Organizing an event needs precise planning. But no matter how good the event management is going one thing always seems to prove true: “Something always goes wrong!” Organizing a perfect event where nothing goes wrong seems to be an undertaking of utopian proportions. Little mistakes happen just too easily, often without you being responsible. But from all of these mistakes one can learn how to improve and prevent these problems for future events.
A good event starts with precise planning in cooperation with the client, followed by the professional execution of the event. Here, unpredictable incidents should always be included in the planning and one should be able to react as flexible as possible. Every detail is important. A small mistake might not seem like a lot of trouble at first glance, but could destroy the positive overall picture of the event. This in consequence affects the event’s success and the clients’ satisfaction – and the client demands nothing else but perfection. In order to recognize and correct any problems, it is always a good idea to arrive at the event location at least one hour prior to the event. There you should go through the event schedule once again together with the client, the service staff and everyone else involved. Also make sure to check all documents like hand-outs, name badges and menus before the event starts. When you detect any problems or mistakes, make sure to immediately contact the responsible person and ask for correction. Not everyone may like your critical comments, but after all you are responsible for the event’s success and, ultimately, the customer’s satisfaction. But don’t forget to always give your criticism in a constructive and polite way because no one likes grumpy service staff – and good-humoured staff gives good service. Furthermore, the event management team, service staff and caterers are important partners in every event. A good relation and mutual appreciation can be a huge advantage.
It may happen that a guest does not show up although he registered for the event. To avoid this, one should always follow up on the guests, even after they have registered. By following up on them you can remind them of the upcoming event and make sure they haven’t forgotten about it. Following up by phone might be the best idea because with emails you always risk that people do not receive or read them. Even if you cannot reach the guest himself, make sure to give the secretary a call. The follow up call can also be used to clarify any remaining questions the attendees might have. But despite all your carefulness you should always anticipate that someone does not show up. A certain amount of no-shows should always be allowed for. However, it is all the more pleasant when suddenly one extra guest shows up. This might not happen all too often but when it does you should be prepared and ready to react quickly. Welcome and treat the surprise guest like any other guest. Tell the chef and service staff that one extra meal needs to be prepared and make sure you have some additional documents ready for the new guest. In case you don’t have any name badge or hand-out for him, make sure to print some immediately. When no printer is available, politely apologize and make sure he receives all documents via email. Speaking of documents – always make sure to check all documents and name badges for spelling and other mistakes like printing errors. In case you notice any mistake make sure all affected documents are re-printed before the event. When this is not possible you will have to decide whether you want to hand out the faulty documents or send the documents via email after the event.
A good event manager should also be ready for spontaneous changes. Imagine that after weeks of careful planning your client wants to relocate the event to another room. This may be inconvenient but you should try to fulfil your clients’ wishes. Make sure to speak to the location manager about the room change. After all, your client is king. But it is a completely different story if neither you nor your customer is responsible for the sudden change of plans. If the location manager tells you that your room is not available due to a booking error, or the caterer comes up with a completely different menu than the one you ordered, you should promptly insist on immediate rearrangement. If not possible you should always demand a deduction from the original price.
For many attendees the highlight of the event is not the speeches or the networking but the food. No matter if it is just served as a snack or as the grand finale of the event, the food always stays in mind – maybe even longer than most information that was given in the event. Thus, every guest should be satisfied. Already start asking about dietary requirements during the invitation process or during the follow up to find out if there are any vegetarians, vegans or people with allergies among the guests. If you don’t follow up on that you might risk that not everyone can enjoy the food – or you will have to call an ambulance in the worst case. The timing should also be planned prior to the event: when and in which intervals should the courses be served? If a speech takes longer than expected, you should be flexible and tell the chef and service staff that the food should be served a few minutes later. If the food is already on the table but one of the guests is late, it is the host’s duty to give the starting signal.
After the – hopefully successful – event you should definitely do a feedback round together with the client and all other responsible parties to draw a conclusion: What went well? What went wrong? And what can we learn for future events? Furthermore, it might be a good idea to draft a debriefing document which gives an overview of everything that happened during the event, who took part in it and what the outcome was. This can also include a protocol of all speeches and discussions. Learn from your mistakes and be prepared to make sure your next event is a big success.
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