Pubished in Times of India Newspaper on 14th August 2014
Event hosting: get paid to party!
Future of Hostess Industry in India and Globally
Partying with high-profile people, sipping the finest wine and being paid for doing what sounds like a dream - this is the real life of the people who work as party/event hosts. Now, if you are wondering what this cool job of being an event host is, we break it down for you.
Who, what, how These people are not the actual hosts, but simply act as hosts. They flash their smiles when you enter the venue, help you with any questions and are usually dressed to mix in with the crowd - if it's a party - or are well-versed and suited up, if it's a conference or a promotion. Pushpandra Singh, founder of ModelsDelhi.com, tells us, "Currently it's roughly a Rs4,000 crore industry in India, and the market is growing at a pace of 20-30% per year. Our major clients include event management organisations, wedding planners, exhibitions and the hospitality sector. There are two categories through which people work with us - online and offline. The online workers are the ones whose profiles can be accessed online. The offline workers are the ones who have given their numbers, but don't want their families to know they know are involved in hosting. So, they don't upload their profiles and pictures online.
To register, the applicant needs to go on our website and fill an application with their vital statistics, the number of languages they speak and so on. An event host can earn from Rs500 a day to Rs10,000 a day depending on his/her characteristics. When companies are searching for event hosts, good looks are the top criteria. Next comes good communication skills. Basically, you don't need a great skill set to be an event host - all you need is good looks and good communication skills, and that can help you make easy money.
But if a phone manufacturing company is looking for a promoter, it will want a host who doesn't only have good looks, but also has the ability to talk about the specifications and features of the product. If you see foreign or Indian girls welcoming you at a wedding or a party, they are called the ushers. The demand for foreign hostesses is a recent phenomenon and a popular one. Mumbai has the highest demand for event hostesses; next comes Delhi. And it's not just the big cities, but people across India want good looking event hosts."
A hit with the students Waiting tables is a thing of the past, working as event hosts seems to be the new fad among youngsters. Pushpandra Singh tells us, "Event hosting is becoming popular by the day among students." Adding to this, Nidhi says, "Only 5-10 % of applicants have permanent jobs, the others are students. People come and register, but their number changes, resumes get lost - that is the reason we have round the year registrations. This is a short- lived career, and that is why it's most suitable for students who are looking to work part-time.
The best part is that you can work according to your convenience. Some students work only on weekends, while others work only in the evenings. Plus, you have the choice to refuse an event, if you don't have the time." Yogendra Sharma*, who is a freelance event crew provider, says, "Most of the candidates who come to us are students. Also, many foreigners work part-time. They earn almost three times the money that Indian girls do."
Networking, Party, and Moolah Apart from money, a big advantage for many students is the contacts they make during these events. Vironika Sharma, a post-graduate student of philosophy from Indraprastha College for Women, DU, says, "I make around `20,000 a month working as a host girl for parties and events on weekends. I got my phone and laptop through this money. Also, now as my future is set. I have got contacts in many big multinational companies as I have already worked for them. I don't think I will have any problem in getting a job."
Emy, an international relations post-graduate student at JNU, feels that it's the flexibility of timing that makes event hosting a perfect option for her to earn easy money. She says, "On good days, I earn around `2,000. Plus, you work at your own convenience. I always take events that are after college time or on weekends. That way, I have full freedom and can work when I want."
Anumeha Sharma, who recently completed her graduation from Institute of Management Studies, Noida, says, "I don't do event hosting for money. I do it because it's a hobby for me. You get to meet people and make contacts. I love doing this, and that's why event hosting is the best part-time job for me." Richa Thomas, who wants to be full-time model, says, "Working as a party hostess provides you with good networking opportunities. Recently, I met a photographer at one of the parties, who helped with getting my portfolio done."
While everyone does make contacts, sometimes, its just sheer luck - according to Kirti Vardhan, a full-time anchor now - that can propel your career through event hosting. She says, "Luck plays a great role. I did events in the beginning. Then, one day an event coordinator approached me to anchor for them when their anchor backed out at the last moment. Ever since then, I have been doing only anchoring. I am also pursuing a diploma in French from Bharati Vidyapeeth University and anchoring at the same time, and it feels great."
Misconceptions about event hosting Yet, the occupation comes with its own set of misconceptions. Pushandra Singh tells us, "Four per cent of the calls we get are to do with prostitution! When exhibitors come from other states or from other countries, they are looking for some 'fun' in the night. Frankly speaking, they want prostitutes. If we ever get a hint that a client has such intentions, we immediately tell them that we can't provide our services. It's completely illegal. There is a certain kind of misconception regarding the profession. Event hosting is not prostitution, but the client is confused about what exactly an event hostess does. This is not the prostitution business and people should know this."
Kavita Rana, 23, a full-time event hostess, says, "It is quick money and I earn Rs50,000-60,000 a month. I used to have a full time 9-5 job, which kept me in office till 8pm everyday, but to what use? It paid me less and with time, you get used to easy money, so I switched to full-time modelling and being a host girl. People think that being a host girl is a bad thing. Often, they ask me, 'why this?' This perception is wrong. It's a safe and respectable profession. I have stopped caring about what people think anymore." Adding to this, Emy says, "It's true that we serve basically as 'attraction', but what is wrong in that? After all, we are being paid for it. It's completely respectable." Anumeha tells us, "I never say I work at events or I am a hostess. I tell everybody that I am a model. They usually go 'Wow', and that's about it!"
People try to get too friendly Often, however, female hosts are approached by men. While the hosts ignore unwanted advances, the host providers help out too - from banning 'revealing clothes' to blacklisting hostesses who behave inappropriately. Kirti Vardhan says, "People always approach you, but there is a right way to do things. You need to know what you want and taking a shortcut is not the right way for me. There are always people who say, 'let's hang out', and it's up to the hostess to handle them. My way is to say a strict 'no'." Richa, who mostly does party events, tells us, "Guys come to us and tell us how pretty we are. We just have to ignore them. We can't be rude, and it gets a little hard to say a firm no as you are supposed to be nice and friendly. But, come what may, we never exchange numbers. Moreover, our agents provide supervisors, who take care of the situation whenever somebody tries to get 'too friendly'."
Emy says, "There are some people who want to get too friendly. The best thing to do is to ignore them, and not respond to what they are saying. I have done a lot events and parties, but nothing really bad has ever happened. A lot depends on the agency you work for. Some agencies always send supervisors with you, but some hardly care and send you alone. The agency I work for makes sure that a supervisor is sent with girls to every event to ensure their safety. Also, we are not allowed to wear revealing clothes." Even when the hostesses do their best to avoid such incidents, sometimes, things do get out of hand, and that is when the event coordinators do their bit to protect their employees.
Narrating one such incident, Pushpandra says, "Recently, one of our long-term clients started sending objectionable messages to our hostess. The hostess complained to us, and we told the client that we might take legal action. Neither our clients nor our hostesses can indulge in illegal activities while being associated with us. Our event hostesses have never been found doing anything wrong. Even exchanging numbers with the guests at parties is not allowed. If a hostess does so and lands in trouble, then it's not our responsibility because we mention that clearly in our terms and conditions."