20 Problem-Solving Tips For Event Planners
As an event planner, you shouldn’t go into an event expecting things to go wrong… But unfortunately, Murphy’s Law is always in effect. Problems will always arise during the planning or execution of an event – and it’s how you deal with them that determines your success. This is why today, we’re discussing 20 problem-solving tips for event planners that’ll arm you for ANY emergency!
By being prepared for anything, you’ll be able to handle whatever challenge comes your way!
BEFORE WE GET STARTED: Not already a certified event planner? Follow these 6 steps to become one in as little as 3 short months!
What Problems Do Event Planners Solve?
As a professional event planner, you should always have a solutions-oriented mindset. Whether you’re dealing with vendor issues, last minute changes, or even rowdy guests – being able to think on your feet and come up with a solution is key to a successful event.
While every event will present its own unique set of problems, there are some that are more common than others – which we’ll go more into detail about later. That said, a few common examples of the general types of problems event planners typically solve include:
- Budgetary problems
- Weather problems
- Venue problems
- Technical difficulties
- Cancellations or no-shows
- Scheduling conflicts
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that these are just a few examples. The reality is, as an event planner, you should always be prepared for ANYTHING!
How Do You Solve Problems in Events?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to solving problems, there are some general tips that you can follow to make sure that you’re prepared for anything. Here are the top 20 tips we’ve put together for you!
20 Problem-Solving Tips for Event Planners
Problem-Solving Tip #1: Establish a Problem-Solving Team
The first step in problem-solving is to establish a team that will be responsible for brainstorming solutions and implementing them. This team should be composed of people with different backgrounds and perspectives so that no stone is left unturned.
Problem-Solving Tip #2: Define the Problem
The next step is to actually sit down and define the problem. This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often people try to solve a problem without actually knowing what the problem is. Trying to solve a problem without defining it first is like trying to hit a moving target – you’ll never succeed.
Problem-Solving Tip #3: Brainstorm Solutions
Once the problem is defined, it’s time to start brainstorming solutions. This is where the problem-solving team comes in handy. Each member of the team should contribute their own ideas until you have a good list to work with.
And if you don’t have a team to help you do this?
Then here are some quick tips for brainstorming solutions:
- Write down the problem in the center of a piece of paper and draw a circle around it.
- Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and start brainstorming as many solutions as you can think of.
- Don’t judge or criticize any of the ideas – just write them down.
Problem-Solving Tip #4: Evaluate the Pros and Cons of Each Solution
Once you have a list of potential solutions, it’s time to evaluate the pros and cons of each one. This will help you narrow down your options and choose the best possible solution.
Problem-Solving Tip #5: Implement the Solution
After you’ve chosen the best solution, it’s time to implement it. This is where the rubber meets the road. So, make sure you’re prepared!
Problem-Solving Tip #6: Follow Up
Once the solution is implemented, it’s important to follow up and make sure that it actually solved the problem. If not, you’ll have to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Problem-Solving Tip #7: Be Prepared
This is one of the most important problem-solving tips of all for event planners! The best way to solve problems is to be prepared for them. By having a plan in place, you’ll be able to handle anything that comes your way.
Problem-Solving Tip #8: Stay Calm
When a problem arises, it’s important to stay calm. This can be easier said than done, but it’s crucial. If you freak out, you’ll make the situation worse and it’ll be harder to find a solution.
Problem-Solving Tip #9: Don’t Panic
This is similar to tip number 8, but it’s worth repeating. Panicking will only make the situation worse and it’ll be harder to find a solution.
Problem-Solving Tip #10: Think Outside the Box
When you’re trying to solve a problem, it’s important to think outside the box. This means looking at the situation from different angles and coming up with creative solutions.
Problem-Solving Tip #11: Be Flexible
As an event planner, you need to be flexible. This means being open to new ideas and solutions. If you’re set in your ways, you’ll never find the best solution.
Problem-Solving Tip #12: Keep a Positive Attitude
It’s important to keep a positive attitude when you’re solving problems. This doesn’t mean that you should be happy all the time. But, it does mean that you should believe that the problem can be solved and that you’ll find a way to solve it.
Problem-Solving Tip #13: Be Resourceful
When you’re trying to solve a problem, you need to be resourceful. This means using the resources that you have available to you. If you’re stuck, get creative and think of ways to use what you have.
Problem-Solving Tip #14: Be Persistent
As the age-old saying goes: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. This is especially true when you’re trying to solve a problem. If one solution doesn’t work, don’t give up. Keep trying until you find a solution that does work.
Problem-Solving Tip #15: Delegate
When you’re trying to solve a problem, it’s important to delegate. This means giving tasks to other people on your team. This will help you get the job done faster and it’ll be one less thing for you to worry about.
Problem-Solving Tip #16: Ask for Help
If you’re struggling to solve a problem, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s no shame in admitting that you need assistance. In fact, this is one of the best ways to find a solution.
Problem-Solving Tip #17: Take a Break
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break. This will help you clear your head and come back to the problem with fresh eyes.
Problem-Solving Tip #18: Sleep on It
If you’re really stumped, sleep on it. Often, the answer will come to you in your dreams.
Problem-Solving Tip #19: Talk to a Mentor
If you have a mentor, talk to them about your problem. They may have faced a similar situation before and they’ll be able to give you some valuable advice.
Problem-Solving Tip #20: Seek Professional Help
Yes, as an event planner, you’re considered the professional. However, there’s nothing wrong with seeking some help for yourself when you’re trying to solve a problem. If you’re feeling really stuck, consider hiring a consultant or coach. Alternately, if there’s time, you can also attend a workshop that will teach you how to solve problems.
Whatever you do, don’t hesitate to get the you get the help that you need – when you need it. This way, you can assist your client properly and help them to fix whatever the problem is for their big day!
Why Is Problem-Solving Important for an Event Planner?
As an event planner, you’ll quickly learn that no matter how much you plan, something will always come up last minute. While some problems are small and easily fixed, others have the potential to completely throw off your event.
This is why problem-solving skills are SO important for event planners. By being able to think on your feet and come up with solutions to problems quickly, you’ll be able to save your event – no matter what comes up!
What Are The 5 Problem-Solving Techniques All Event Planners Must Know?
When it comes to successful problem-solving of ANY kind, there’s a 5-step process that all event planners should follow:
1. Define the Problem
The first step in solving any problem is to define what the problem is. This may seem like a no-brainer but, in the heat of the moment, it can be easy to misidentify the problem.
For example, let’s say that you’re planning an event and the caterer calls to say that they’re running late. Your first instinct might be to panic. But, if you take a step back and think about the situation, you’ll realize that the real problem isn’t that the caterer is running late. The real problem is that you don’t have food for your guests.
By taking a moment to define the problem, you can avoid making things worse and you’ll be able to focus on finding a solution.
2. Brainstorm Solutions
Once you’ve defined the problem, it’s time to brainstorm some solutions. This is where creativity comes into play. The more solutions you can come up with, the better.
For example, if you’re trying to solve the problem of not having food for your guests, some potential solutions might be to order pizza or to ask a friend to bring food.
3. Evaluate the Options
Once you’ve brainstormed some solutions, it’s time to evaluate which options are the best. To do this, you’ll need to consider a few factors, such as:
- The timeline of the event
- What your client’s budget is
- The potential risks involved with each problem-solving solution
- The benefits of each possible solution
For example, if you’re trying to solve the problem of not having food for your guests, ordering pizza might be the best option if you don’t have time to cook or go out and buy food. But, if your client is on a tight budget, cooking or going to the store might be a better option because it’s cheaper than ordering pizza.
4. Choose a Solution
After you’ve evaluated the options, it’s time to choose a solution. This is usually the easy part because, at this point, you should have a good idea of which option is the best.
5. Implement the Solution
The final step is to implement the solution. This is where you’ll take action and do whatever it is that you need to do to solve the problem.
For example, if you’re trying to solve the problem of not having food for your guests, you might order pizza or go to the store to buy food (as we just mentioned).
What Are The 5 W’s of Event Planning?
The 5 W’s of event planning are:
- Who – who is your target audience?
- What – what type of event are you planning?
- When – when is the event taking place?
- Where – where is the event taking place?
- Why – why are you hosting the event?
How This Relates To Problem-Solving
As an event planner, you’ll need to be able to answer the 5 W’s for every event that you plan. Why? Because they’ll help you to better understand the event and, as a result, they’ll help you to solve any problems that come up.
For example, if you’re planning a corporate holiday party, some of the answers to the 5 W’s might be:
- Who – the target audience is employees of the company
- What – the event is a holiday party
- When – the event is taking place on December 23rd
- Where – the event is taking place at the company’s headquarters
- Why – the event is being hosted to celebrate the holidays and to boost morale
As you can see, understanding the answers to the 5 W’s can help you to solve problems that come up during the event planning process.
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What are The 5 C’s of Successful Event Management?
The 5 C’s of successful event management are:
- Concept – you need to have a clear concept for your event before you can start planning it.
- Coordination – you need to coordinate all aspects of the event, from the venue to the catering.
- Control – you need to be in control of the event at all times.
- Culmination – you need to ensure that the event culminates in a successful way.
- Closeout – you need to close out the event correctly.
Check out this article by The Midlothian Conference Center to learn more about these 5 C’s and why they’re so important!
How This Relates To Problem-Solving
The 5 C’s of successful event management can also help you to solve problems that come up during the event planning process.
For example, if you’re having trouble coordinating all of the different aspects of the event, going back to the concept stage and creating a clear plan can help you to get things back on track. Similarly, if you’re losing control of the event, taking a step back and reassessing the situation can help you to get things back under control.
The Types of Problems That May Occur During Events (and How To Solve Them)
Finally, let’s take a look at 10 examples of problems that may occur during events and what you can hypothetically do to solve them.
1. Problem: The event is not going as planned.
What this looks like: There are a number of things that could cause this problem. Maybe the event is running behind schedule, maybe the guests are not happy, or maybe there’s been a change in the guest list.
How to solve it: The best way to solve this problem is to take a step back, go back to the plan you’ve created for the event, and see where things have gone off course. Once you’ve identified the problem, you can take steps to fix it. Just remember that as you make any necessary changes, you’ll need to communicate these changes to everyone involved in the event.
2. Problem: The catering company is running late.
What this looks like: This is a fairly common problem and it can cause a lot of stress for event planners. Basically, what’s happening in this scenario is that the catering company is running behind schedule and they’re not going to be able to serve the guests’ food on time.
How to solve it: The best way to solve this problem is to communicate with the catering company and see what’s causing the delay. If they’re running late because they’re short-staffed, see if you can help them out by calling in some extra staff. If they’re running late because they’re having trouble with the food, see if you can help them by coming up with a backup plan.
3. Problem: Your client is going over budget.
What this looks like: This is a common problem for event planners, especially if they’re working with a client who doesn’t have a lot of experience planning events. Essentially, the client is requesting things that are outside of their budget.
How to solve it: The best way to solve this problem is to have a conversation with your client and explain to them what’s included in their budget. Once they understand what’s included, you can help them to prioritize their requests and find ways to save money.
PRO TIP: Here are 3 savvy ways to increase your client’s budget limit!
4. Problem: The venue is not what was expected.
What this looks like: This problem usually arises when the event planner has not seen the venue in person before booking it. When they finally see the venue, they may realize that it’s not as large as they thought it was, or that it wasn’t properly cleaned.
How to solve it: The best way to solve this problem is, obviously, to ensure you actually see the venue inside and out BEFORE your client pays anything. This way, you can avoid any nasty surprises down the road.
That said, let’s say you weren’t able to do this for whatever reason. As a result, you’ve wound up in the predicament we’ve outlined above. How should you proceed from here?
The first step is to communicate with the venue and see if there’s anything they can do to fix the situation. If the venue is too small, see if they can move the event to a different location. Similarly, if the venue is not clean, see if they can have it cleaned before the event starts.
If the venue is unwilling or unable to make any changes, your next step is to communicate with your client. Let them know what the situation is and see if they’re willing to make any changes. If they’re not willing to make any changes, you may need to refund their money and find a new venue.
5. Problem: The venue outright cancels.
What this looks like: This is, unfortunately, a fairly common problem. Sometimes venues will cancel an event at the last minute, leaving the event planner scrambling to find a new location.
How to solve it: The best way to solve this problem is to have a backup plan in place. When you’re booking a venue, always have a few other options in mind in case the first one falls through.
6. Problem: There’s a problem with the AV equipment.
What this looks like: This is another common problem that can occur during events. Basically, what’s happening in this scenario is that the audio/visual equipment is not working properly and it’s disrupting the event.
How to solve it: The best way to solve this problem is to have a backup plan in place. When you’re setting up the AV equipment, always have a backup plan in case something goes wrong. For example, you could bring along a portable speaker so that you can still have music even if the sound system isn’t working.
7. Problem: The weather is unexpectedly bad on the day of the event.
What this looks like: This is a fairly common problem, especially if the event is outdoors. Basically, what’s happening in this scenario is that the weather is not cooperating and it’s causing problems for the event.
How to solve it: Once again, the most effective way to solve this problem is to have a backup plan in place. When you’re planning an outdoor event, always have a backup plan in case the weather doesn’t cooperate. For example, you could rent a tent so that guests can take shelter from the rain.
8. Problem: The event is understaffed.
What this looks like: This is a common problem that can occur when an event is not properly planned. Basically, what’s happening in this scenario is that there are not enough staff members to handle the number of guests.
How to solve it: You can avoid this potential issue by being properly prepared. When you’re planning an event, always make sure you have a good estimate of the number of guests. Then, add a few extra staff members to your team just to be safe. That way, if you do have a larger than expected turnout, you’ll still be able to handle it.
9. Problem: The event is not well-attended.
What this looks like: This is another common problem that can occur when an event is not properly planned. Basically, what’s happening in this scenario is that there are not enough guests attending the event. This can especially be an issue for corporate events, such as trade shows, conferences, or product launches.
How to solve it: The best way to solve this problem is to do your research ahead of time. When you’re planning an event, always make sure you have a good estimate of the number of guests. Then, add a few extra guests to your guest list just to be safe and pad the numbers a little bit. That way, if you do have a smaller than expected turnout, you’ll still have enough guests to make the event successful!
10. Problem: Your client gets sick or gets injured on the day of the event.
What this looks like: This is a fairly common problem, especially if you’re working with VIP clients or private clients. Basically, what’s happening in this scenario is that your client gets sick or injured and they can’t attend the event.
How to solve it: There are a few different solutions to a problem like this. First, you could try to reschedule the event for another date. If that’s not possible, you could try to find a replacement for your client. For example, if you’re planning a conference and the keynote speaker gets injured, you could try to find another speaker who can fill in for them at the last minute. Finally, if all else fails, you could always try to refund your clients.
Solutions for Private Events
Now, if the event in question is for a private client – such as a birthday party or a wedding – another last-minute option is to go the virtual route. You could set up a Skype call or a Google Hangout so that the client can still participate in the event, even if they’re not physically present. Similarly, it could be the guests who wind up not being physically present, but still capable of attending the event remotely.
Alternately, your client may choose to take things on the chin and proceed with the day exactly as originally planned. This is why having an emergency kit on-hand is an absolute must for event planners! After all, if you’ve come prepared with cold meds, a First Aid kit, band-aids, etc., then you’ll be able to take care of your client and help them get through the event, even if they’re feeling under the weather.
PRO TIP: If you’re a wedding planner, here are 6 additional emergencies you may face on your clients’ big day!
As you can see, there are a variety of potential problems that can occur when you’re planning an event. However, by being prepared and having a good understanding of how to problem-solve, you can avoid or solve any issue that comes your way!
Do YOU have any other tips for solving problems at events? Share them with us in the comments below!
As always, thank you for reading… And happy planning! 🙂