12 Jan Event Management 101
When things go wrong….
Murphy’s law is a popular adage which states, “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong’ and it reigns especially true when managing events. Your approach to handling the fires that crop up during your event will determine if things start going in a negative direction of if your attendees carry on with little or no knowledge of the hiccup.
We’ve put together our top list of things that can frequently go wrong at events, and how to best handle them when they do.
1. No one shows up
It’s the biggest reason why event managers lose sleep in the weeks leading up to a big event. What if no one shows?
No shows are a particular problem for free events, where people are not motivated to attend by the financial investment they have made. For this reason, it’s often suggested to ticket and charge for the event, even if you decide to donate the proceeds to charity.
If this isn’t an option, then try using an online registration tool like Eventbrite or setting up a Facebook event that encourages attendees to list if they are ‘interested’ or ‘attending’. It’s not as definite as if guests were paying for tickets, but it can still give event organisers some reassurance that numbers are in the sought after range. A good rule of thumb is that it’s safe to assume a 20% drop out rate, so either create a standby list or factor this into the original estimate of numbers.
2. Extreme weather
We’d love to say that the most effective way to eliminate weather concerns, is to firstly strategically plan your outdoor event for the warmer months (generally November – March) but if the last few years are anything to by, the change to seasons has thrown these months into the unpredictable category.
At the end of the day, if you are faced with extreme weather on the day, you are basically left with four options – go ahead, relocate, postpone, or cancel.
So, what can you do to give you and your client the best chance of going ahead on the day, if relocating isn’t an option?
Be flexible with your timings – start the event and wrap it up earlier if necessary. Perhaps rain is only forecast in the morning or late in the afternoon. Get word out via social media to your audiences ASAP and then keep them updated on any changes to event timings throughout the day.
Utilising space – does your venue have covered areas or indoor spaces that can be used if it rains? If the answer is yes, make sure that they are kept available for use on the day and that you have the keys (if any are needed).
Furnishing – ensure that all tables and chairs, event equipment are weather proof. Beg, borrow, or steal marquees from local council/friends and family to have on hand just in case.
Contingency plans – have the extreme weather condition conversation early in the planning stages and factor a cost for this in the initial event management budget.
3. Keynote speaker or special guest doesn’t show
Eek, your guest speaker missed their flight and they will now miss their presentation. Best case practice in this scenario is to keep yourself across their travel plans. Fly them in the night before and factor in the extra night of accommodation into your budget for the sake of peace of mind.
Secondly, have a backup speaker prepared and ready to step in if necessary. It’s not ideal, but is a much preferable solution than having a hole in your order of proceedings. You can then maybe rejig the event timings to accommodate the keynote arriving later than planned. Just be sure to keep your delegates well informed of these changes.
Issues of the technological variety should almost be considered a given at any event. Your strategy for trying to avoid them should firstly including employing a solid AV partner/technician. The peace of mind that a technical expert on hand provides is well worth their fee.
Additionally, always schedule an AV check into your event running sheet as early as possible on the event day. It often isn’t until you have everything set up on stage, and in and around venue, that some of the IT issues even become clear. Think speaker volume and reach, electrical cords that are potential trip hazards, display screens not able to be viewed by everyone in the room. A full run through will eliminate these concerns early on.
Lastly, where possible, have a backup plan. Hire that second microphone. Purchase extra batteries. Ensure presenters bring their presentations on a USB stick AND send you a copy beforehand.
5. Lack of clear signage
First impressions count and one of the very first encounters that event goers will have with your event is before they even reach the doors. Ensure directional signage and maps are large, clear and placed in prominent positions, this will assist in helping people find their way stress free to your event.
Additionally, there is nothing more frustrating for delegates than attending a special event and being unsure about where the next presentation is being held. Avoid this by making sure that you display adequate signage that is easily read and understood. It’s better to go overboard here than leave your attendees left to continually ask for directions.
6. Know when to call the experts
In summary, event management is not for the faint-hearted because the probability of something going wrong is high.
Make it a non-negotiable rule of your own to always double and then triple check details. Have all key contacts and their phone numbers either pre-stored in your phone or easily accessible on a lanyard around your neck. Pre-empt issues where you can by staying two steps ahead of proceedings.
When in doubt, call the team at Redsteps to cover all event management aspects and leave the responsibility to us!