Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Leisure as work

Leisure management covers a whole gamut of jobs like event management, resort management, hoteliering, restaurant management, disc jockeying and others, writes Usha Albuquerque

The phrase ‘leisure management’ immediately conjures up images of ‘free time’, ‘relaxation’, ‘fun and frolic’ in our minds. It means time away from the tension of our jobs and daily routine, just time to indulge ourselves, doing whatever we please. But today, on this rather idle-sounding concept rests an entire industry. And professionals have to work very hard to ensure that you, the customer, have a good time relaxing or partying. The leisure management industry is, in fact, very vast and one that is expanding day by day.

What it entails

Leisure management could be taken as a broad title, encompassing a whole range of other industries, including not just managing of leisure activities, but also event management, resort management, hoteliering, restaurant management, disc jockeying, and so on.

Leisure management basically involves managing peoples' leisure time, which ranges from managing country clubs and resorts, or even gymnasiums, to designing holiday packages and arranging trekking or rafting excursions or other forms of adventure sports. Events, whether fashion shows or exhibitions, product launches and social functions also come under the scope of such a career.

Leisure managers also handle events, including private parties, road shows, exhibitions, conferences, promotional campaigns, concerts, awards nights, and so on. This involves the planning, organising and execution of live events, which could range from a product or brand launch to an exhibition, a concert or even a seminar or workshop. You would need to organise press conferences, exhibitions, facility visits and other events.

Leisure management often includes some aspects of hotel management too, as many events and leisure activities are supported by food and drinks and often stay of guests as well. Professionals in this area handle the different leisure activities offered by the hotel, organise and manage events held at the hotel right from looking after the publicity and promotions, to organising the menus and supervising the activities of the restaurant staff, and addressing the needs and grievances of customers.

Professionals in the leisure management business have to constantly work at developing new ways and means of making people enjoy their leisure time. They may be required to manage country clubs and resorts, or to arrange trekking or rafting excursions or other forms of adventure sports. So, the professionals have to have a thorough understanding of the concepts and theories of leisure and recreation, and their application to the planning, provision and management of leisure services.

Not a last resort

Various clubs, resorts and gymnasiums are coming up rapidly in big cities and their outskirts, where people can spend time, indulge in a sporting or entertaining activity. Clubs and resorts are all well-equipped with facilities for recreation and relaxation, both indoors and outdoors. They also organise events and functions such as New Year parties, musical evenings, and so on, especially for their members. Gymnasiums and health clubs, golf resorts, bowling alleys too are becoming increasingly popular for people to de-stress themselves, or just generally to work out and lose weight. Business meetings are also held at clubs and resorts.

Many more musical events, stage shows like the Femina Miss India contest, and the various film awards, etc. have been receiving a lot of encouragement and sponsorships from the corporate world. While the corporates have started recognising the effectiveness of organised events in brand recall, different TV channels telecast these events live, to boost their TRP ratings. This has given a tremendous boost to the leisure industry.

Course clues

In India today, there is no specific course, neither degree nor diploma, that guarantees entry into leisure and entertainment management. But a professional degree or diploma in Public Relations/ Advertising/ Mass Communications/ Sales and Marketing, hotel management or even business management certainly does help. Abroad, there are courses offered in leisure management.

If you think you are ready to take the plunge, you only have to have the basic interest and drive and also the willingness to work hard. Imagination, initiative and good organising ability are also an advantage. Moreover, although this industry does not have a traditional, predetermined career path, it does offer a lot of scope for growth and entrepreneurship.

The writer is a noted career expert