If you've planned and managed events already, you've probably made at least some of them: annoying and common event management mistakes.
Also, I guess you are familiar with the feeling that comes along with event management (if you're about to plan your first event, you'll soon be): your rushing through a minefield of disasters. Sounds just as comfy as it is.
|That's why it is everything but surprising that Forbes states: Event managers rank among the top ten “Most Stressful Jobs of 2015”.|
Planning and coordinating an event – let's just say as it is – is a huge amount of work. It requires specific skills, the right resources, a qualified team and adequate tools to back you up.
Above all, if you are organizing your first event, be aware you don't underestimate the workload. It is, however, not only the freshmen in the event industry who run the risk of making common event management mistakes. Even the old stagers slip from time to time.
Still, their advantage is: They have learned their lessons, even though some of them the hard way.
So, how about skipping the hard part and jumping right into the joy of event management? Sounds good?
Great, so let's learn some lessons, save ourselves some nerves and avoid having months of hard work ending up in:
- frustrated team
- disappointed visitors
- upset exhibitors
- annoyed speakers
- exhausted resources
- loss of credibility
Yap, that’s the stuff an event manager's nightmares are made of. Let’s make sure, we keep out of harm's way. Read on and you'll be on the safe side.
EVENT MANAGEMENT MISTAKE #1 : ACTING AS IF MURPHY'S LAW DIDN'T EXIST
Be prepared for everything. Not having backup plans and alternative options for every (or at least almost every) aspect of your event, can cause big troubles. Of course, it is always a hassle to deal with things that don't go the way they were planned. But trust me when I say that it's going to be much easier to handle, if you have considered solutions beforehand. Trying to find emergency solutions when the bomb has hit ground already, is quite a filthy job.
Besides, considering that defining your event management process is enough, can get you in big trouble. You want to make sure you've got both: a detailed plan of your event management process as well as a contingency plan.
Also, having the right team for the entire process is one of the most essential aspects. It only takes one stage that is not carried out the way it should be, and the whole event could go down the tubes.
In order to avoid that, one of the first steps of your event planning process should be an event risk assessment. Check the website of the Association of Event Organisers (http://www.aeo.org.uk/page.cfm/link=70) for more information.
Furthermore, choose each member of your team strategically in order to cover all the tasks with the right competences. Create a standardized event management process you can follow step by step for various events.
Set aside some time for team meetings to make sure that everyone's up to speed on their responsibilities and deadlines. Check if the communication between all the team members works efficiently. And make sure you've got all the stages of the event process covered:
Having the right event management technology (link to the first article) in place, is going to make this job so much easier for you.
That way you'll avoid common pitfalls like breaking the budget, last minute fiascos or, in
the worst case, the event falling through.
EVENT MANAGEMENT MISTAKE #2 : UNDERSTIMATING THE EVENT'S SCALE
Miscalculating the event's size is a typical beginner's mistake. It's a bad blunder that can cost you a lot of money and time. A lot of people need a lot of space and a lot of attention. And if you can't keep up with that, you will face a lot of problems. You will have to be prepared for:
- registering big amounts of people
- providing them with drinks, food and maybe also accomodation
- handling large groups of people running in and out of your event
And those are only a few things you have to consider.
In order to avoid the nasty surprise of an overcrowded event, do your research and try to make a realistic estimation about the number of attendees you can expect. If you've already organized some events, you'll be able to estimate your event's size more easily based on your experience.
If we are talking about your premier as an event manager, gather all the information you can get that backs up your estimation. Have speakers at your event? Check how many visitors they have drawn to events in the past. There are a lot of events in your industry? Find out what's the average number of attendees.
Once you've got reliable information, allocate adequate resources to make sure everything runs smoothly.
EVENT MANAGEMENT MISTAKE #3 : NOT KEEPING UP WITH CHANGES
If there's one constant in the whole event management process, it's probably change. Just as in daily life: everything changes constantly and most of the time, things turn out differently than you had planned for.
Think about how many people are involved in planning and organizing your event. How many tasks depend on one another? Now, imagine the outcome of not keeping track of the changes and not making sure everybody's updated on the current state of affairs.
Got the picture? Kind of feels like looking at an artwork from Picasso, right? Nothing seems to line up.
If you don't keep track of the progress, you will have to struggle with issues like unattainable deadlines, a drained budget and a lost team.
Put a centralized system in place that facilitates monitoring your entire planning process. The system should be able to:
- save your documents and track their changes
- give access to your team members
- feature your planning calendar and timeline
- manage resources
- send notifications by default when changes are made
- comment on any changes made by other team members
However, you shouldn't replace your team meetings or conference calls with the system.
|Communication between all the team members is the name of the game!|
EVENT MANAGEMENT MISTAKE #4 : BLOWING THE EVENT EXPERIENCE RIGHT AT THE CHECK-IN
Who wants to start an event with frustration? … Exactly! So, make sure you don't. A great event doesn't start with a huge line of people cooling their heels.
There are tons of technology solutions out there that help you to run your check-in process without a hitch. Are you considering to use fax documents to register your attendees and spread sheets for the check-in process? The world will be a better place, if you banish these thoughts for life.
Find a tech system that makes your check-in go like clockwork. You should have a real-time monitor of your event's attendance.
If you want to go for the real deal in terms of event management technology, choose a provider that connects registration, check-in and an attendee's report and feeds your database with all that information. Sounds wonderful? Well, wonders never cease!
EVENT MANAGEMENT MISTAKE #5 : NOT COUNTING ON EVENT PROMOTION 2.0
Speaking of wonders: Not reaching out to the digital wonderland for your event promotion is a huge mistake.
Spending big parts of your budget on traditional marketing like brochures, banner ads or ad spaces in magazines? Let me tell you: You could invest your money a lot more efficiently. Besides, you could leave a much better impression with your audience.
Right now, you are attacking your potential attendees (and all the other random people who happen to see your ad) with outdated mass communication.
Why not attract them instead of attack them? Why not speak to them in a personal way and create messages that are tailored to their needs and interests? All of that is possible.
Go digital. You can actually take communication between all of your events stakeholders digital. Don't limit yourself to a simple hashtag campaign you launch on Twitter. Take it to a whole new level of event communication:
|Engage your stakeholders on social media before, during and after the event.|
Step up the event experience, promote networking at your event and help to create lasting connections among your stakeholders. How? Digital media does the job. Here are a few other ideas for you to try when taking your event digital:
- Twitter: Keep your followers updated on relevant information regarding your event.
- Facebook: Post special offers for your Facebook followers and think of a campaign that requires user generated content. That way you will create a dynamic, interactive event experience even before the event has started.
- LinkedIn: Initiate a LinkedIn group and provide a home for discussions about your event.
- Instagram: Create a visual report of the event experience on your wall. Make people count the days till your next event takes place.
- Google+: Find communities interested in your industry and the purpose of your event and share your event with them.
Digital does not only include social media though. You should also set up a website for your event. But be careful! Here's another pitfall that could trap you. Pay attention to the details – they make the difference as we know.
If your event's website offers a poor UX, your first impression will be just as poor. Be convincing from the very beginning. A great event management technology solution should be equipped with a feature that let's you build nice, structured and appealing websites.
EVENT MANAGEMENT MISTAKE #6 : THINKING YOUR JOB ENDS WITH THE EVENT
After months of work and a (hopefully) successful event, you definitely deserve to get some rest. However, if you sit back and rest on your laurels now, you'll miss a great opportunity to create stronger connections to your attendees and might even miss out on sales opportunities.
If you don't communicate with your attendees after the event, you are wasting a great opportunity. Engagement! Tap the full potential of the moment after the event.
What's so special about this moment? Statistics show that your mails will get the highest open and click through rates.
Thank your attendees, show them you appreciated their attending the event, send them personalized offers based on the information you were able to gather at the event.
You should have a technology solution that lets you collect your visitors personal information quickly, easily and effectively. This will make your follow up actions a lot more valuable.
Want to grow your event? Improve the attendee's experience with each event you organize? So don't forget to keep in touch with your speakers, advertisers, journalists, attendees and venue staff. Following up with all of your stakeholders will definitely pay off. Did they do a great job? You wouldn't have been able to pull it off without them?
Let them know! Send them their well deserved thank you notes and you'll be forming a solid base for your next event.
I hope I was able to prove that even though event management comes with a lot of pitfalls, you can avoid many of them. It's pretty handy to know what to watch out for.
I think most importantly, you should draw up an action plan based on all the risks that can come up throughout the entire process. Even if it seems like a lot of work, in case something goes really wrong, you'll be happy to whip out your contingency plan. Don't wreck your event, rather rock it!
Of course there are many more event management mistakes to be aware of. So now, your turn: Do you want to add any to this list? Have you had to learn some lessons the hard way? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below!