Last Updated on October 7, 2021
Today, we’re going to take a brief look at the process involved in putting together your ‘dream team’ for running an event. For newer event managers, one of the toughest tasks before them is estimating how large to make their team. Is there such a thing as too many volunteers? How many security guards should there be? What about caterers and engineers?
I’m here with a few general rules of thumb which – while they’re by no means set in stone – should help you at least start to estimate how many people you’ll need to keep your show running smoothly.
First and foremost, we’ve got your management team. These are the people who run the show, helmed by you. They’re your team leaders. Naturally, you’re going to have fewer staff falling under this category than others. A good rule of thumb for your management team is to have one professional per fifty to one hundred attendees. Make sure each manager knows their exact job so they can focus on that and there aren’t “too many cooks in the kitchen”.
General Event Staff/Volunteers
First, let’s discuss your general event staff. These are the people who help with setup and take-down, they’re the men and women who sell tickets at the door, the volunteers who wander around directing lost attendees and offering assistance wherever they can. You may think in this case that more is better: the more general staff you have, the easier it’ll be to get things done. Unfortunately, this isn’t entirely true. Overstaffing your volunteer areas can lead to the people you’ve brought in feeling bored, underutilized, or unappreciated. For general staff and volunteers, you should try for five to six per hundred guests.
The reason this number is so high is because, more often than not, you’re going to have a fairly large number of volunteers pull a no-show. You want to account for that so you’re not left shorthanded.
In addition to general staff (who help with the less technical side of running the show), you’re going to need a few technicians to handle the more complicated audio/visual needs of your conference. For technical staff, there’s really not a ‘magic number.’ It varies depending on how much technology you are using at the event. Got several complicated technical keynotes taking place at once? Better have a few sound and audio engineers in each room to keep the show going. Offering WiFi throughout your conference? Bring a few network administrators along in the event that something crashes.
As far as guest speakers are concerned, a number of factors come into play, none of them directly related to the number of attendees. First and foremost, how long is your event running for? You’re going to need to consider your venue – how many presentation rooms do you have available to you? If you’ve several rooms in which to schedule speakers, you’re going to be able to hire on more than if you’ve just a single stage. Use your better judgment here.
It goes without saying that one of your highest priorities is keeping your guests safe. With that in mind, security is the one area you can never afford to skimp. As a general rule, you’ll want to have one security guard per hundred people for an indoor event. Depending on the size of the venue, you might need to have additional guards to cover entrances and exits; you’ll naturally need more guards for outdoor events. Ideally, you want to be sure you’ve enough guards to cover every sector of your event. For more complicated events, you might want as many as one security agent per fifty to seventy-five guests. Also consider upping the amount of security if you are serving alcohol at the event. Thankfully, this is generally something you can trust to a security organization to handle.
The marketing team is one group that you won’t need to spend a whole lot of time micro-managing, because ideally, you’re going to be hiring on an established marketing firm to do the job for you. How large this team needs to be depends on how much exposure you want and how many mediums you want to advertise in.
This is something you’re not really going to need to spend much time managing on your own: just be sure you hire a reputable catering agency and give them a suitable estimate of how many guests you’re expecting, and they should be perfectly capable of taking care of the rest.
Last, but certainly not least, you’ve got your vendors –who admittedly, aren’t technically a part of your events team so much as they’re simply part of your event, and not every event is going to have them. Vendors are one of the few elements on this list where the number of people attending your event is functionally irrelevant, all that matters is how much space you’ve got in the exhibition hall. Generally, you should try to divide the hall up into different sized ‘plots,’ each one no smaller than twenty-five square feet. The reason you’ll want to offer a few different ‘sizes’ is so you can offer a varied price range and attract a wide array of vendors, both large and small.
Running an event – particularly if you’re a novice event planner – can be one of the most daunting challenges you’re ever going to face, not in the least because you don’t necessarily have any experience regarding how large your event team should be. These rules of thumb – while certainly not implacable – can help you make an estimate as to how many people you need, and how much is ‘too much.’ From there, it’s all in your hands – and I’m certain you’re more than capable.
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As an event manager, you will have a lot on your plate. From setting and following a budget to selecting guest speakers, there won’t be much time to sit back and relax.