What does an Event Operations Coordinator do?

Bringing together large numbers of people for a concert, convention, theatrical performance, fundraiser, or festival can be incredibly rewarding, but doing it right requires excellent research, planning, and coordination. Event operations coordinators take responsibility for every aspect of the events they manage, and ensure that people are talking about them for all the right reasons instead of the wrong ones—such as a poorly equipped venue, inadequate crowd control, or a dangerous incident. 
Good event operations employees have an uncanny ability to look into the future of a situation, see what could possibly go wrong, and plan for it.
When it comes to planning and executing a live event, event operations coordinators do it all: they scout locations and bring in missing equipment; contract with vendors for food, bathrooms, and other necessities; hire all event staff, including security; create and post necessary signage; work through logistics concerning the site and weather; and oversee cleanup afterwards. If licenses are needed, or if contracts contain curfew stipulations, event operations coordinators seek and maintain those orders—and when problems of any kind occur, it's their job to be on-site, managing the situation. Although their main responsibility is the logistics of events, in rare cases operations coordinators will take on some of the duties of concert/event producers, including booking talent and transportation and overseeing the rental and maintenance of audio and video equipment.

At a Glance

Career Path
Most event coordinators get their start in the field by organizing and staffing local and university events or volunteering for music festivals or conventions. This kind of early experience is the perfect qualification for entry-level positions in the operations staff, from where one can gain experience and progress to become a full-fledged coordinator. Event operations coordinators are usually qualified for jobs on the basis of their experience and track record rather than education, but a degree in hospitality or event management can speed things up.
Event coordinators whose events consistently go off with a hitch can build a strong reputation in the industry or work their way up a company ladder, becoming senior events associates or operations directors. Some go on to become concert/event producers, who have a more involved role in the artistic and technical planning of the performance. Others leave the concert/live event scene and apply the skills they've gained to other industries and organizations, becoming operations directors for theater companies, educational institutes, or museums.
Finding Work
Event operations coordinators usually work for independent event-planning companies, which may take on a variety of events as jobs or specialize in a particular variety, such as weddings, festivals, tours, or conventions. Event operations coordinators may also work in-house for companies that own and rent large event spaces, like fairgrounds, ballrooms, and event halls. Some event coordinators are fully freelance, but due to the high labor requirement in organizing live events it's much more common to pool resources in a company, however small.
Professional Skills
  • Event planning and management
  • Logistics/operations
  • Hiring
  • Budgeting
  • Negotiating
  • Contracts
  • Personnel management
  • Security
  • Communication
  • Problem solving
Interpersonal Skills

To say that this position requires attention to detail would be a gross understatement. For event operations coordinators, details are the job. Good event operations employees have an uncanny ability to look into the future of a situation, see what could possibly go wrong, and plan for it. They are cautious, intelligent, and hyperaware of potential problems, which is all to say that they have backup plans to their backup plans. They are also excellent multitaskers who are deeply concerned with efficiency and resource management.

Work Life

For events operations coordinators, life can be unpredictable. Their schedules vary widely depending on whether a large-scale event is coming up or already under way. Event coordinators are always on hand at the events they plan, troubleshooting issues as they arise. They are the first to arrive and the last to leave, setting up and staying late to ensure cleanup is completed, vendors are paid, and audience members are happy. Between events, they usually have more breathing room, and may only have minor administrative tasks to take care of until it's time to start on the next event. The job can require some travel, particularly for the best in the business, who are always in high demand.