Several sources stated that the phrase once in a lifetime was first recorded in 1854, and can mean an event or opportunity that literally will not be repeated within one’s lifetime, or more usually, is an exaggeration that refers to an event or opportunity that happens very infrequently.
Once in a lifetime, or some may say once in a blue-moon are both idioms which refers to an experience or an event which is very special, usual or rare.
In event management, the term ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ is used to refer to a specific group of special or unique events. It is believed that one of the most important things about event is that it is often a highlight of a person’s life. This is not to be taken lightly. Special events could be seen in the form of a significant birthday, a wedding, a graduation or a christening, they are so important to the main participants that nothing must go wrong. If something does go wrong, it cannot always be easily rectified. You simply cannot afford to see the bride crying over a horrible incident that ruined her wedding dress or a guest who gets food positioned at her wedding and on her wedding day. The offer to ‘come back again at our expense’ just doesn’t work! Therefore, it is crucial that event manager/planner takes responsibility for ensuring that the event, regardless of the size, is a success, as there is often only one chance to get it right (*).
Speaking about Special Events, what are they exactly?
Special events is a very broad umbrella term used to describe non-corporate and non-trade events. The special events sector of the industry broadly consists of private events, sporting events, public events, and fairs & festivals. They are considered ‘special’ events because they are outside of the host’s normal business, program, or activity (**)
Special events are generally hospitality or entertainment-based, and are therefore of a social, rather than business, nature. That’s not to say they don’t still have business objectives; while some are purely celebratory, many are held for the purpose of marketing, advertising, promotion, and sales.
As such, the four main categories encompass many different types of events—some of which make up entire sub-sectors of the event industry in their own right, such as brand marketing or fundraising events.
While many special events can be classed in more than one category, ultimately, an event should be defined by its primary purpose, rather than just its format.
Do events even have characteristics?
The answer is Yes they do! You maybe able to define whether the event is special/once-in-a-life-time based on the following characteristics (***):
-They are often ‘one in a life time’ experiences for the participants
-They are generally expensive to stage
-They usually take place over a short time span
-They require careful planning
-They often take place once only. (However, many events are held annually, often at the same period of the year)
-They carry a high level of risk, including financial and safety risk
There is often a lot at stake for those involved, including the event management team.
It is important to emphasize that everyone who involves in every stage of the event is a performance, whether they are an athlete or an entertainer or a technician or a security guard, all want to deliver their best performance. A bride only wants the day to be perfect in everyway. A birthday girl may just want to have lots of Hello Kitty Balloons at her party. Someone might want to see the world on their graduation day but not that particular cousin to attend. The marketing and design team just want to see their product visibility in the best possible lighting and images.
What events that you have got to experience that makes you think that they are so special? Do you think weddings are a type of once-in-a-lifetime event?
(*) (***) – Event Management: For Tourism, Cultural, Business and Sporting Events – 5th Edition (2018)