From Psychedelic Trance Parties to World Festivals and Exhibitions that Attract Hundreds of Thousand

A True Story of Event Management

I can remember my first events… Back then, I was only 17 years old. I have started promoting Psychedelic Trance parties in the squats of Ghent (Belgium). A squat is an abandoned building that the landlord doesn’t give a f*** about or that’s no longer in a state fit for normal use and is waiting for the administrators to make a decision regarding its future. At the beginning of 2000, we had lots of squads in Ghent. People took the opportunity to create cheap places to live and some of these buildings were also used to promote underground cultural events. We were really lucky because the Belgium authorities were fairly tolerant and respected the law.

It is easy and very tempting, indeed, to start immediately with the event management, but it is wiser to do some thorough homework first. Once an event is running, it can be extremely difficult to change or adapt something. Considering the limited time factor, the sharp deadline, the coordination of so many participants is a very challenging thing. Most of the time you will not get a second chance and it should be a hit from the start. It took me some time to discover that Murphy’s Law is constantly lurking: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. If you take your time to prepare the event to perfection, you will limit the chance of surprises and risks such as the event losing its purpose or having the budget spiral out of control. Not considering these factors at the beginning of the event planning may lead to failure and will affect the mood of the entire crew. It’s funny when I recall the days when our crew was spending their entire time at the event solving issues that we could easily have predicted by doing our homework.

Most of the time, the electricity at the events came from a generator. I can remember many occasions where we had to search for a driver that was sober (or at least half sober) to get fuel. One time we had to send a driver that had taken LSD. Three hours later he returned with the fuel from a petrol station that was only a 15 min drive away with a story of how psychedelic / trippy the road was. At that time, we didn’t have credit cards because we were too young. So, we started checking where we could pay cash. I remember that there were 2 petrol stations in the entire city and one of them was on the motorway. This issue could have easily been dealt with by doing our homework properly before the event.

The reason I am publishing the following articles on LinkedIn is to explain the basic principles needed to create a successful event and how to become an Event Manager. Also, I want to share a few examples from my own experience. I learned this job the hard way; from the beginning, I organised events with my own money and I never worked for a company that I didn’t own. Unfortunately, I was my own mentor. Now, when I look back at this period, I see the mistakes that could have been avoided if I had had an experienced mentor beside me.

Event Management was not offered in any schools in Belgium until 2008. Over the last 15 years, I was privileged to host some great events and learned immensely valuable lessons from the decisions made and mistakes that occurred. When working in this industry you learn something new from every event. To become a great Event Manager, it will take time. It is one of those jobs that is best learned by doing it.

In a way, many of the abilities and skills related to event management are aligned with the project management because after all, an event is a project. Communication; negotiation; planning; time schedule, budget and crisis management; coordinating different teams are just some skills that you will need to use during each event. The Event Manager has to overview the entire event from the finances to its execution. It is also important to have perfect communication skills in order to coordinate all the participants in the event – graphic designers, sound-, light-, catering companies, etc…

In the beginning, I was purely focused only on parties, but gradually I developed my skills by being the project manager of festivals and eventually being a Festival Director. Throughout this evolution, I have discovered that there are many different types of events. The most famous nowadays are concerts, dance parties and festivals because these events spend a huge amount of their budget on marketing to attract visitors. The basic idea is that the entrance fee that each visitor pays covers a significant part of the organisational budget. This is also one of the biggest reasons why you will see billboards, posters, flyers, TV commercials, etc., used to promote such kind of events. Maybe it will surprise you, but this is actually a really small segment of the event industry. The largest part is made up of conferences, fairs, team building activities, staff parties, product launches, weddings and sporting events.

In the last 10 years, I have observed a trend where events have started to be used for communication and marketing mix strategies. Companies have realised that an event is a useful communication tool that creates a direct contact and experience with potential clients. It also has a far greater marketing impact for products and brands than a street based campaign using billboards & posters. The personal approach to the target client group of a product is much easier to be achieved and can create unique emotions. As humans, we have developed a feeling that’s no longer so sensitive to the many kinds of visual adverts. Companies all over the world have realised that an event experience is a powerful marketing tool.

Over the last 30 to 40 years we have been regularly confronted with all kinds of branded adverts. I will give some examples. You wake up and you start to listen to the radio or watch TV, you get some adverts. You open your Facebook or Instagram you will be exposed to adverts again and after you check your inbox, you’ll almost certainly find some promotional emails. On your way to your work, you will be exposed to many more adverts from street billboards & posters. Still, it takes time for the audience or potential clients to get to know your brand name, your offer and your message. I am a really big fan of the Rule of Seven that says that somebody should hear or see the marketing message at least seven times before they remember it. This rule still works when you have a wide variation in your marketing strategy. After all these years I am more than convinced that events can play a big role in the rule of seven.

The author of the article is Sir Firoiu Dan. He has extensive experience in all aspects of Communication-, Marketing-, Accounting Management, Event Coordination and Budget Coordination. He is specialized in the management of administration and logistics in a busy special environment. Passionate for marketing strategies, brand development and event coordination, while consistently providing outstanding customer service. Enthusiastic professional, successfully building profitable relationships with new and existing clients.

You can contact him at any time at