If you work in events you will have experienced these moments numerous times throughout your event planning career.
Only event professionals can truly understand these situations and appreciate the thoughts and feelings they bring along. All part of the job perhaps but we share your pain!
Sit back for this rollercoaster ride of emotions, as well as some suggestions for how to cope when the going gets tough.
When the WiFi is Down
This is an event planner’s worst and most common nightmare. When a venue has bad or no WiFi, the event can seem doomed. If you are a venue manager, make sure your network is seamless and powerful enough to host hundreds of simultaneous connections. If you are an event organizer, ensure the venue you choose has what it takes to accommodate the needs of your participants. In 2016 this issue is still not going away any time soon. Grrrr!
When your Phone has No Signal
Similar to the WiFi situation, a venue that blocks all cellular signal is a no go. Your attendees, exhibitors, presenters and sponsors need to be contactable. Most importantly without phone signal it is virtually impossible for an event planner to do their job. And walking extra steps up a ‘mountain’ to get reception for a call is never appreciated when you have been on your feet since 5am!
When the Speaker Doesn’t Show Up
A speaker no show has happened to us all. Whether transport thwarted them, they got lost, ill or simply inexplicably cancelled their talk at the very last minute, this situation can seem hopeless. Always plan for the worse and think about what you will do in these circumstances. The show must go on – you may have a backup speaker on standby, alternative content, the opportunity to rework the programme or to add an extra networking session or group work. Turn a negative into a positive. Definitely don’t just tread water and fill time!
When Someone is Late
Punctuality is an event planner’s middle name. 5-minutes early is on-time, and on-time is too late. We don’t have any time to lose and should not lose other people’s time. Being late causes unnecessary stress and anxiety for everyone, and we already have enough of that daily!
When Too Many Attendees Show Up
How can you not freak out when your event is overcrowded? You haven’t planned enough food, space, welcome desks, chairs, staff… When this happens, communicate well, think creatively and make changes where you need to. Keep everyone safe, keep spirits high and find ways to entertain people while they wait. Enjoy the photo opportunities and try to make it a positive experience by creating a social media buzz! And for next time of course, anticipate and have backups ready.
When There Are Not Enough Attendees
On the contrary, it can sometimes happen that too few people show up. Low attendance is disappointing but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the event is poor. Take advantage of this unexpected situation by giving even more quality and value to your attendees. With fewer people it is easier to focus on a personalized and interactive experience. Encourage extra conversations and opportunities between participants. The interaction is what makes an event truly unique. Take care of your attendees and they will love you for it.
When You Need Sleep
Familiar with pre-event sleepless nights in front of your computer huh? Then don’t be surprised if you oversleep and are late for your event the next day! Your body will take over at some point. You need to understand that sleep is not a waste of time but a necessary fuel for your big day ahead. Check out these tactics to incorporate sleep in your pre-event schedule.
When Tech Fails You
#Eventtech is major in the event industry right now. The problem is that sometimes it can falter or fail. If tech is at the heart of your event, you need to make sure your backup plans are foolproof and that you have a reliable support team at hand. That includes simple steps such as having emergency batteries on you at all times and plugging things in (yes really!). As ironic as it sounds, sometimes it is actually the humans that let down the technology.
When You Can’t Call In Sick
Being an event planner makes it hard to skip work if you are sick. If you feel you are getting sick before the event, take care of yourself. Your event needs you. Get your sleep, eat lightly, call your doctor and do everything it takes to make it to the big day. Stock up on vitamins and aspirin and do your best to look as professional as possible.
You must also be honest with yourself and recognize that if you really can’t get up, your event might suffer from your actual presence. Hoping you have an A-list event team, brief and rework the roles and responsibilities to delegate the priority tasks to your staff. Plan for everything to work without you so everything doesn’t fall down without you.
When Attendees Swap Badges
Your registration guidelines are strict: badges are non transferable and should not be passed on to anyone else. How upsetting is it when you see attendees exchanging badges right in your face? Or denying it when caught out? Tech can thankfully fix this problem as there are tons of alternatives to paper badges; ever heard of RFID and NFC technologies? Attendees will never think about swapping badges ever again!
When Something Happens To A Guest
At some point a medical emergency will arise at your event. The bigger the events you run the more likely on the scale of probabilities that this will happen. Whether minor or major ensure you and your event team know how to deal with it. Make sure ahead of your event that there are plenty of trained first-aiders on site, what the protocol is and how to deal with all types of emergencies, including what not to do.
When the Shuttle Gets Lost
You have brilliantly arranged for shuttle buses to transport your attendees from point A to point B… but they have never arrived. Your attendees are lost and the programme delayed. Prevent this catastrophe by planning ahead. It is not enough to hire a bus to do the work. As any staff members of your event team, the driver should be provided with clear signage, a guest list, a detailed schedule, a map and your contact details. Even better, ensure one of your own staff travels with the attendees and is reachable at all times!
When The Conference Room Is Filled With Pillars
An organizer’s nightmare. Pillars are the worst when it comes to conference sight lines for your participants and designing floor plans for exhibition booths gets tricky too. If you are stuck with a venue that can only provide you with a space with columns, you will need to think creatively to get around these obstacles. Change the position of the stage, reduce the capacity in the room, change the furniture layout, work around the pillars or integrate them directly into your booth design, and use them for signage and sponsorship opportunities to boot.
When Your Feet Can’t Take It Anymore
Walking and running around for days can leave your feet screaming. Your feet should not be neglected and they need some TLC to get you through demanding event days. Choose your footwear wisely and bring a spare pair or two to give your feet a change from time to time!
These are some of the most common situations faced regularly by all event planners. The key to facing these crises is to plan for every worst-case scenario and to always have a plan B! #Proudeventprofs can deal with anything!
Do you identify with these moments? What top tips would you share with other event planners?