Organizing events is hugely rewarding, but can also be pretty stressful. If you’re feeling little fed up, don’t worry—you’re not alone in your frustrations. It’s paramount that you have a well-rounded idea of any challenges that may come your way and how to intelligently handle them—or better yet—hire a professional who knows how to avoid each obstacle. Our Event Managers at BESTAgency have encountered each of the below frustrations and handled them with grace, learning from each experience. We are here to walk you through each challenge, so that your final event is AMAZING!
We have been there, know what to do, how to navigate it, and make each event the best experience ever. If we could teach a class in event planning and how to get the information you need from clients, these are the things we would include in Event Planning 101:
- HAVE A BUDGET IN MIND
Budgeting is the number one most challenging aspect of event planning. As a planner, whether the budget your client has given you is small, sufficient, or extravagant, it can be challenging to work with, and stick to, any budget that is not unlimited. Even more challenging than having a budget in mind is the client that comes to you with no budget—not an unlimited budget, but they don’t know if they want to spend $50 or $50,000. The planner should discuss the client’s wants, needs, and must haves to get an idea of what the budget would look like for the ideal event. From there, they can agree on a range that works to meet their goals.
It is of the utmost importance that planners build a cushion into the budget so that they are able to stick to it, even if the prices of specific items or services rise considerably during the planning state of the event. The worst thing you can do for both parties (the client and the planner) is to pitch a budget that is too small resulting in under delivering on the client’s side, and losing money on the planner’s side.
Ultimately, it is up to the event planner to get creative and innovative with the budget provided. You need to be resourceful in finding more cost effective suppliers and be up front with them about the budget you have been given to work with. If you don’t know how to pick a budget for your event, then see our post about why you should hire an event planner.
- ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP PLAN
Dedicated attention to detail, a significant amount of time, and well-synchronized teamwork is required in planning a successful event. Creators have a tendency to be so excited to jump into action that they rush through the planning phase. As a result, they end up facing situations they could have prepped for earlier. The more time you spend planning your event, the less time will be required for executing your plan. A well-rounded plan is a pathway; once that is formed, it will be easy to coordinate all of the activities so that they serve a common goal.
A hazard of too little planning, is no backup plan. Extreme weather (35 degrees and raining on April 29th in Las Vegas) has increased in both frequency and intensity this past decade, which is why it’s good to err on the side of caution when preparing for your event, even if it’s in beautiful Las Vegas during the perfect spring months! Whether you need to disaster-proof your outdoor wedding venue, or come up with a plan just in case your garden party gets rained out, (or any other non-weather related emergencies) create event plans B,C,D, and E. Fingers crossed they never need to see the light of day, but having them in your back pocket will help you think fast on your feet.
- STICK TO YOUR SCHEDULE
Running out of time is a major event planning problem. Fight the urge to under budget your time by getting good at understanding which tasks are important, but not urgent. You can also prepare by giving vendors and partners strict deadlines and more than enough headway before their part of the decision-making, planning, or set up process needs to be complete.
Attendees will appreciate arriving to an event that is fully ready for them, which is why it is absolutely paramount that you, as the planner, give your partners plenty of time—or as much time as the venue will allow—to get everything taken care of. You might find out that the venue has another event before, or after, you which will dictate your hard in or out. Details like this can slip through the cracks of any complicated event planning process, but thinking ahead and communicating with everyone from the venue manager, to your catering company, to your rental team will really help make sure the event begins and ends on a high note.
Having a planner schedule the event minute to minute from guest arrival through departure and communicating that timeline to each vendor, caterer, partner, speaker, etc. will ensure the event runs on time. In addition, an on-site program director will coordinate with each party making sure that every piece of the event happens according to the timeline. When a timeline is well-planned and communicated from original concepts, through creation, execution, and tear down, there are few reasons for any piece of your event to run behind.
- GO FOR THE GOLD
As event planners, we are faced with pitching our ideas before there is a contract in place. We are regularly in situations where we are about to design an event, but must consider how much creativity and time to put into it without giving away our crown jewels. Protecting our creative ideas so that a client doesn’t use the ideas themselves, or suggest them to another agency, is always a risk. The ultimate outcome is that we want our vision to become a reality by winning the business.
We strongly believe that ideas are only part of the picture, it’s the delivery of these ideas that is truly the key. On the first proposal, give examples of what the event could look like given the cost and timeline constraints of the project. Once phase one is accepted, move on to phase two where you will present a more thoroughly laid out plan. If everyone remains on the same page throughout this process, then the client is sure to move forward with you carrying the torch.
- AVOID PLANNER’S BLOCK
Like writer’s block for event planners, at some point in your career you’ll inevitably find yourself feeling uninspired, burnt out, or completely creatively and artistically drained. Whether you’re struggling to come up with fresh, new, original ideas for functions, or are feeling stuck in a rut, taking up a new hobby that forces you to express yourself in a way that you are not used to, or even taking a vacation, can help wipe the mental slate clean so that you can start fresh when filling in the beautiful blank canvas of your next big event!
Once the ideas are flowing, you want to create memorable events and experiences that keep guests talking. If your event is meant to have the wow-factor or to stand out and be one-of-a-kind, write down your first three ideas on paper. Then, scrap them. They’ve definitely been done before. Now, ideas 4, 5, and 6—they might be worth pursuing.
- SET STRICT DEADLINES
When the client doesn’t know their event goals, desires, or purpose and they are unclear of the theme or event content, it’s difficult to tailor the event to their needs. The more information the client can provide, the more specific we can be with suggesting the perfect options. Having all of the information up front saves time, energy and manpower, which ultimately saves money! If you go into your initial meeting knowing what you want and the budget you have to spend, it will save you time and money (and headache) in the long run.
In addition, waiting on stakeholders to make decisions regarding proposal elements like catering and decor is a frustration. The venue, design, and entertainment hugely affect the standard of your event, so what do you do if the client is dragging their feet to make decisions, knowing that they could lose out on their first choices? Do you confirm the venue or vendors without the definite ‘yes?’ Event planners must convince clients that once ideas are presented, the sooner we can move forward to officially contracting and booking suppliers, the better the event will be.
All of these frustrations can be avoided if strict deadlines are set and adhered to. Let the client know the timeline ahead of schedule—outlining when each decision must be made, then continue to follow up as deadlines near. This will ensure on-time delivery of important decisions to keep the process moving forward.
- BE PREPARED FOR LAST MINUTE CHANGES
One of the most frustrating experiences for an event planner is a major last minute change of direction in messaging, branding, or theme. It can be extremely difficult to re-theme and re-brand an event at short notice without eating money and blowing the budget. Last minute additions (or cancellations) to the guest list can also cause a major headaches—changing the food and beverage requirements, seating assignments, and more. Especially in this 2021 post pandemic event season, we will have to be very careful with the attendee count and may not be able to accommodate last minute additions.
When trying to bring an ambitious project to fruition there will always be frustrations to face, but by there very nature event planners are well equipped to deal with them. When a difficulty pops up, event organizers come into their own deploying their well-honed organizational skills, creativity and problem solving abilities. It’s also important to make sure that you assess all requests for event-related changes through the lens of how it will affect your budget and timeline. This means following up with key stakeholders, keeping communication to one centralized accessible platform, and organizing your event project notes so that nothing slips between the cracks.
- STAY ON TOP OF NEW TECHNOLOGY
Your client saw an awesome feature for an event, and they want you to recreate it, now what? It can be challenging for event organizers to stay on top of the latest technology trends. Whether this means keeping up with the newest aesthetic trends, or keeping up with the technology (the many new virtual event platforms out there), getting behind can seriously impact your ability to find and retain clients. We live in a fast-paced, technologically driven world, where rapid-fire change and development is unavoidable. Make sure the that you’re hip with the kids, and that you’ve got a contact in your back pocket for everything from laser light design to drone videography.
- DON’T STRESS OVER MULTIPLE EVENTS
If you haven’t learnt to juggle, you’re going to have to learn now—event managers are world-class jugglers who often handle multiple events being planned, and even happening at the same time. While it can be difficult to handle multiple events simultaneously, compartmentalizing can really help!
Whether this means color-coded binders or post-it notes all over your desk, you need to be on top of your game at all times to avoid confusing one event with another when you’re dealing with caterers, decor, vendors, and the clients themselves! While it can be a fun challenge to plan and manage to two (or more) completely different events at the same time, planning and managing two very similar events for two clients at the same time can be trickier—how do you decide which client gets which idea you had? Or which client gets to make use of your preferred service provider if you’re planning two events for the same day? Time management and good listening skills are key to planning and managing two events at the same time. We’ll let you in on a little secret… no matter how similar two clients’ visions for an event may seem, (most of the time) they’ll tell you exactly what they want and exactly what makes their vision for the event so different from what everybody else has done in the past, if you’ll only listen closely and carefully enough. Read between the lines to get a feel for your clients and the companies they represent so you can pitch and plan accordingly. You’ll soon see that if you pay close enough attention, their ideas and corporate identities are completely unique.
- KNOW LOCAL LEGAL AND FIRE CODE REGULATIONS
When your client wants the wow-factor and you’re not sure whether or not their big idea is even legal, you can find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place. If you tell the client “no” you risk losing them, but indulging them could land you and your company in hot water with local authorities, venue owners, or even the law! Especially when dealing with international clients, what is legal where they come from might not be legal where they are hoping to host their function. Whether the client wants fireworks, horse-drawn carriages, or something akin to South Africa’s infamous ”sushi girls,” it’s your job to figure out what you can pull off within the constraints of the law, both of the area and the rules and regulations of your service providers and vendors. Before committing to something outside of the box, just make sure you are 100% sure that it is doable and allowed by the venue and any relevant jurisdiction.
You also need to make sure that you are familiar with area fire codes—the venue manager can help with their specific space, but you should have an overview of what is permitted in your area. Familiarize yourself with aisle width requirements, maximum capacity of the space, etc. Also, make sure that there is easy access to all doorways. When you know the codes, you can save yourself a ton of headache when the fire marshal comes to inspect the space before the event starts.
Pro Tip: It is also vital that you ensure that your company as a whole is in compliance with all local and national government regulations—or it could cost you business! It is important to ensure that your business insurance is in order, and that you are adequately covered. The last dictates that you have certain insurance policies and / or contribute to certain government funds depending on the nature of your business.
You should know that you won’t necessarily face all the issues mentioned above when planning your next event. These are some of the many challenges we face as event managers—so we can make sure that you (the client) never has to! One of the most important skills we possess is the proper mindset—we see obstacles as learning opportunities and will come up with innovative ways to overcome them.
Ultimately, event planning and management can be an incredibly rewarding job; however, it is not without its unique challenges. The faint of heart need not apply. Planning a client’s event is like being a surrogate mother—you’re literally responsible for someone else’s baby, in this case, their brain-child. Your clients entrust you with their vision, and you are the miracle-worker who knows just what to say and do to make it happen. So whether you’re testing the waters and checking out potential challenges preemptively, or whether you found yourself backed into a corner, resorting to googling your way out of it, we hope you find event management as thoroughly fulfilling and pleasurable as we do! In the case that you are still struggling to find your way, no matter where you are, we are here to help! Feel free to reach out the BESTAgency Events Team whenever you need a friendly event planner to help you along the way.