments joining the event team for one night and giving their best to make another event a success. An event is, and will always be, a team effort and you can never do it alone – and at Stylight you certainly don’t have to.
One last secret? The best part for me, as an event manager, is to open Instagram and Snapchat in the early hours of the morning, right when I get home after the event. I check guests’ posts (searching for the official event hashtag) and look at our Snapchat’s (@stylightsnaps) story from the night. This gives me a first little insight into how guests experienced the event and makes me excited for the next one.
|By Aki Hertlein|