What does an on site event manager do: The Complete Guide

Oftentimes clients ask me what an on-site manager does at an event. Other times I get asked about the difference between an on-site manager and an event coordinator/planner.

While our end goal is always the same (to keep our client happy), a coordinator and a venue manager specialize in two very different aspects of your event. An on-site location manager's job is to focus on the property, and your coordinator should focus on you!  You should never have one without the other, because you will sacrifice the quality and overall success of your event.

A coordinator’s job is to assist you, their client, with everything from hiring your vendors, negotiating contracts, planning your itinerary, seating arrangements, décor, managing your budget, and ensure that your event runs as smoothly as possible.  This is just the tip of the iceberg, as there are many other responsibilities of a planner.

Just as your coordinator is there to represent you, a location manager is there to represent the venue.

If the venue happens to be a private home, like the ones that we manage here at Estate Weddings and Events, we are there on behalf of the homeowner.  We represent the home like it is our own.

We know all the city rules regarding hosting an event at the property.  We make sure that vendors understand the rules including which areas they will have access to, and handle all issues that a venue may face.  A venue manager isn’t there to help you set up your escort cards or tell you when to start walking down the aisle, but they are there for a multitude of very important reasons which I will elaborate below.

What Does An On-Site Event Venue Manager Do?

To illustrate an on-site manager's importance, here is a sample day in the life of a location manager at Estate Weddings and Events.

In the morning, on the day of the event (wedding), the manager arrives early before any vendors or clients arrive to do a walkthrough of the event space.  Since the estate was cleaned prior to the event, it will be easy to survey the property and make note of any damages.  They will take pictures of the property and compare these to past event photos.

They will set up all restrooms with the provided amenities.  They will post signs throughout the venue, guiding guests to the restrooms.  They will also set up the bridal suite for a wedding (often with a bottle of champagne and glassware for the bridal party).

Vendors start to arrive at 10am, so the manager is there to open up the property gates and regulate which vehicles can drive on which areas of the property and when. The manager has already done a walkthrough with the vendors on an earlier date, so that they understand the schedule and what they are and aren't allowed to do on the property.  The manager will reinforce these rules again and will oversee the set up and answer any questions from the vendors.  They make sure that each vendor that steps foot on the property is insured and have signed the venue's vendor agreement.

You might have to remind the vendor setting up your dance floor that they need to put down moving blankets on the lawn first.  Or make sure furniture is lifted, not dragged across the property.

Your manager will be able to let you know if you may need a generator at the venue, or if there is enough power at the property for your band and market lighting.  They will be able to assist with any catering or bar questions, like if they can use the oven in the house, or store items in the refrigerator.

These are just a few of the common questions an on site manager may face, and should be addressed before the event takes place.

In the early afternoon, everything will start coming together.  The manager works with the coordinator to see that the dining tables, cocktail tables, bar, etc. are arranged according to the planner’s diagram.  Oftentimes the table arrangements may need some slight adjustments once set up, so the coordinator and the venue manager will work together to come up with a solution to any layout issues.

When the catering and bar service arrive, the manager will make sure that the property is protected the way the homeowner has specified.  The caterer and bar may have to put down tarps and drop cloths below all their equipment.  Protective mats may be needed for the countertops if the kitchen is used.

Once guests start arriving, the real fun begins!

While the coordinator may be organizing the bridal party for the ceremony, this is prime time to make sure everything is set up at the property before the ceremony starts.  The manager will assign tasks to the venue staff, making sure everything is ready for the event.

Once the party has begun, responsibilities of the event staff include anything from monitoring and restocking the bathrooms to cleaning up any spills. A manager may need to put coasters under guests glassware if they are using the homeowner's furniture, or may have to remind smoking guests to use the ashtray provided.  They might remind the florist to remove all the rose petals lining the aisle of the ceremony, to make sure they don't get crushed into the lawn or flooring.

The manager will also put out any “fires” that come up regarding the venue and vendors.

We’ve seen it all.  Tree branches getting knocked down from vendor trucks, oil spilt on the driveway from a leaking vehicle, red wine stains, caterers leaving behind bags and bags of trash, clogged toilets, power issues, and more.  These are a few of the many issues that a manager may face each event.

Toward the end of the event, the on-site manager will make sure that the DJ or band ends their set by the time specified by city noise regulations (often at 10pm).

When the event has finished, and all guests have left, the manager will open up the gates for the vendors to start packing up their items.   Trucks may have to wait their turn to use the driveway, so it is essential that they have a plan to have everything packed up and ready to go when it is their turn.

An on-site manager will make sure that every vendor leaves with everything they are responsible for.  The vendors must check out with the manager at the end of the night to be sure they cleaned up their belongings, removed all trash, and leave the property before the end of the rental period.

The manager will walk through the entire property and take pictures and document any changes or damages from the event.   They will be the last person at the property and will lock up the house after the event.

A professional cleaning staff is brought in the morning following the event to clean the estate, so when the homeowner arrives home later, they come home to a spotless home.

After the event the manager takes care of any outstanding vendor issues.  If there were any damages, they will assess them and handle all insurance claims to get the homeowner reimbursed.  This may come out of the client's security deposit or vendor if they are at fault.

Final Thoughts

Your venue is one of the most important parts of any event.  An on site location manager will work diligently to ensure that your event is a success.

We have managed countless events and know everything there is to know about our locations.  We are the experts, so you don't have to be!

If you choose a venue or rent a space that does not have an on site manager, please consider hiring one.  A coordinator knows their job inside and out, but may not have the same expertise as a venue manager.  Let a coordinator take care of you, and your manager take care of your venue.

Without a venue manager, if your vendors don't have enough direction, they can damage the property and cause you to lose some of your security deposit.  A manager can protect you from this and worse.  For example, if you aren't well versed with city laws and the restrictions of your venue, you can have your event shut down by the police for not following the law.  No one wants these things to happen of course, so hire an expert!

It will give you peace of mind, and a wonderfully successful event!