Avoid These 6 Common Event Planning Mistakes
Planning and coordinating an event is a stressful job! Whether experienced or novice, most event planners will make a mistake or two throughout their careers. Here is a quick list of the most common event planning mistakes made, and our tips on how to get around them.
1. Doing it all yourself
Jack of all trades = master of none. Do-it-all event planners will handle the guest list, all the finances, the decorations, the technical elements, the food… the list goes on. Having so many balls in the air yourself is almost a guarantee that you’re going to drop one or two.
The solution: As an event planner, your job is to coordinate all the elements of an event, not to execute on all the different pieces that come together on the big day. Instead of tackling everything yourself, consider contracting out an event decorator, a bookkeeper, a caterer, etc. who can work with you to make sure your event is a great success!
2. Leaving it to the last minute
Whether “it” is a door prize, promotion, or equipment rentals, leaving anything to the last minute is a sure fire path to chaos, sooner or later.
The solution: Most events take months to plan. If you’re well organized and stick to a concrete plan, you should have all the pieces secured (including backup plans) at least 4 weeks away from the event… though we recommend 8-12 weeks to be safe!
3. Miscalculating the size of the event
This is a double-edged sword. You want to make sure the size of the venue is adequate for the number of guests, but you also want to ensure the guest list is adequate for the venue! Too many guests for a small space will lead to a very crowded and unworkable event. You might also run out of materials or food. Too few guests for a large event will give the event an air of emptiness.
The solution: Confirm the guest list as early as possible, and give a final head count to your vendors as soon as you can. This will give everyone the chance to adjust the plan based on the number of attendees. Also, if you’re unsure of the guest list, make sure you pick a venue that offers options for different group sizes and vendors who offer flexible services according to a finalized guest list.
4. Not allowing enough time for setup
Imagine setting up decorations as the guests are entering an event, or finding out you’re missing a power cord 10 minutes before your keynote speaker is supposed to go on stage. This nightmare is faced by many event planners and coordinators at least once during their careers.
The solution: Plan out the event setup well in advance, and make sure to hire enough people to complete all tasks before the event starts! If it’s possible to have everything set up a day or two in advance, do it! If not, a well laid out plan (planned down to the minute), can make a difference between a success and a disaster!
5. Keeping clients in the dark
This is a nightmare for planners and their clients alike. Phones and emails are the standard communication these days, but that can lead to confusion or misunderstanding down the road. You don’t want your client to see the venue for the first time on the big day, and be disappointed in all the hard work you’ve accomplished because it’s not what they envisioned.
The solution: Schedule plenty of face-to-face time with your clients. Walk them through the venue, and show them samples of wardrobe, décor, food, etc. before making any final decisions. Keeping clients engaged throughout the planning process can save a lot of headaches down the road!
6. Forgetting it’s all about the guests!
This is actually a very easy mistake to make! You’re so concentrated on meeting the client’s needs and coordinating between the vendors, you forget about simple accommodations for the guests.
The solution: Make a checklist of guest accommodations for any event, and keep it in mind at all times. This list should at least include:
having a parking plan
coat check (for events in colder months or climates)
signage leading guests to the venue (especially in confusing layouts!)
having bathroom attendants (nothing like a dirty bathroom to kill an event!)
making certain there are vegetarian/vegan food options available
planning for inclement weather (tarps & umbrella stands)
Whatever your event, you should always remember Murphy’s Law: whatever can go wrong will go wrong. A successful event planner will take a cue from the boy scouts and be prepared for just about any situation can just save your event… and your reputation!