Live entertainment expert Stefan Lohmann talks to event manager Sara Pamina Bartsch about tasks and responsibilities in onsite event management. But Sara also has answers to the question of sustainability and the future of the event industry.
Interview with onsite Event Managerin Sara Pamina Bartsch
Onsite Event Management
Stefan: What does an Onsite Event Manager do?
Sara: Onsite Event Support means that a professional specialist / event manager supports the event and organisation team on site. Either as a sub-project manager, in artist or speaker management, as a stage manager or, in the best case, as a project manager in a shift system.
Stefan: What are the general fields of application and which ones do you mainly take over?
Sara: The areas of application in onsite event management are in particular project or sub-project managers, artist and speaker management and stage management. All these tasks are performed by myself or a person from my network/team on site at an event.
Stefan: Who are your clients: event agencies or event departments of companies?
My clients come from all kinds of backgrounds: Event agencies, event service providers such as outfitters, furnishings, catering, local organisers and marketing departments that implement events mainly internally.
Stefan: What exactly do you do, doing onsite event management?
I take over the coordination of the trades on site and ensure that everything runs smoothly. I am also available as a contact person for customers. In the final defect all the same as a “normal” event manager or project manager on site. My goal: to create fair working hours at an event for all people. To achieve this, the companies in question need more skilled workers whom they can access flexibly and with confidence.
Stefan: What training have you had? How satisfied are you with it? And in retrospect would you do the same?
In 2009 I completed my apprenticeship as an event manager and subsequently graduated as an event specialist. Afterwards I completed a Bachelor of Business and Communications on the side.
Looking back, I would do it 100% the same way, because all these experiences have made me the person I am today and I am very happy with the way I chose.
Stefan: How do onsite event management tasks differ from those of a “normal” event manager?
On-Site is about the implementation on site and not the organisation and planning in advance. Personally, I would not differentiate between event management and on-site management.
It is not about using completely different people on-site than in the office. For event planners, the on-site event is the reward and highlight for months of work. This should not be taken away as motivation. My kind of on-site support is about relieving the “normal” event managers on site. From my personal point of view, they deserve to participate in the event. It should be a kind of appreciation and duty of the employer to make this possible and to keep working hours. If our industry wants to remain attractive for the next generation, this can only be achieved with a balance between leisure and work. What is at stake here is the long-term social and societal responsibility of companies in the sense of sustainable management.
Stefan: How does the handover work if you were not involved in the overall planning?
In theory, a handover is possible via video call, telephone call, personal conversation or a written briefing. Here I fully adapt to the needs of the customer. In practice I receive a written (short) briefing with all relevant information and an oral briefing on site.
Stefan: What difficulties or opportunities for improvement do you see in event implementation with regard to onsite event management?
Working in shifts reduces the rate of illness after events. The exhaustion rate is reduced and the employees are more motivated, productive and satisfied in the long term. The challenge in on-site management is to build trust, to learn to relinquish control at events and to want to switch off. That we event managers learn to pay attention to our own needs, to listen and to perceive them.
Stefan: You are strongly committed to issues such as equal rights, burn-out prevention, compliance with working time laws and dealing with employees. All areas that belong to the topic of sustainability. How did you come to this? Why are you involved in this area?
When I was a child I told my mother that I would never work as much as she did. After that I did exactly that. With my decision for the event industry the die seemed to be cast. But from the beginning I asked myself: why do we think we have to work so incredibly much?
My commitment thus arose from my experiences. How these experiences look like, everyone can listen to my podcast DIE EVENTREVOLUTION. We can all create the life we imagine in our most beautiful dreams. Because it consists of many areas of life, which all want to be lived.
Stefan: Do you see positive developments?
Yes, there are companies that seek support during peak periods and communicate openly and honestly internally. Often, they still use on-site management on a project-by-project basis, but more and more often, depending on the situation or when planning personnel for events.
Stefan: What would have to change in your opinion and how could this be implemented?
It requires an awareness of oneself and one’s goals in life. This applies to employees as well as to managers and superiors. How do I want to live? What kind of example do I want to set and what do I strive for in life? Do I work for my own good or for the good of all people in my environment? This brings us back to the duty of care of every employer.
Stefan: How do you estimate the effects of the Corona crisis and the development towards online events?
Standstill is a great challenge for our industry and all the people in a performance-based society. But the Corona crisis is an incredible opportunity to reinvent yourself. To think anew and to turn everything upside down. We can completely question everything we have done so far and, above all, take the time to do so. We are currently learning how important it is to allow ourselves rest periods and space for reflection and to relax.
At the same time, the industry is falling back into old patterns. Blind activism, fast implementation of online events, even higher workload and even more exhaustion. But at what price? At the price of one’s own health, which can be protected by the Corona Pandemic.
Stefan: Has your area of responsibility changed and if so, how?
My on-site management support has definitely changed with the switch from live to virtual. Currently I provide on-site support for digital events as a team and participant support. I supervise the participant chat, greet guests, conduct technical checks with the participants and work completely digitally at an event. Here I was able to learn that digital exhaustion is even harder than post-event depression. The amount of work we did before is hardly possible to do digitally – except at the expense of our health again.
Stefan: What do event managers* have to prepare for now? How can a training course look like in order to be well prepared for the new requirements?
Everyone can now take the time to listen to their own needs. Create your daily routine and your life accordingly. There is always something coming up and for that we need space. Free space in the head, in the calendar and at home.
In order to further our education and to adapt to the new requirements, we should above all learn to communicate openly and honestly. In addition, we should know and develop our own strengths. These are very individual for every event manager*.
Stefan: What opportunities do you see for event managers after the Corona crisis?
We are allowed to reinvent events, think and above all be courageous. It’s a wonderful chance we should take. Events will look different after Corona. What we learned during the crisis regarding online events will be applied afterwards. Events will become more hybrid and other online advantages such as interactivity and networking opportunities can be used positively.
Anyone who has been observing the field of digitisation for a long time was aware that it would happen at a certain point in time. Corona has currently accelerated the whole thing in a measured way and with a momentum that nobody expected. Events are there to strengthen the exchange within a network, a community or between people. Selling, advertising and knowledge transfer will take place more and more online. Especially because the time factor is so important. Everyone wants to plan and spend more and more independent time. At the same time there will be a big online counter-movement. The questions here are for each individual, where do you see yourself? What gives you joy and ease? And no matter what the answer is: everything is okay.
Thank you very much for the interesting interview. You want to learn more about Sara and her podcast? Click here to visit her website: https://www.sarapamina.com/
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Stefan Lohmann is a Hamburg-based Talent Buyer and Artist Relations Manager. His service portfolio includes the placement of artists as well as the creation of comprehensive live entertainment concepts for concerts, festivals and events. With his live entertainment network of artists and creative people, he also represents market-leading show productions in the entertainment field of aerial shows, drone shows, video projection mapping, dance shows … “We create for our customers what is not available on the market,” says Stefan Lohmann about his company philosophy.
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