Events tell stories.
Furthermore, your event has no backspace, undo or delete. As we lead the charge in planning events, we also lead the charge in hosting the praise or blame when things go right and wrong. Forbes ranks event planning as one of the most stressful jobs there is, and it's not a surprise.
Whether it's a corporate party, product launch, brand activation, wedding, or concert -- there is a balancing act of creative, logistics, operations, content, etc. that is a lot to manage, to say the least. To alleviate this undertaking? Get ahead of the curve.
Below we have identified 5 Risk Producing Mistakes Every Planner Can Avoid, along with suggested solutions that will help you dodge them:
Mistake 1: Losing sight of the plot.
When planning an event there's always a plot, a story to tell and execute. It's easy as planners to get caught up in all the details and chaos that often accompanies planning an event that we forget the storyline altogether. While premiere lighting + ambiance, good signature drinks, and a sunny day are easy "job well done" takeaways, the real first place event ribbon is to create an unforgettable experience and some sort of real impact. This can be executed with SUPERB content messaging, branding, etc. Whether it's your client's tagline or mission statement, event messaging takes the cake of importance for event planning -- and taking it a step further, it's become an industry demand for the event experience economy.
Solution: Content, content, and more content. Content messaging for your event should start from the perspective of your guest's journey: invitations, pre-event communication (apps, email, social media, etc.), on arrival, and should carry through with fluidity all the way through your post event plans. Planning a content strategy that spans all platforms is vital to ensure your message sticks.
Mistake 2: Not involving your vendors soon enough.
Let's face it, while you're the maestro of your event, you're not a one (wo)man show. It takes a true village of industry experts in their fields to plan and execute an unforgettable event. Forgettable events? We won't worry about those. Again, it's easy to begin operating as a one person silo when we begin planning, elongating our planning process to the point that we involve our vendors (catering, venue services, decor and furniture, audio/visual, scenic, floral, etc.) at the absolute last minute. What does this cause? Lack of excellence. These vendors are in their field for a reason, and you chose to work with them for their expertise, quality customer service, their reputation, or other. Either way, involving them sooner opens the time margin for more creativity, customization, building trust, and more. This can even lessen your direct costs by not having to pay extra rush fees.
Solution: As soon as you have a date, involve your vendors. Get your date on their calendars. Involve them in your creative and logistical planning process. They're experts in the industry for a reason, don't be a know-it-all. Your event will thrive because you looped them in sooner.
Mistake 3: Going over the budget.
Breaking the budget is pretty much a deal-breaker. It’s so easy to do that it’s so important to get it right. Hidden fees including taxes, permits, flight changes, and even traffic jams and finding alternate routes can quickly snowball into a whole list of expenses.
Solution: The best advice here is to have a margin of at least 15 percent. If you use it, fine. If you don't, great! Also, transparency. Ask your questions about budget earlier. If you think it's too early, it's not. Share your budget concerns with your vendors without restraint. They are there to help you make the most with what you've got, and they can't do that if you're playing games.
Mistake 4: Bad use of technology.
Today's technology has the ability to elevate or crush your event. There are a plethora of event experience apps and event management platforms. USE THEM, but use them well. You don't want your guests fumbling around on their phones logging into event apps when they should be engaging with the event. You don't want scanners that are unable to read tickets because of heat or humidity, and you don't want check-in kiosks to crash as guests are arriving because of lack of bandwidth.
Solution: Test everything! Test it all. Test all of your technology as it will be on the event day from the perspective of the guest -- in the same location, on the same server, and connected to the same wifi. If you're using a platform that includes customer support, rely on their support. You're not an IT expert or you wouldn't be planning events. Bring in a consultant or have their team test remotely alongside you to ensure all is functioning properly. Also, using just one operating system can certainly help the flow.
Mistake 5: Poor time management.
Oftentimes, the biggest caveat to planning your successful event is time. Budgets can be in place, vendors booked, accurate messaging executed, technology tested, and Armageddon considered, the biggest tipping point for any event is timing. From the delivery of your decor an hour too late, to the crucial few seconds of an opening act, timing is pivotal and there are no do-overs on event day.
Solution: Have your run-of-show timeline for show day detailed down to the minute. Make sure every tiny detail is covered, even those you think are unnecessary to include -- they're only unnecessary until they're necessary. Include all possible worst-case scenarios that can disrupt your plan, such as a short circuit, a traffic jam or a fast oven. The best event planners out there have truly mastered a critical timeline for their events.