Planning an event is no easy task, as any established event planner will admit. It requires time, effort, and a lot of headaches. Still, many event planners underestimate the difficulty of the work and will often commit mistakes that may prove costly on the day of the event. The most important mistakes have been explained below; why they often occur and how they should be avoided.
1. Miscalculating the Size of Your Venue
A big mistake event planners make is first underestimating the size of their event. The bigger problem arises when they miscalculate the size of their venue.
Selecting the wrong space for your event restricts the capacity for your event to grow, and consequently, makes it difficult for you to manage. There’s nothing worse than an overcrowded venue.
While it may be great news to you that you had such a high turnout, your attendees, on the other hand, may feel uncomfortable with your arrangement. They will feel restricted as walk in between seats, and worse, they may feel irritated navigating your venue’s gangway. You really don’t want your guests to feel uncomfortable in overcrowded room
Fix: Rather than focusing on the potential crowd, consider the set-up of your venue. Make the right selection between tables and theatre seats, and choose the best fit for your event. Closely take into account the capacity of your venue, and always leave enough room for more attendees.
2. A Malfunctioning A/V
More often than not, event planners fail to pay attention to the effects A/V equipment could have on their events. A/V equipment include, but are not limited to, a PA system, microphones, connections and cables, overhead projectors, loudspeakers, monitors, receivers and transmitters.
Sometimes, the venue supplies this equipment. Event planners often feel relaxed with this. Rather than inspect the equipment, they pin their event’s success on untested equipment. Other times where the venue doesn’t supply A/V equipment, event planners rent equipment from vendors far away from their venue, which can be a problem in case of malfunctions.
What’s worse is when event planners leave installations and setup until the last minute.
Attendees dislike distractions, like when they have to watch the IT guy repair the projector or microphone. Besides, unplanned repairs miscue the timing of your event.
Fix: If the venue provides A/V equipment, test and re-test them. If the venue doesn’t, rent equipment from a close by vendor. By so doing, Installation becomes easy, and it also grants you quick access to IT staff in case of malfunctions on or before the event. Make sure your A/V equipment is assembled, transported, and working adequately, a week or two before the event.
3. Not enough food and refreshment
Making arrangements for food and refreshments is an important part of being an event planner. And making sure the food is sufficient is also very important in hosting a successful event. Nothing is worse than having hungry attendees.
Why is this so difficult? Event planners first have to make projections for the number of potential guests, and also plan for the dietary needs of special invitees. And because events are strict on budget, event planners can’t afford a lot of leftovers. In a nutshell, they have to strive for a balance between having enough food and having too much; this, in itself, is an almost impossible task.
Sometimes, RSVP lists may help out with food planning. But no one can really account for the right number of guests coming to their events, especially at formal events. People who RSVP’d earlier may not attend, and if they did, may bring a friend. Basically, there’s no guarantee that everyone will show up. So, how do event planners solve the food allocation problem?
Fix: Have enough food. Assume that every invited guest will be present at your event, and make arrangements for more. Understand that your event isn’t a food fest (unless it is), and that you don’t need to feed everyone. You only have to provide enough food.
Also, if you’re running on a relatively small budget, consider serving hors d'oeuvres.
4. Going off schedule
A lot of event planners neglect making a schedule when planning events. In fact, many leave it till the last minute, which may be detrimental to the setup of their event. What they fail to understand is the fact that it’s very easy to go off schedule. A little slack here and there can mess up an event’s timing.
The moment the venue is all set up, the seats arranged, the A/V equipment tested, and, most importantly, the speakers determined; it’s important to time the sequence of events. Else, you risk losing the interest of attendees, and your guests may have a bad experience overall. Time is important. People have things to do. So, as an event planner, you have to set a time frame to every phase of your event, and keep to it.
Fix: Draft out the sequence of the event day; from the time attendees arrive, to when the session starts and ends. Include all minor aspects of the events including the refreshments breaks and set a time frame. Allocate reasonable time to every activity. And when your schedule is drafted, make it presentable, and forward it to all invited guests well before the event.
5. Bad Wi-Fi connection
Good Wi-Fi connection is paramount in business events, while a bad connection is, sometimes, the bane of many event planners. Although many business venues have Wi-Fi connections, it often isn’t very reliable or fast enough. This happens due to congestion, when too many users jump on a bandwidth that can’t handle the load. Attendees always expect a fast and reliable internet connection, and when they can’t get this at an event—no matter how well set up—they get frustrated quickly. Slow internet is way more annoying than no WiFi. It’s the most effective way to upset your attendees.
Fix: Plan for a high volume of Wi-Fi traffic. The reason is because, people often carry around more than one device. The average is two per person. So, taking this into consideration, if you had planned to buy a bandwidth strong enough for 500 people, you may need to consider up to 1000 people.
Put a restriction on the amount of Wi-Fi data available to each individual, especially for people who try to stream live videos.
Most importantly, focus on speed. Your Wi-Fi connection speed should be sufficient enough to check emails and social media.
These aren’t the only mistakes event planners make, but they are the most detrimental to the course of well-arranged events. Other mistakes may include not promoting the event enough and not thanking guests for attending; Understaffing can also pose a problem.
You must understand, however, that no matter how well-prepared your event is, something may go wrong. It is very important to monitor the course of the event as it progresses, so that unplanned contingencies may be averted, or properly handled and contained.
Roman Mastalir, CEO