People with the right skill sets in organizing and planning are most likely to generate a great fortune from event management. Daily Trust on Sunday explores the business of event management and how it has become a profitable source of income to many Nigerians.

Planning is an integral part of our daily life. We love to plan so we can create harmony and order in our lives. The art of planning and coordinating has become a very lucrative source of income to many Nigerians. For every event held, whether formal or social, event planners are paid huge sums of money to make sure that those events come out successful.

Event planning is considered to be a very stressful and demanding role, as these planners are responsible for budgeting, coordination, food planning, sourcing of vendors, deciding event location, coordinating transportation etc. The event planner is held responsible for the success or failure of any event.

Sandra Chinwe Henry, who is a project coordinator and event planner based in Abuja spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday. She runs an event management and lifestyle business called Drachi brand. Sandra has co-ordinated events for high profile persons such as Tonto Dikeh, Dbanj, President Goodluck Jonathan, etc. She has been in event planning since she was 16 as an apprentice under another event management company. She established her brand in 2010.

“Right from when I was a child, I always had a knack for organisation and planning. I love to make sure that things are in place and activities go according to plan. That was what pushed me into event planning as a business.”

When sourcing vendors for events, Sandra prefers to work with professionals who pay attention to details, who are keen about their job and who also deliver on time. “Choosing the team is always one of the hardest because I have my criteria list and if you don’t fall under any, I can’t work with you, especially people who lack attention to detail and cannot work in teams,” she said.

While discussing the issue of preparing and managing the budget for her clients, Sandra believes in giving her client the best regardless of their budget. “Every event has its own requirement. However, when planning budgets for an event, I always try to make sure that we can deliver the best of services regardless of the budget that my clients can afford. My aim is to work with every social class, not just the high-profile persons.”

Sandra doesn’t have a fixed service charge fee for her clients because according to her, all events have different requirements. She charges in line with how extravagant and bold her client is willing to go. “The average we charge for an event is N8 million, but that doesn’t only belong to me. I will also pay for the vendors who will cater to the event. The lowest I’ve ever charged was N150,000 and that was a photoshoot for a hair brand.”

Often times in event planning, things may not go according to plan but for Sandra, she believes that every problem has a solution. She doesn’t believe in dealing with last-minute setbacks because as a professional planner, she also plans for setbacks that may occur and always has her solutions ready. “I like to see myself as a fixer and solution provider. I have insights into what every vendor is working on just in case they’re not performing well, I can step in and deliver the job. To know if your event is successful or not, it’s important to always get reviews from clients after the event so you know on what areas to improve on.

“Most times, clients will always tell you about what they liked most about the event. For me, I focus more on what they didn’t like, it could be something small for them, but it will be of great importance to me and help me improve on my craft” she said.

She also said when dealing with clients, she tries to maintain healthy relationships with all her clients in order to keep the door open for more job opportunities.

As a professional planner with 11 years of experience, Sandra can juggle up to 4 or more events, however, she stated that the art of prioritizing helps her a lot. Her most memorable event was planning fascinating Nigeria in 2013 and the launch of the Centenary City under the Goodluck Jonathan regime in 2014. Sandra expresses joy and passion about the job and because of that doesn’t have a preferred event she enjoys planning.

Nadia Rasheedah Raji is another Nigerian event planner but based in Ghana. She told Daily Trust on Sunday that her passion for event planning grew when she worked an assistant to the CEO of Let’s be Seated – a leading event management firm in Ghana. She spent two years working and understudying the business. Nadia now owns her own brand called Wow’d impressions and specialises in event planning and designing.

Unlike Sandra, who covers a wide spread of events, Nadia focuses on planning weddings. “I love planning weddings and the experience of bringing two families together is always a beautiful sight to behold,” she said.

When working on a budget for her events, she tries to manage her client’s budget by making sure that all vendors sourced and services being offered are within the price range and value of the budget. “It doesn’t matter what the budget is, the aim is to deliver the standard quality of service,” she said.

Nadia sources for her vendors through an event professional platform and often times Instagram. She also doesn’t have a standard service charge fee because her fees depend on the scope of work for the event. Nonetheless, her average service charge fee to organize an event is $2000. Nadia practices a cancellation and refund policy with clients who may disagree with her work or ideas or not want to carry on with their event.

“The initial deposit is usually non-refundable. Eighty per cent of your full payment is refunded when you cancel within an acceptable time frame. Last-minute cancellations attract a penalty fee and your refund is subject to the availability of funds remaining from productions and preparations that would have already begun,” she explained.

To measure the success of her events, Nadia relies on feedback from clients, guest and looks out for overall ambience and reactions at the event. She however says the job can take a toll on her and in those moments, she reminds herself to take deep breaths and also whisper words of prayer.

For Nadia, a maximum of four events is what she can handle in a day. Setbacks are unavoidable when planning an event, however, Nadia believes in always being ready to adapt and think outside the box to accommodate any necessary changes due to the setbacks. “Regardless of what happens, the show must definitely go on,” she said.

In event planning, it is not easy having to deal with people’s needs and making sure that they are delivered just as requested, so Nadia regards herself as a service provider and when dealing with her clients, she tries her absolute best to contain her emotions and refrain from exhibiting negative reactions that she may regret later. “We always try to operate using our terms and conditions agreement before proceedings between us and clients,” she said.

Nadia recalls her most successful event to be a three-day programmed wedding in Accra which took place in different locations and hosted 700 guests including Sunny Ade, Shattawale etc. With every job comes it challenges, Nadia mentions that sometimes clients can be a bit uncertain with what they want and often times she might have to chase clients for payments.

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