The corporate market is the main one to focus on because they have the budgets to spend, notes Pettit. A lot of revenue will be commission-based, so the more extras you can bolt on to an event, the more commissions you will earn.
"Booking the venue is our bread and butter, for which we earn a basic commission usually ranging from 8-10% plus VAT," says Turner. You can then earn extra for organising the sundries, such as lighting, catering and entertainment, though all bar takings go to the venue. When dealing with suppliers with whom Turner has a more established relationship, she may get a fee, rather than work on set commission rates.
If booking a hotel for a conference or meeting, with no entertainment involved, Aspect Event Management also earns a commission of about 8%, which requires little work. When entertainment is included the company charges a set fee. The fee depends on how many staff are required to run the event, the hours of work involved in organising it and how difficult it is to do.
"We charge a flat fee for most add-ons, such as catering, rather than put a mark-up on the suppliers' charges, as it can significantly increase the per head cost to the customer and we need to make sure we are giving value for money," says Withers.
Event management is a seasonal business, so income will run in peaks and troughs through the year. As Brewster warns, cash flow can be one of the biggest pitfalls. September through to January is the busiest, when companies are organising conferences and Christmas parties.
Heirs & Graces takes on part-time staff when it gets busy, especially at Christmas, so that it can handle more events while demand is high. February and March are often quiet, as are July and August when many employees are on holiday, although corporate fun days can offset the dearth of conferences organised in the summer.
"At the moment I'm probably earning less than I ever have done before," says Turner, "but I wanted to do something for myself and with this business I've been able to take the risk without committing a lot of money to it." So if you are keen for a new challenge, perhaps this could be just the turn of events you've been looking for.