ea is a young event professional who seems to thrive on organizing various events.
She is always on the go and always handling a couple of projects at once, all while maintaining an incredibly positive attitude toward her work and everyone surrounding her. She is smart, friendly and very quick to think on her feet. A typical event manager, if we’ve ever seen one!
Lea studies communication management at Edward Bernays College of Communication Management in Zagreb, Croatia. She is a junior event manager with 5 years of experience in the event management industry. She works at AB Sport Consulting and is already working hard preparing for SportFest 2018.
For the most recent major event she has organized together with her team, Lea used our social media wall – Wallery – to engage the visitors and promote the exhibitors and the agenda.
We caught up with her after SportFest 2017 to talk about her experiences organizing various events, SportFest 2017 and about her experience with Wallery.
Hello Lea! Thanks for finding the time to sit down and talk to us. We know you are a busy bee so we really appreciate it! Let’s dive right in. Tell us a bit about the last event you organized.
No problem! The most recent event I’ve organized is SportFest 2017 – the first ever SportFest organized in Croatia. We’ve organized a similar but smaller event last year – Football Fest – and it was a big hit! Football Fest attracted over 16.000 visitors so we knew right away that there is an interest for this type of an event here in Croatia.
We listened to the needs and wishes of the sponsors, exhibitors, and the visitors and managed to assemble the entire sports industry in one place – during the four days of SportFest 2017.
We gathered over 60 different sports federations which presented their sports and activities. There were also various conferences where different sport-related themes were covered (Life after a sports career, Self-sponsorships, Sports medicine, Female sports…) and many of the biggest Croatian athletes were there to participate. Dubravko Šimenc, Nikola Dudaš, Klaudija Bubalo, Marija Anzulović, to name a few!
Impressive! What goes into organizing such a large event?
Oh, many things! Primarily, you need to have a good team around you and enough people working on the project.
Everyone needs to have a lot of patience and be willing to give up your free time to pull through in those last few months before the event.
Another important thing is to divide the workload. If the entire team is working on a single task – it won’t turn out well. Divide the task between the team members.
It’s also important to find the right sponsors, who will cover the early expenses.
Also, be aware of what you, your time, and your effort are worth. I am saying this because you will need to decide on the prices of tickets for your event, as well as the prices for participating for the exhibitors.
If you don’t believe in your event, how can you expect anyone else to believe in it?
What else…? A year of thinking ahead.
Events don’t happen overnight. SportFest 2017 was the first such event in Europe because we gathered the sports federations and various exhibitors in one place and they all had a chance to present their sports and programs to our event visitors.
The main goal was to have the entire sports industry in one place and all of this took a lot of planning ahead.
Why have you chosen to do go ahead and do that?
Because we wanted the people who are currently not doing sports or are not that well informed about sports, and the kids who never tried any sports before to find out everything they might want to know about different sports.
We wanted to promote less-known sports and clubs, such as the Croatian Flying Disc Association, for instance. It’s a popular sport in the USA but in Croatia, it is not very well known. Same goes for bodybuilding or cheerleading, aikido, and iaidō… Sports some of the visitors may have never even heard of before coming to SportFest.
The goal was to have everything in one place – we wanted Zagreb to become the center of the sport industry.
You mentioned that it is important to find good sponsors for your event. What makes a good sponsor?
A good sponsor is the one who doesn’t pull out of the deal a couple of weeks before the event. (Laughs)
Find sponsors who are in the same industry, sponsors who are directly tied to what you are doing, and preferably, have a good social media following! This way, you are getting extra promotion opportunities for your event. Your sponsors can share your social media posts and you can share theirs – and you will both reach a wider audience than you would have on your own.
If you’re not sure where to start, look for sponsors who have already sponsored a similar event.
Also, be aware that your sponsors will represent your brand through their name. This is very important if you’re starting off with a brand new event and don’t have any clout of your own.
What inspired you to become an event organizer?
I worked as a volunteer for a Heineken event back in 2013. It was a rather small event, the preparations for it took only 2 weeks!
All the rush and excitement of organizing that event made me fall in love with the entire process.
Come to think of it, I was always the one organizing birthday parties for my friends back in school. I guess even then I enjoyed being the driving force behind a fun event. (Laughs)
What piece of advice would you like to share with other junior event organizers?
Find a good team you really love working with. Definitely, the team is everything. Having a bad team or a bad boss is going to ruin your drive to work.
A good team will want to see you succeed and the project to succeed. You will all work together as one.
You also need to remember to communicate with your team. Communication is important. You need to know everything about your team members so that you don’t waste any time on coordinating. The better you know each other, the more efficient you will be as a team.
Start off with smaller events. If you learn you can take the stress of organizing a smaller event, work toward working on bigger ones. Definitely, do not throw yourself into organizing a big regional event without the prior experience because you’re just putting yourself in harm’s way that way.
You used Wallery at Sportfest 2017. What would you say is your favorite thing about Wallery?
The ease of use!
It’s very easy to understand what you have to do in order for the posts to appear on the wall.
The moderation interface is so simple and easy and you can moderate from your phone, which is fantastic for an event manager who will always be running around.
I love that I have full control over moderation and can decide which posts are OK to show on the wall.
Also, I really love the design and that I can upload my own photos to the background (and change them in the middle of the event!) and that doing all of this is so easy.
How did your event guests react to Wallery?
Oh, the younger audiences were loving it. They kept finding us to ask when their posts will be on the wall. Then I’d have to log into the moderation and approve their posts right away. (Laughs)
The sponsors kept asking about it and using it to promote themselves, which was of great value for them.
What would you say is the most important thing Wallery has added to your event?
The exhibitors kept posting to show up on the social media wall so that the visitors would see their posts and know to go and find them.
We had a very big venue so it was easy to miss an exhibitor if you didn’t know to look for them. Wallery helped the exhibitors gain more exposure and traction to their booths.
Tell us a bit about your future plans regarding event management.
Glad you asked! I’m planning to start my own event organizing company and will continue organizing events. I plan to have Wallery on every event I organize from now on!
I also want to teach young people what events really are. Teaching them about the background, the many months of work that go into an event before the event day… I noticed that many people don’t really know how long and boring some parts of the entire process are.
For example, for SportFest we had to put together a database of all the stores in Croatia who sell sports equipment and accessories because we wanted to reach out and ask them whether they would like to participate at our event as exhibitors.
There are over 3.000 in Croatia alone!
The entire process took us 2 months. It’s not a glamorous part of the job but it’s important. It might be boring but it’s part of the job.
Being an event professional is stressful. How do you take care of your health? How do you unwind and keep yourself sane?
Dancing. I am a dance instructor and I love it because I forget everything when I dance.
Equally important are full two days of rest after any major event. Being able to unwind and relax both mentally and physically is important.
Don’t think or do anything other than maybe binge on that TV show you haven’t had a chance to watch for months because you were too busy.
Oh, and chocolate!