Creative Problem-Solving and Innovation: The Life of an Event Project Manager

event project manager

If you described the role of an event project manager as “busy,” you may just win the award for Understatement of the Year. “Busy” doesn’t even scratch the surface.

Now, if you were to say, “put more than a full day, working through lunch, back to back meetings and calls and forgot to use the restroom at a few points,” you might be getting closer to the mark.

And that’s just in the office. Once you get onsite – you must take a deep breath before you even think about those incredibly long days.

Even with all that in mind, there are many crazy people—people just like Vince D’Aprile—who love  what they do and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

“The most rewarding thing about my job is helping others turn their vision into a living, breathing event,” said Vince. “People in our industry are so passionate about what they create. Helping them turn these ideas into real-life experiences only energizes them more, and that energy is contagious and can be felt by so many.”

Embarking on a New Adventure

As an event project manager, Vince is responsible for operations of registration, housing and other services. His role and the industry have evolved greatly since he started 20 years ago.

At that time, Vince never thought much about the meetings and events industry until he saw a wanted ad in the newspaper.

“Despite a background as a travel agent and some hotel management courses in college,” he said, “I’d never thought about event management until I saw an ad promoting the travel, experience and interaction of the events industry, and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a perfect fit!’”

Since travel was (and still is) one of his greatest passions, the demand of continuous jet-setting to events all over the country was a crucial selling point.

Not only did it offer him new opportunities to take in the sights and sounds of new cities, it opened a world of new possibilities for his career.

event project manager

On the Road Again

It’s good that he enjoys the travel, because Vince works with a lot of events that need him at his best onsite.

At his largest shows (anywhere from 30,000-75,000 participants), he is in his element as an event project manager.

Here he oversees the execution of registration, lead retrieval and housing onsite. This usually means working in the busiest registration desks during peak times, troubleshooting issues that arise with systems, supplies, staff, etc.,

He will monitor the registration areas and assist with attendee traffic, making any layout or process changes to help things flow smoothly.

Finally, he’ll check in with clients, ensuring they are happy with the execution, better understanding the event and the behavior and nature of its attendees and exhibitors.

Face-to-face time is crucial to the relationship: it allows him to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t from the original event plan to help formulate improvements and suggestions for the next one.

For his smaller events, he’ll go onsite in a specific support role.

“This means I have to take off my project manager hat a little and be stationed in a specific area doing a specific task, like managing a registration desk,” Vince said. “It’s a great way to get onsite, see the event, monitor how things are going and get a little face time with the client while helping to support the company’s onsite staffing needs.”

event project manager

Back in the Office—Where It’s Just as Busy

When Vince is in the Frederick, Maryland office, his days consist of a lot of meetings.

“Fortunately, I love talking with everyone,” he says.

He has client meetings and calls to discuss their events, weekly status meetings with internal project teams, strategic calls with account managers to help them plan proposals and renewals, as well as meetings with respective project team members and a slew of developers and specialists to help implement changes, projects and special requests that clients bring up through the event cycle.

Clients like to call him when they uncover new challenges, waiting to see how he and his team can magically solve them.

He helps enhance registration websites, oversees supply orders, helps housing teams manage their blocks, and monitors labor hours and project efficiency for each event.

Vince is literally a jack of all trades and master of many. After two decades, he’s done a lot to gain the respect and admiration of his peers.

It’s because he’s so well liked that he’s able to get the most from his people and coworkers.

To keep Experient moving forward, Vince constantly asks team members what new ideas they have and how to improve processes or better align with a client’s goals.

His rapport with clients helps him explore their organizational objective—beyond the event—to understand how it advances their overall mission.

“That deeper discovery helps a client shape the event closer to their vision, and the closer the alignment, the greater the pride in ownership for everyone involved,” Vince said. “Being onsite and seeing both the client’s pride in their event and our team’s pride in their accomplishment is what’s kept me here for 20 years.”

event project manager

It’s All About People

The best piece of professional advice Vince has received actually came from his mother when he was a teenager.

“She said, ‘The person you step on today may be the person you need to impress tomorrow.’”

In an ever-changing industry, where people are always on the move and popping back up with different associations, vendors and properties, that advice has served Vince well—especially as those same people become important decision makers in the industry.

“If you work to support everyone and make a positive impression,” he said, “instead of stepping on others to get ahead, people will remember you fondly and look forward to working with you again.”

This is How We Meet brings to life the many important roles in the meetings and events industry through the story of someone who lives it. Is there a job you want to hear more about? Let us know.

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