Events Planning… Celebrating People, Making A Good Living

eventWHILE big companies are getting high profile contracts to organise political campaigns, religious retreats and other events that require huge budgets and managing large crowd, the upcoming planners are handling events such as children’s birthday, school inter-house sports, marriages and, sometimes, church décor.

According to Yinka Owoseni, who has been in the business for over a decade, event planning is complex business and no individual company can effectively handle all the components, which allows for some of the jobs to be subcontracted.

“My outfit handles food or any aspect of culinary business. In the food aspect, I still do subcontracting, because I cannot handle all the aspects. And whenever there is a contract, which does come sometimes, thrice a week, I do limit myself to areas I could effectively handle. It is a huge business that can accommodate all.

“I have 15 casual staff, but the number to engage for a particular job depends on the size and nature of the event. I sometimes engage up to 20 or more casuals if it is a big event, especially those holding in an open space. I do this to be able to keep all my property safe from the area boys,” she said.

Having such number of causals entail coughing out more money for wages and other allowances. Does she really make enough to maintain such number? “Yes, I do; I pay workers N4,000 to N8,000 daily depending on the distance of the event. If it is in Lagos, I pay less, but more if the event is happening outside Lagos State. I have gone to Imo, Abia and Kaduna States with my workers to help out with events.

“The business brings in huge income because most people celebrating one thing or the other would prefer to pay planners to settle all contingencies and relax to have their fun; they do not want to be troubled. So, they provide enough money to buy all that is needed. And being what we are used to, we often go to places where the items needed are sold cheaper, which means making extra gains.

“I charge based on the event, who is involved, what he/she wants, where the event is taking place and I have not been disappointed. Aside from the money I make on each event, I do always have lots of dry stocks and cooked stuff to last for days,” she revealed.

For Femi Onikoyi, event planning is organising the cameramen both still and moving, to give the celebrant and his/her guests a memorable time.

“I get invitations to cover different shows within and outside Lagos. And the price for studio shots is different from the coloured wait-and-get pictures we give to people at parties. After settling the area boys, who may waylay us, I sometime make up to N10,000 and more in one event. On a good day, we attend two events and if one is fast could make twice or thrice that amount.

“The secret behind it is that people would always want to take the memory of the day away with them and would be ready to pay to have their pictures taken. Mind you such pictures are not like studio pictures where you have the privilege to go back for a retake; event pictures have no retakes because the people might not be able to come together again. It is this we leverage on to make our profit,” he said.

Apart from roving from place to place taking pictures, Onikoyi is also into video coverage. Whenever he is not handling his video camera, he would be at events shooting personalities who can give him well.

“Four boys work for me and they get between N2,000 to N4,000 per event. While the boys handle the video camera, I handle the still camera or go elsewhere to hustle.

“The highest I have ever made taking pictures in an event is N30,000, while video coverage gives me between N35,000 to N50,000, and sometime less, depending on who is involved.

“On the whole, I look forward to Saturdays and Sundays because these are the days I make good money. After paying my boys, I do have N40,000 to N50,000 for myself every week,” he revealed.

While some people are providing food and pictures to tell the various stories of the day, Lola and Michael are going from one primary school to the other organising end of session parties and providing comic characters to entertain children during their birthday celebrations.

“Children love having fun, they want to laugh and enjoy themselves, which are what their parents cannot provide. We do that and get paid for it. We handle school parties, provide music, compere, photographers and sometimes, the canopies and chairs if the event is holding in an open space.

“We provide the music, mickey mouse and other animal characters that amuse the children. I have been in this business for 15 years and it is through it that I pay my bills. Apart from organising school parties, we also help out with children’s birthday parties or any youth event,” Michael said.

Leveraging on the different aspects of the event planning business, Sade Afolabi, who is into interior décor, said the economy cannot be quantified, because it covers all aspects and provides jobs for the youth.

Disclosing the area she majored in Afolabi revealed that decorating an event centre is tasking, as she does not only go looking for the colours, she has to think of the right colour to match each event and the religious inclination of the client and, probably, the guests.

“You just have to understand the psychology of colours and the effect on guests and the event. While plum, lemon, purple go well with most ladies, the reverse is the case with men and you just have to do things to satisfy your clients. Just as some religious sect do not tolerate red and black colours, some make it their preferred colours; all these one must note and not assume everybody tolerates colours the same way.

“ Beside the hall dressing aspect, I also help procure souvenirs, which is another hard area, because one has to partner with the designers to come out with something creative to keep one in the business,” she said.

On what one needs to be part of the business, Afolabi said: “you have to be creative, mix with people and be willing to learn new things. The business is not all about money, but the right attitude to learn new things. I started off without capital; in fact, my first job was to dress a church altar, the church paid me upfront. Though, the gain was small, it was from that job I got the contract that launched me. So, it boils down to one’s attitude and the ability to render services; if possible at first for free.”

What It Takes To Survive In Events Planning Business
• Give attention to details, because your impression counts and could serve as a lead.
• Know the why, who, when, what of the event because this will guide your budget and design of the hall, if you are in charge of the décor.
• Work within the budget and try never to go back to the organiser for more money, as this could put one’s integrity.
• Always be mindful of the post event; in fact, handle it as the main event. Never be in a hurry to close the deal, as it could fetch you another.
• Let your staff wear nice, but identical clothes that would differentiate them from the guests.

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