Blog post

Event Director: Is the Title Fit for Purpose?

  • Posted by Owen Mills
  • on Thursday September 26, 2019

 

What Does the Title Mean In 2019?

Recent conversations with industry professionals, concerning the obligations and objectives of an Event Director has made it difficult to ignore that, for many, the meaning of the title has fundamentally changed.

Traditionally, an Event Director would refer to someone who was responsible for the event in its entirety. Increasingly, it is being given to those with purely commercial capabilities; the operations and strategy side looks to has been lost somewhat.

 


This really came to a head recently when I took four job briefs for similar roles.

Two of these positions were similar in all aspects, and what I have long understood to be the standard. The Event Director would be responsible for the P&L, overall responsibility for the floor plans, some influence over the marketing and operational responsibility of the event. This person is playing a full part in the structure of the event.

 

The next two briefs differed in detail.

These briefs are titled ‘Event Director’, once again, but they are purely focussed on the commercial aspects of the event. They oversee sales budgets, the sales team and driving the event forwards, with a focus on revenue targets. Yes, there is still a little cross-over, in that they are conversing with marketing teams and have influence over floor plans. However, this all being from a money-making standpoint is a noticeable shift from the status quo.

 


So what? Am I just describing an Event Director?

Has commercial acumen not always been vital when someone is responsible for the direction of the show and overall brand?

I posed the original question because experienced candidates are coming to me when seeking to progress their career. The title sounds like the natural next step in seniority, candidates feel they are at the ‘Event Director’ level and -while less experienced in the operations aspect- can meet most of the requirements mentioned above. While commercially focused, the title reflects the level of responsibility they have for the running, and success, of an event.

 


But it is a different story with clients.

They are briefing me on Event Directors positions but seeking only half of the experience. While there is still a need for this position to be filled by someone who can cover all aspects, they recognise that a person capable of doing so comes along very rarely, and not often at a salary that fits in with their structure. I think we are seeing a change that is causing some friction between candidate expectations and business aspirations.

 


So, has an Event Director fallen under vanity title trend?

In a social-media-savvy society, self-promotion is encouraged, and titles are considered instant branding. Increasingly people would rather see terms such as ‘gurus’ or ‘specialist’ following their function. The events industry has largely managed to avoid this trend, the typical titles have succeeded in standing the test of time.

Constant roles within the industry enjoy such longevity due to their simple focus on the four roles vital to an event; sales, operations, marketing and management. These are yet to see much licence for creativity. However, with this recent shift in titles no longer ‘doing-what-they-say-on-the-tin’ to an extent, there is a chance we may soon be discussing exhibition experts?

 

What do you think?

Employers are not demanding that Event Directors need tick all the boxes. Is this a reflection on people or pride? Do you think the market is lacking in ‘all-rounders’ or are employers increasingly more understanding of people seeking titles they feel better represent their contribution to the company?

If no longer representative, is the title now a little redundant? Should it be split into Commercial Director and Brand Director? Or something similar? Maybe we should we just let the job title remain different for different businesses?

 

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