You’ve planned and planned and planned. Thought about every possibility. Crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s. You’ve checked off every item on your business event management list. You should be able to enjoy the event and move through it easily, right?
In a perfect world, yes. But in the real world, sometimes not so much. The difference between a good event and a stellar event is how you handle the challenges – foreseen and unforeseen. Events are living things with many moving parts, unpredictable variables and unexpected changes. It’s not just about dealing with them, it’s HOW you deal with them. Here are some quick tips to ensure your event goes smoothly and help you handle the inevitable hiccups.
1. Love what you do.
Seriously. Event planning is a skill. To do it well, you have to make it look easy. Some events last just a few hours and some go on for days. Days that can easily be 20-hour days on your feet. Not to mention the weeks and months of planning. Event planning is mentally, physically and sometimes emotionally draining. You have to love it and you have to thrive in hot situations that require fast-thinking and creative problem-solving.
2. Have a team you trust and that takes the same pride in its work as you do.
You are the general on event day. You have two objectives: a smooth event and a happy client. Have a pinch hitter on your team who can handle unforeseen things – be it running to get another pair of tuxedo shoes at 8 p.m. in Las Vegas or going to the helipad to meet the VIP who decided to come early … or late. Empower them. Appreciate them.
3. Do “If I get hit by a bus” planning.
Every member of your team, especially the leads, should know everything you know about the event and have the same access to all the materials that you do. So if the worst does happen, the event can carry on. This kind of coordination means you won’t be tied up answering silly questions or risking that a member of your team doesn’t know what’s going on. Makes sure to share such details as the phone numbers for the police escort, logons, passwords and that the CEO prefers Drambuie while the CMO prefers Grey Goose. You never know who may end up doing what on-site. Everyone should be able to fill in for each other seamlessly.
4. Make an “if it can go wrong, count on it to go wrong” plan.
Plan D is good. Plan Z is better. Have extras of everything. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the venue and to set up, then add another 45 minutes. Scout multiple routes when doing tours or bringing celebrities to events. Account for the unexpected in your budget – extra money in my miscellaneous line-item has saved me many times.
5. If you can check it off your list the night before, do it.
Best-case scenario, wouldn’t you rather wake up with nothing on the to-do list and go into the event fresh? Reality scenario, you’re going to have other things pop up – client calls and last-minute needs, weather issues, traffic snafus, another project that needs a response. Take care of what you can, when you can.
6. Pack an on-site event kit.
Here’s a great starting point for your event kit list. Add to it as things come up. Replace items promptly after each event and double-check it just before the next event.
7. To take care of your client, you must take care of your team and yourself.
This includes the many unofficial members of the team – valets, bellhops, event services, hotel staff, festival organizers. I also keep a personal list of things to do on events days, and it’s a short one: Eat, hydrate and sleep. Try to hit the gym or go for a run at least every other day at events. Use this time to keep your sanity and let other thoughts percolate.
8. Post-event wind-downs are essential to keeping your team healthy and positive.
Take everyone out for dinner or drinks. Celebrate a job well-done and have a chat about things that went well and things that can go better next time. Do the same thing with your client when there’s an opportunity – many times the client has a completely different perspective of an event. Where you saw all the little hiccups, your client may have seen none. It’s good to get that feedback, plus any ideas they had during the event, for next time.
9. When all else fails, stay calm.
Sometimes when there’s an issue that seems like it can’t be fixed, it just means the team needs to be more creative. Don’t take no for an answer and keep throwing out solutions until something sticks. If it’s a visible thing that has gone wrong, the client needs to see you’re actively working on a solution until it’s resolved.
Decided you’d rather have someone else handle the event so you can actively participate in it? Contact our team of event professionals to help you create the perfect event from start to finish – with none of the headaches.