Are you making these event mistakes?

written by
hosted by
Luke Miller
published on
January 27, 2016

1. Assuming Everything Will Go Right

Events are the definition of Murphy’s Law: if it can go wrong, it will. I can’t tell you how many unprepared individuals I have seen at various events. These individuals are so flustered that they are unable to solve relatively simple problems. They rush over to us and say “CAN I PLEASE BORROW SOME DUCT TAPE!?!” or “Do you have an extra extension cord?” It’s usually our over preparedness that allows us to say yes to these types of questions, but I have to shake my head knowing that this was easily avoidable.

When we plan an event here at #TheShop, we take every precaution to make sure anything that could go wrong already has a solution in place. We sit down as a team and think every little thing though. We encourage our team to play devil’s advocate and ask questions early in the process. If you have an asset that requires internet, make sure you’ve tested the connection. If you have a booth that needs power, bring extra extension cords. If you have something that burns gas, bring extra gas. The solutions are often so simple they are silly, but I am amazed by the number of people who aren’t ready when problems happen…and problems will happen.

Pro Tip: Make sure staff knows where the nearest home improvement stores, gas stations, ship and print centers, and hospitals are. This way, even if you aren’t as prepared as you should be, you know where you might be able to quickly solve the problem.

2. Not Being In Attendance

You don’t always have to attend every event as the producing agency, but there are certain circumstances where it is absolutely necessary.

  • The first event: if you aren’t at the first event (and sometimes even second and third) in a series of events, you are asking for issues from the start. Accountability is an acquired trait, so if you aren’t there, how can you ask your staff to do the job you expect them to do?
  • Client in attendance: You are the face of this event and the only person with all the answers. If your client is there, you better be there…even if it requires spending a bit of money.

Pro Tip: If you are questioning whether or not you should be there…you should be there.

3. Not Practicing a Build Off Site

This really should go without saying, but practice makes perfect. I like to think of our role as puzzle makers. We bring together pieces of a much bigger puzzle, but puzzles don’t always go together like you hope (especially if you are missing a piece). By doing something as simple as a practice or dry run before sending your assets out, you are saving a lot of potential heartache. You will be able to know if something is missing or doesn’t work property and fix it before it’s ever a problem.

Pro Tip: Flying everyone in can be expensive, so if you can’t afford to make that happen utilize modern technologies like video conferencing to make sure everyone has witnessed the build with their own eyes.

4. Under Staffing

There is nothing worse than being shorthanded at an event. Sure, it’s really easy to save money by cutting back on staff, but you stand to lose far more money if you lose your client. Think everything through and beef up staff. If you don’t have the budget to do this, but you have three people from the agency on site, make sure they are ready to get their hands dirty.

Staff are the engine behind events. Hire quality staff from a reputable staffing agency. It’s better to have two great staff members than seven lousy ones. Take the time to review the candidates for your program. Staff are not one size fits all, so don’t make the mistake of thinking they are. One person might be great at sampling, but terrible with interaction. Make sure you find people that suit your needs.

Pro Tip: Staffing is a quick way to make an event go terribly wrong. Take the time to get it right.

5. Over Estimating

Don’t give your client false hope when it comes to event metrics. It’s better to surprise them with incredible numbers than to disappoint them with underwhelming results. Have a realistic conversation with your client and make sure they understand what they can expect. It’s a fine line between providing the client with satisfactory estimates that meet their ROI expectations and over estimation, so be sure to carefully think out every possibility.

The old adage goes: under promise, over deliver. You can’t guarantee success, so just have an honest conversation with the people that matter.

Pro Tip: Dialog is the best thing when it comes to metrics. Have the conversation early and often.

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