Event challenges: Common event planning mistakes to avoid
The role of an event planner is to make sure all goes smoothly when planning and hosting an event. We all know there are lots of moving parts when organising an event so it’s vital to prepare for every eventuality. Here are some common event planning mistakes to prepare for.
Why is event planning important?
Before we jump into event planning problems and solutions, we’re going to take a look at the importance of event planning itself. Without a solid plan in place, your event may not run as smoothly as you’d like. Your event staff could not have all of the key information they need, such as their roles or the event timetable, or where attendees should be and when. If an event goes wrong, your guests may leave with a negative experience and not want to return to any future events!
Successful event planning leads to an event that achieves its goals, stays within budget, and attendees have a memorable experience (for the right reasons). The common mistakes listed in this blog explore just some of the major challenges of planning an event, demonstrating the importance of good planning.
Of course, event planners have enough on their plate, and adding more to that to-do list may sound stressful. But there are ways around event challenges and you’ll always have your team to help. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need advice on staying calm and organised, then read our event planner’s guide on coping with stress for tips.
10 event planning mistakes and solutions
When it comes to planning events, experience is one of the best ways to learn. It’s common for mistakes to happen – it’s how you deal with them that makes you stand out as an event planner.
Sadly, there’s no way to undo mistakes during an event, so it’s important to cover as many bases as possible. We’re going to look at ten common event planning mistakes, why they happen, and the event planning solutions.
1. Not thinking about the experience of your attendees
Your attendees are the heart of your event. So, as you plan, you need to keep their experience in mind.
Walk through the event, considering it from the perspective of an attendee. Can you easily navigate the event venue, or do you need clear signage? Will any queues clash with each other, causing congestion? Little things like this can make all a difference.
You should also consider why people are attending your event. This is an opportunity for them to meet with like-minded people and share knowledge, so include time for networking in the schedule. Slotting in too many talks can leave audiences feeling mentally drained, especially as the day goes on, and without time to break it up they may struggle to take something away from your event.
Make sure that there are breakout spaces in your venue, and add some wiggle room in between talks. Attendees can then meet sponsors, visit stalls, interact with exhibits or simply grab a drink with friends.
2. Understaffing your event
You can’t run an event by yourself. Make sure you have more than enough staff on the day to help attendees or jump on a different area if needed, including the catering and tech teams. Speak to stakeholders and vendors to find out what they need. If they need more help during certain times of the day, one of your team members can lend a hand.
Outline each person’s role to ensure all bases are covered, and share these with all staff in the lead up to the event. If team members have secondary roles (for when another team needs help), then make sure to clearly set these out too. This way, everyone will know who to turn to and when. Our guide to managing event volunteers includes tips to help ensure you hire the right staff for your event.
3. Not having a complete event management plan
You may have lots of to-do lists to get through, they might not give the full picture from start to finish’. It’s important to create a master plan or timeline as it shows everyone what they’re working towards, and ensures you’re all on the same page.
An overall event management plan also helps you take a step back and see how the event is going as the day gets closer. There’s less chance of missing deadlines or losing track of your overall event goal. It can also help create a more streamlined workflow, as your team will know who to go to at certain stages of planning and be more aware of what else is going on behind the scenes.
Another key element of an event management plan is risk management. Developing a risk management plan means installing a risk identifying process to prevent any serious issues from occurring later down the line. This includes both safety and business finance risks. Incorporating event risk analysis into your overall strategy creates a better planning process. Your attendees will have a better experience, too.
4. Not checking the local area for other events
The last thing you want for your event is to compete with other events in the area, especially if they’re targeting similar audiences or are in close proximity to your own. You want to give as many people a chance to attend your event as possible, and less competition will aid this.
If another event is close enough, it may interfere with yours. If it’s a performance, They could be playing loud music or hijack the availability of your dream speakers. This is why, before you finalise your date, you should check if anything else is scheduled in the area.
Reach out to local event planners and businesses to see if there are any upcoming events. Follow local notice boards and social media pages too, and market your event well to ensure everyone is clear on the date. Speak to your event venue to see if they’re aware of anything happening within the local area.
If you’re currently planning your event, read our guide on how to choose a guest speaker, so you can avoid any potential pitfalls for your event.
5. Not confirming with vendors
When it comes to organising event vendors, there are plenty of things that can go wrong. There could be a lack of staffing (emergencies happen!), or the vendor themselves may not communicate that often. You need to get written confirmation at least a day or two before the event, confirming everything discussed in the lead up. This includes:
- Arrival times – make sure this doesn’t clash with many other vendors, so you can give each one your undivided attention during setup.
- What they are providing
- Triple check invoicing
This is also handy to have for worst case scenarios – providing you with proof of what you agreed to show event insurance.
6. Overspending event budget
Budgeting is one of the larger event management challenges. When planning an event, changes come up which makes it harder to track budgets, especially if there are breakdowns in communication within the team’
When you first start budget planning, look back at previous events you or your business have hosted. This way, you’ll have an idea of what the client expects and how much it will cost.
Make sure you communicate regularly with everyone to reduce more spending. Schedule meetings often and have a system in place that allows you to keep track of what is being spent. If something goes wrong and you need to make changes e.g. switching vendors or software, don’t make these changes blindly. Review current spending and ensure that they won’t take too much of your budget.
7. Not allowing enough time for set up
Nothing says a bad first impression like attendees turning up to see you’re still preparing. It goes without saying that you need to arrive at your event venue as early as possible to ensure you have plenty of time to set up. Attendees don’t want to turn up and see everyone running around in a last minute panic!
Check with your venue to see if there’s an event before or after yours, so you know exactly how much time you have for setting and packing up. Make sure to communicate this to all team members, including vendors and speakers – especially if they’re the first or last ones to present. It’s also recommended that, when having a dry run of the event in the lead up, including a runthrough of set up as well to get an idea of how long it will take.
8. Event tech back ups
There are so many tech challenges faced when planning an event. The internet may cut out, people have issues logging into software, or speakers lose their presentations and don’t have any back ups. And these are just three examples!
The first step in preventing tech issues is to make sure everyone knows how to use the technology, including speakers. Make sure all event staff know how to use communication equipment and any software attendees will be using e.g. check-in apps, so they can answer any questions and help them out if need be. You should also make sure these apps are easy for attendees to use, and do not slow down the sign-in process. You don’t want to risk frustrating an attendees’ experience before the event begins.
Check what your venue already has available , and if there’s anything you need to bring. Ideally test everything beforehand – and we mean everything. If your event venue has tech support, speak to them to see if there’s anything you should know about the equipment, and also encourage your speakers to bring back ups of slides – whether on a memory stick or printed – so they can continue even if there are any event mishaps
9. Not preparing for too many attendees
This one may seem like an unlikely situation, but it can happen. If there’s no cap on tickets in the lead up to the event, or attendees can purchase tickets both before and at the event itself, too many people can turn up, leading to overcrowding.
There are a few measures you can take to prevent this:
- You’ll already know the maximum number of guests that venue can accommodate, but, before the event, you should think about how much of that space is usable. If stalls and booths will be added, then that’s less usable space. You can use a capacity calculator to help with this. This also applies to seated venues – if there are seats with poor sightlines, then these can also be deemed as unusable.
- Make sure to track ticket sales in the lead up to the event, as well as forums and social media mentions, in case users intend to purchase tickets on the day. Google Alerts can help with this.
- We recommend ticketing your event, even if it’s free, so you can avoid the situation of having to turn people away. If the event is more popular than planned, you can pencil in another date in the future or liaise with the venue to see if they have another space available.
- If you’re not in a position to print tickets, then try platforms such as MeetUp. You don’t need physical tickets for this, and can easily see how many people are interested in attending your event.
- If you do end up needing to turn people away, offer compensation. This could be a discount on future events, or event freebies.
10. Trying to do everything by yourself
As an event planner, you may feel that the entire planning process sits on your shoulders. We’ve already mentioned how stressful the life of an event planner can be – so why not make event planning as easy as possible?
Make sure you have enough staff on hand to help work through tasks, bounce ideas off and jump in when you need them to, especially if things don’t go to plan. If you’re concerned about budget, then try hiring volunteers instead.
Whoever you hire, it’s important that you play to your team’s strengths. Delegate tasks based on job roles and abilities so that you can spend more time on more important tasks. If staff are also struggling to keep up with the workload, you may need to recruit more helpers to prepare the event in time.
Finally, make sure you find time to yourself during the planning process, and step away if things feel too overwhelming. Becoming burnt out can affect the way you work and take the joy out of event planning. So remember to take a day off – your team will have your back.
Navigating event management challenges with 20 Bedford Way
We make event planning easier here at 20 Bedford Way. Our event and tech teams are both on hand to help sort any issues, offering the latest technology available to ensure that your event goes off without a hitch.
Our flagship venue Logan Hall has a capacity of 910, providing plenty of space for your attendees. Its central London location means that both guests and speakers can make their way here easily.