November 08, 2013

Tales From The Field: Life As An Entrance Manager

Not many event professionals get to experience a much broader range of environments than our UK Entrance Manager, Toby Dier. Between him tearing in and out of the office to and from different events, we managed to grab Toby and coerce him (non-violently) into sharing a few of his experiences.

What are Event Managers like on the day?

The planning aspect of an event is pretty stressful on its own, but nothing compares to the trials and tribulations you go through when the big day(s) finally arrives. High-pressure situations can do funny things to people, and we all have different ways of reacting to them.

One incident I’ll never forget is seeing an event manager genuinely lose it when she discovered all the bourbon biscuits had gone. That’s what back-to-back 16 hour days with 4am starts will do to you.

Equally, I worked on one festival with a guy who was just impossible to unsettle, despite all Mother Nature’s best efforts. The forecast was set to be a little wet and windy, but the weather that came in turned out to be so brutal that it collapsed one of the main tents and started to take its toll on the other. With amazing calm, the promoter simply took the damaged tents down, reworked the schedule to use the other stages and stayed open later – sorted.

You do meet a few characters though… All I’ll say is: ¾ length tweed suits, tails and lizard tongues.

What are your three golden rules for the entrance management aspect of events?

1. NEVER skimp on the entrance. Spend money on whatever’s needed to guarantee your customers get into your events quickly and safely. I’d always recommend using professional event staff rather than volunteers or friends if at all possible.

2. Beware of weather conditions. This might sound obvious for outdoor events, but even with indoor events the elements are always something to be aware of. Whether its wind, rain, sun or snow, cover at the entrance is always a great idea.

3. Always have the entrance prepared and ready for your staff. Plenty of power sockets and extension cables, Wi-Fi, staff and visitor fencing are just a few things to think about.

Tell us about the most well organised event you’ve ever witnessed…

Well, the best organised events are the ones where you don’t even think about how well organised it is, if that makes sense; you just don’t notice it because you’re too busy enjoying the event! But when you do my job, you’re always judging these things no matter what.

The winner for me has to be one year at Groezrock, an annual music festival held in Belgium. Just *everything* had been thought of, planned and executed to a T. Tech, staff, potential weather conditions, networking, power were all spot on and the entrance infrastructure was insane. Perfect example of how it should be done.


Thanks to Toby for sharing his wisdom – there’ll be more coming up from our resident experts over the coming months.

By Dominick Soar