An event planner’s biggest nightmare is committing a major mistake that will leave a lasting mark on his or her reputation. Like they say with performances, an event planner is only as good as his last event – so each one has to be consistently good, if not equally remarkable.
While making mistakes is part of the event planning learning experience, there are plenty of ways that the worst can be avoided. First step – recognize what they are. Next step, prepare for them.
Here are some precious insights for event planners that are worth taking note of:
1. Wrongly estimating a venue’s capacity.
Whether you are planning an event for a party of ten or a huge group of three hundred, it is important that an event planner takes careful note of how many persons the venue can comfortably accommodate. A sprawling function room may not look as spacious when it has tables, chairs, decor, food carts, and many other venue accents. Do consider the layout or configuration of the place as well. Does it have awkward corners? Are there columns or posts in the middle of the room? These aspects can affect the flow of foot traffic and can easily make a room look and feel cramped.
Know the measurements of the venue you’ll be using, along with the items you will be placing in the area. This will allow you to get a good estimate of their fit. It will also be helpful to take a quick peek of the venue when there is an ongoing event so you can see how it all pans out. Event planners can also look up photos of the place so they can check how arrangements can be done to maximize the venue’s capacity.
2. Great lack of assistance for event guests.
Even the most organized, most well-planned events require the presence of additional help. An event planner simply cannot have people manning the buffet, and that’s it. Station ushers who will help guests to check-in and register. Have people available to lead them to their respective tables, or even to just point their way to the restrooms. Parking assistants will also be a delight to have, as the vehicle situation can turn awry when the guests start pouring in. If at all possible, designate specific parking spaces, especially for the most important guests. Doing this will take the extra load off your shoulders, which simply means less stress for you as the event planner.
3. Not having a back-up plan – for everything.
Event planners must never feel too comfortable and secure with their routines that they fail to formulate and set the wheels turning on having a solid back-up plan for each aspect of the event. Small details can get overlooked and little changes can put the event off track. Don’t get rained on, run out of refreshments, or go over-budget – include possible problems that you can encounter in the planning stage. Get extra food and beverages in stock for those just-in-case moments. Work with your caterer on this. An event planner may also include a tick-off list for vehicles to be used in the RSVP card. This will give one an idea of how many cars need to have parking space on the day of the event. Give traffic and parking advisories in advance so guests can also plan their travel time. Check the weather before the event date, so you can easily make adjustments or bring out the rain gear as necessary.
Brainstorm with your team, and always make sure to consult your client on contingency suggestions too. This way, even when you need to use Plan B, it still agrees with your client’s needs and preferences.
4. Missing out on important details with other event suppliers.
Missing bouquets, wrong colors on the dessert spread, unwanted details on the cake – these may seem small or trivial, but to the client who pays attention to detail, these little things can easily spell disaster. Sometimes, it’s not really the event planner’s mistake. It can be the florist’s, the cake maker’s, the caterer’s – it can be the supplier’s fault. But, since you’re the event planner the client directly works with, they may all be tracked down to you.
How do you avoid a mistake that’s not even yours to make? It’s all about communication.
From the onset, be clear with other event vendors on what the client’s specific requirements are. Provide a detailed but organized list in print, and make sure to send a copy electronically too. A one-on-one discussion of these various aspects is also essential to touch base before the event proper. Make sure to update suppliers immediately when there are changes, so they can work around them too. Keep communication lines open, so they can reach out to you whenever clarification is necessary.
Not all events can be made perfect. One way or another, problems will crop up from out of nowhere. Instead of going the learning-by-experience route, you can go on a more smooth-sailing journey by making ample preparations to avoid or lessen the adverse impact of these possible mistakes.