Making mistakes can be one of life’s most valuable learning tools; however, when it comes to organising an event, unfortunately, there is little room for error. The key to every successful event is structure and organisation, but with the current climate in mind, it can be incredibly tricky to predict what obstacles may appear over the next few months. Nevertheless, there are a host of ways in which you can prevent the most common event planning mistakes, and ensure that you overcome every possible hurdle.
Avoid These Event Planning Mistakes With Our Tips!
Planning an event, whether this may be professionally or with loved ones, can be an incredibly daunting yet rewarding prospect. In the early stages, it can feel as if you are overwhelmed with tasks to complete; however, here is where you can begin to recognise things that may potentially go wrong and then plan accordingly. Aspects that we would always recommend considering include:
- Not Planning In Advance
- Overlooking Competing Events
- Lack Of Communication
- Poor Staffing
- Not Allocating A Contingency Budget
- Last-Minute Event Promotion
- Failing To Create A Plan B
The pandemic has meant that our lives have been put on hold for several months and while this can be incredibly frustrating for those with events planned, use this to your advantage. Regardless of the scale of your event, the earlier that you begin planning, the more successful you will be. Failing to do this, procrastinating and leaving your plans to the last minute will not only prove stressful but also make it considerably harder to book in with vendors.
Having worked with hundreds of clients for many years, whether this may be through our food entertainment services, digital graffiti wall or photo booth hire in London, we have seen so many companies make this simple mistake. Even we become booked in months in advance, especially over busier periods such as Christmas, which means that there is limited availability to get booked in. This means that event planners must either alter their dates to fit with vendors or opt for those who are not their first choice, risking the event not meeting expectations.
For those planning a larger, profit-based event, failing to acknowledge any competing events on the same date as yours could present a significant challenge. When you begin to shortlist locations and venues, always ensure that you spend time researching into any local events scheduled nearby. If any is happening in the same area, then we would recommend rethinking dates as not only will venue availability be limited, but public transport and accommodation will also be busy. This may put attendees off as they do not want to factor in the hassle of being stuck in traffic, fully booked hotels or lack of space on public transport.
Once you have determined your date and begin contacting venues, again, ensure that you are aware of any events planned in the same building and whether they will cause any competition. If pre-planned events do not impact yours in terms of attendance, then before going ahead, identify who has the authority to resolve any issues, such as noise disruptions.
Poor communication with vendors, clients and or attendees is one of the most detrimental mistakes you can make and can hugely impact your reputation. Nevertheless, it does remain one of the most common, and it can be easy to fall into the trap of lack of communication, especially if you are new to event planning. Bad communication often comes in the form of lack of attention to detail. To overcome this, create a checklist of everything you have done, and everything you have to complete at some point – tick items off your list when you have achieved them. You can then refer back to this to estimate how much left you have to do and what you have completed already, allowing you to stay organised. CVent and SocialTables have both written fantastic guides with more tips on how to stay organised when event planning.
Effective communication with vendors such as entertainers, venues or caterers is essential. If you reserved each well in advance, do not expect them all to turn up to your event without reminders. Make sure that when you book with them, you acquire the correct contact details and have a conversation at least a week before the event. We would also advise sending a follow-up email 48 hours prior to the event containing any last-minute details, such as what time you will be arriving and whether there are any road closures nearby, for example. To make regular communication with vendors as straightforward as possible, why not create a spreadsheet with all of the essential contact information you may need throughout the planning process?
It is also crucial that you communicate effectively with both your clients and your internal teams. Knowing precisely what your client requires will make your job much more straightforward and will avoid any disappointment from your client following the event. Make sure that your internal event team knows exactly what is expected of them and where to be at the correct times. This leads to our next point; ensuring you have enough staff for setting up, running the event and clearing up after.
If you haven’t organised enough members of staff to help you, then the person who is going to suffer the most will be you. Make sure that you are clear in your communication to staff or volunteers as to where they should be at specific times. Provide them all with accurate and in-depth timetables to minimise misunderstandings and confusions. You will also need to ensure you have enough staff to set up prior to the event and then tidy up afterwards; these are two jobs that you do not want to be left doing by yourself.
Having enough staff on hand during the event will also help it to run smoothly as you do not make the mistake of relying on yourself and one other person to operate the entire event. It is better to over employ rather than lack in staff, particularly when you are catering to a large group of attendees.
Regardless of the event that you are planning, your ability to stay on budget will remain one of the key contributing factors towards whether you are successful. However, what many event planners fail to do is allocate a contingency budget, which is a small percentage of cash which is put to one side to use in the event of an emergency. On average, it is recommended to factor in a contingency fee of around 5% to 10% of your total budget.
Without your contingency funds, if an unexpected expense was to pop up, you will have no choice but to dip into the budget allocated for another aspects of your event. For instance, if your event will include a three-course meal, and you forget to cater for additional menus for those with dietary requirements, your contingency budget can be used to cover these expenses. If this was not readily available, on the other hand, you might have to use some of your marketing budget or money set aside for goodie bags.
Leaving your event promotion to the very last minute is guaranteed to cause a number of issues and contribute to the downfall and failure of your event. This, however, is completely avoidable with some forward-thinking and practical planning. You must allow enough time for people to be aware of your event, get it in their calendars and then buy their tickets. Many companies opt for selling their tickets in stages to attract more attendees with early bird tickets being the cheapest and then slowly upping their price as they draw closer to the event.
How far in advance that you begin promoting your event depends on its size and scope, with the advisory timeframe ranging from six months to a whole year ahead of time. Not only will this ensure that your target audience can be targeted, but advertising in advance will also allow you to take advantage of several different channels. For a corporate event, a website and social media will be your most effective route, helping you to begin building a community of followers who will spread the word on your event. When it comes to social media, make it visual and engaging, the aim is always to leave a lasting impression on followers. For 33 more ideas on how you can successfully promote your event, take a look at the Eventbrite Blog.
While it is always good to have confidence in the success of your event, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is failing to put together a backup plan for those “just in case” situations. Together with your contingency budget, this will ensure that you are fully prepared to tackle any unexpected scenarios with minimal fuss.
Your plan B should not only cover the day of your event but also what you will do should problems arise during the planning process. With this in mind, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you have a list of backup vendors if someone was to cancel?
- If you are planning an outdoor event, have you arranged marquees or indoor alternatives if the weather is not on your side?
- What will you do if fewer attendees turn up? Will you move any presentations to a smaller room to prevent lots of empty seats?
- If there are any road closures or train delays, are there alternatives methods of transport to reach your venue?
- Do you have someone on hand who can take care of any AV or internet issues should electronics go down?
- Have you planned additional catering options for any guests with dietary requirements?
Preventing Easy Mistakes For A Successful Event!
Although it is unlikely your event will run without a single mishap, it is reasonably straightforward to minimise the risk of significant mistakes from occurring with the implementation of our recommendations. The key is always to be organised and keep track of any changes in your plans, ensuring that everyone involved in the process is kept updated at every stage. Don’t forget that on the day of your event, a defined structure is just as important, so consider putting together a plan of action ahead of time, which you can follow to minimise stress.