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How to Run an Events Business

Find out what it takes to run an events business in South Africa!

Business tourism is vital to growing the country’s economy, and there is a strong demand for more events to be hosted across South Africa.

Whether you’re a conference coordinator or wedding planner, here are some all-round pointers to help you succeed.

Know your market

The event management industry has contributed just less than R75 billion to the economy, with the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) sub-sector attracting more than 11% of foreign visitors and investment into the country.

South Africa hosts approximately one million delegates at business events every year, supporting over 250,000 job opportunities in this segment alone. Business tourism and events have contributed an astounding R115 billion to the economy.

Wedding planning is also a lucrative side of the events industry; depending on the number of guests the average cost is around R100,000 - R210,000. Many couples are spending more money personalising their reception, which you can capitalise on. 

Organisation is key

All business owners need to be organised but to be a successful events planner timekeeping and preparation need to be handled with military precision. You should have a keen eye for detail and always stick to your client’s budget and deadlines.

Find an event management tool or app that will help boost efficiency among your team; research shows online software can increase productivity by 27%. Spend time comparing app features and choose a system that fits in with your business model.

Possessing the ability to delegate effectively and allocate responsibilities will also be a hugely important skill for any event planner. During an event, it’s best to allocate tasks by zone; staff should be responsible for their own zone throughout the event.

Have a back-up plan

A successful event planner will always be able to stay calm, even if things are going terribly wrong. You should have contingency plans in place and discuss these at length with your team prior to the event; this will also put your client's mind at ease. 

You should always visit the venue as early as possible and determine any potential issues. It is also good practise to build up a good relationship with the venue manager; they will be more likely to hire you or recommend you to their customers.

If something goes wrong with an event, such as the venue deciding to cancel last minute, it is your reputation and profitability on the line. Build up a list of contacts who you feel confident to call upon in case you need to use a contingency plan.

Build up contacts

Networking within any industry is always good practise, in the events sector it’s essential. Most of your business will come from repeat clients, for business events, or word-of-mouth recommendations from customers hosting personal celebrations.

Do you have an in-house team who work on all your events? Or do you hire staff through temp agencies? If the latter, you should keep track of which employees excelled on the day. Building up a valuable, dynamic workforce takes time and patience.

You should attend industry events and conferences and develop good relationships with different suppliers. Your reputation is everything in this industry, so don’t underestimate the importance of your clients; ask for their feedback after each event.

Krystena Griffin

About the author

Krystena Griffin writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other industry publications.