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Running an Event

Four Common Event Planning Mistakes (and How to Work Through Them)

By Lance Trebesch October 6, 2014

There’s a lot that goes into event planning, but no matter how much you try to prepare for any eventuality, mistakes or unforeseen annoyances will more than likely still arise. There could be something that takes you completely off-guard. Or, you could probably forget to do something crucial, throwing your whole schedule off. Here’s a list of four of the biggest mistakes an event planner can make and how to work your way through them. With a calm head and a little bit of brainstorming, you will be able to make it through any issue.

1. Forgetting to confirm event with vendors and venue: One of the things that should be somewhere at the top of your to-do list is to confirm your event with every vendor as well as the chosen venue. It goes without saying that forgetting to confirm will put your event in an extremely precarious spot and could cause you to have to postpone it.

Just like how you have a lot to take care of your event, the vendors also have events they are juggling as well. “Your average event vendor serves multiple clients across several different categories. In short, this means they have a lot to remember,” writes Geoff Beers from About Money. “You always want to get a verbal or email confirmation from all vendors 48 hours before setup time.” Beers writes that email is usually better because you can explicitly state your expectations and ask them to reply in writing. The email trail will also help you insure yourself in case the vendor doesn’t completely fulfill their obligations.

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2. Not keeping track of event changes: Keeping tabs of your event is paramount. Of course, you’d think that keeping track of an event comes with the territory of event planning, but it’s easy to let your event get away from you.

“As with most real-life scenarios, most events will have changes in plans and scope before the big day,” states the International Institute of Event Management. “Failure to keep a track of the smallest change can mean an out of control budget, or an impossible timeline.” The institute suggests a formal “change tracking process” to keep changes documented. “The individual requesting the change (e.g. additional seating capacity or change in the food service) needs to explain the specific changes and the event manager needs to determine how that request will impact the budget [and] timeline and communicate it to all other stakeholders involved,” states the institute.

3. Not planning for bad weather: No matter how much you check the weather forecasts, you can never be too sure about how the weather will behave on the day of your event. Just to be sure, it’s best to prepare for rain or other types of inclement weather. Always have a backup weather-safe venue ready in case you need to move your event to a much safer location.

4. Not preparing for unforeseen problems: There will always be things that occur that you couldn’t have planned for.  The venue could close, the vendors could back out or scheduled talent could be stuck in traffic. In case of any unforeseen issues, always have a contingency plan. Beers states that a contingency plan should be plotted out “at least two weeks in advance for good measure.” The International Institute of Event Management states that a risk assessment should be completed “as an early part of the event planning process.” The institute advises to consult with your team and brainstorm possible issues that could arise and figure out ways to confront those issues.

Both TicketRiver Australia customers Melissa Jones and Mark Davis believe in the value of contingency plans. Jones, the managing director of Maniacs United who planned Avinash! Live Wrestling, wrote, “Make lists of all kinds, keep them, review them and update them regularly.” Davis from the football collective QPR Australia, organised The Melbourne Rs Official Meet and wrote to create multiple plans in case something goes wrong. “There’s a fair bit of work involved so make sure you cover all the bases, including back up plans, e.g. an alternative venue if the original venue happens to fall through,” he wrote. He also advised to “[k]eep the venue owners informed of numbers and keep communications open.”

How are you planning for your event? Do you have advice that can help out a first timer?

Photo credit: Stefan Baudy (Flickr Creative Commons)