As event planners, we often are so busy that we can overlook elements detrimental to the success of our events, that’s why it’s always good to be reminded of (potential) past mistakes, why they arose and how you overcame them. For this reason, we have compiled a list of 9 common threats to your event and how you can avoid them. Indeed, some are no-brainers – but you’d be surprised at what you might overlook when the stress piles on!
Unclear Budget – Budget? What Budget?
Event budgets today are shrinking and event planners have to get creative and do more, with much less. It would be great if we were all able to plan and host an event without a budget – the possibilities would be endless.
This is still the case though, of course, (the endless possibilities part) if you stay on top of your finances. Always be sure to set a threshold for your event so that you don’t end up paying for your mistakes after (literally).
Here’s what you need to do:
- Set a clear budget limit for your event
- Track your expenses as you go.
- Come up with creative ideas (e.g. decor, etc) that are also budget-friendly.
Poor Time Management – So much to do, so little time.
You must invest the right resources in the right place, at the right time. We all have an “oh, I could have this done in no time” moment at some point. Often though, we tend to regret procrastinating and wish that we could go back in time to begin planning sooner.
How can we stay on top of our planning game?
- Set short and long-term targets to make sure things are done when they need to be.
- Start with the info essentials: event venue, event size and which are events going on at the same time.
Murphy’s Law – Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
The first item that springs to mind here is last-minute changes that, when they occur, seem like the end of the world (and your event).
So, how to we challenge Murphy?
- Complete a risk assessment of your event and identify where changes are most likely to occur or areas where event success could be jeopardized.
- Based on your risk assessment be sure to have a backup plan and cover all your bases.
- Take a breath. We cannot predict the future – but plan for the worst and hope for the best!
Too Few Team Members – Not enough hands to get the job done.
Not all organizations have an event team dedicated to planning their events. Sometimes it’s a one-person army tackling the annual conference and other times it’s a team of ten devoted souls working towards an exhibition.
Above all though, it’s important (and sometimes necessary) to just reach out and ask for help – you’d be amazed which of your colleagues would be interested in lending a hand!
- Ask for help when you need it
- Be a team player
- Buy coffee and muffins to say thanks!
Purposeless Event – So just a party, really.
Let’s be honest… an event without a ‘real’ purpose is just a party. Also, it is quite a waste of effort and time.
How does one determine the purpose of an event?
- Why are those particular guests being invited to your event?
- What should your event mean to them? What will it bring them?
- Don’t over complicate things. Just make sure your guests know why they are attending your event and that their attendance is valued and appreciated.
Careless Mistakes – Some things simply are avoidable.
Things sometimes slip through the cracks and are forgotten, only to be remembered at the very last possible minute. The secret to mitigating simple mistakes in your event planning is too well, have a solid plan.
- Create an in-depth event plan that describes what needs to be done, when and by whom (in detail)
- Make sure you and your team all understand the plan and are ready to commit to it
- Simple mistakes can happen, we’re only human – so dust yourself off and keep going!
Not Enough XP – Planners with insufficient experience.
Things can get out of control pretty quickly without a captain steering the ship – or in the case of event planning, leading the event team. Not having the right people in the right place is a recipe for disaster.
An event team leader (or manager, depending) needs to have an overview of the workloads and schedules of their team and coordinate activities therein. Once your event team manager (leader) understands each team members’ capabilities it will be much easier to get the task done in the most efficient and effective way possible.
As a team manager:
- LEAD your team – (almost) anyone can manage
- Positive reinforcement goes a long way
As a team member:
- There is no ‘I’ in team
- Work to your strengths – this is the best approach when there’s not enough time and much to do.
Too many tools – Tools, tools everywhere!
It’s always nice to have a tool for everything. A tool to manage your budget, a tool to track your event tasks, a tool for emailing, a tool for registrations, and of course some mobile apps to keep you organized on-the-move.
How does one then sift out the useful from the useless tools?
1- If you still have to ‘figure out’ a tool but you’re “sure it will help” – don’t bother wasting your time picking and testing tools when you don’t have the time
2- Less is more. One or two integrated tools can go a long way – if you often find yourself planning events, look into online software that can be customized to meet your needs.
Change Management – Not tracking your event changes.
As with most things, it is unlikely that your event plans will remain constant – change is inevitable. A lot of the times though failing to keep track of event changes are as a result of a budget or task management issue.
So, how can you prepare and avoid this?
1- Make sure your budget is airtight and thoroughly thought-out
2- Set a realistic and detailed event timeline and pre-plan as much as possible
3- Gather details on any changes, e.g: the reasons for the change, who is responsible, etc – this way you can consider these insights for your next event