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10 Decisions Event Planners Regret Forever

By Becki Cross

Sometimes event planners make the wrong choices. Here are 10 bad decisions you could regret forever.

Most event professionals are amazingly accommodating and will bend over backwards to find a solution to any issue. Admitting defeat is almost seen as a sign of weakness. We can make almost anything happen if we put our minds to it!

Sometimes though this obliging event manager mindset can also be our downfall. In our steely determination we can take decisions that we will come to regret in the long run. Here are the most common regrets of event planners.   

10 Decisions Event Planners Regret Forever
  1. Not Trusting Your Gut Instinct

Event professionals are often intuitive and have high emotional intelligence. It may sound cliched but sometimes you just get a gut feeling about something. More often than not this reaction can be spot on, like some kind of weird sixth sense. At the same time because it isn’t always based on (or perhaps even goes against) facts and figures or general consensus it can be hard to listen and act accordingly. We can sometimes simply dismiss these feelings as irrational but, when we do, we can live to regret taking that path.

Top tip: Trust your instincts. Don’t be pressurized into something that just “doesn’t feel right”. Say no and walk away if you are feeling unsure.

  1. Accepting an Impossible Deadline


As event planners we often get pushed and squeezed on event deadlines and work magic to pull a successful event out of the hat in less than ideal timescales. In many cases event lead times seem to be getting shorter and shorter. Sometimes though the project timeline is truly ridiculous and you know deep down that by agreeing you are setting yourself up for failure or risking your good reputation.

Event planners can move mountains but putting on an event relies on more than one person so the magic isn’t just down to your own conjuring skills. The biggest issue with tight timelines is that everyone else may not be able to prioritize and deliver in the same way as you can, which has a detrimental effect on the whole event if there is no time for any slippage. Furthermore, if you are not giving sufficient notice well in advance the chances of potential attendees being free to come along are vastly reduced.

Top tip: Think about how short is too short by working backwards from the event date. Even scaling back can you deliver the event to a standard you are happy with? Is it even realistic? What are the real risks and outcomes of getting involved?

  1. Not Charging Enough


Event planning is a time consuming affair and, however comprehensive the brief, at times it can be difficult to accurately set your fee for managing an event. Fee proposals are often approved on a fixed fee basis, rather than a time-charge basis, so often your profit margin can be eroded if you don’t accurately calculate the work involved. Nothing can be more demoralizing than slogging your guts out knowing that there is little or not return for it at the end.

Top tip: Spend time understanding the brief and realistically costing up the likely time and overheads of being involved. Also ensure that you analyze each event after it is over and calculate how much money you really made, or didn’t make, so you can adjust and fine tune for future projects.

  1. Working with a Second Rate Supplier

Relationships matter and it is comforting to work with vendors you know and trust. Sometimes though this isn’t possible. Perhaps your preferred supplier is already booked up, your venue or client locks you into working with specific vendors or price means that you have to compromise. If you are not working with your first choice supplier and things go wrong it can have massive implications for your event and be a big regret. On the other hand if it all goes well you may develop another great contact to partner with on future events.

Top tip: Invest more time with new suppliers to develop clear expectations about your way of working and the specific details of the event project, including contingency planning and walk throughs.

  1. Not Moving Fast Enough


Ever had a great idea but not moved fast enough to seize the opportunity and do something about it? Before you know it someone else has a similar idea to yours and moves more quickly to make it happen. Next thing, they are first to market and sprinting into the distance, leaving you forlorn and blocking you from moving forward on your idea without looking like you copied them.

Top tip: If you truly believe in an idea give yourself the time and space to assess it properly. If you are passionate about it then do something about it and make a start TODAY.

  1. Letting Go of Control

Perfectionist or control freak? Many eventprofs can struggle with delegation and letting go. This is generally something that we need to get better at and work harder to avoid being a micromanager. Sometimes though you can be protective and territorial with good reason, knowing that you need to keep a tight hold over the event and that relinquishing control isn’t right at this point in time.   

Top tip: If you feel like you need to keep a tight grip every once in a while don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead recognize why you feel this way and how you can let go and feel more comfortable in the future. Can the event or project be a training opportunity for your team, ready for the time you can step back and let the project fly?

  1. Not Taking Time Out


In this crazy world of event planning it is possible to get addicted to the event planning cycle. You can get stuck in the habit of working too much until you almost forget how to switch off and relax. No one can work relentlessly without facing burnout so you need to take every opportunity to enjoy any down time between events or schedule a few days break into your calendar. Don’t let time pass you by and then you will be refreshed and better prepared and ready for the hard slog when you really do need to put the extra hours in. Otherwise when you are finishing another 18 hour day you will be regretting not taking the opportunity to kick back when you could.  

Top tip: Outside of peak times consciously try to finish work at a reasonable hour or even escape somewhere for a few days break. Unplug from working life and break the cycle of your event planning addiction.  

  1. Compromising Your Standards

Sometimes the client or your boss have different ideas or standards to your own. Sometimes against your better judgement you will “go with the flow”. A level of compromise can be good of course, but if it completely changes the vision, delivery and impact of the event then you need to stand your ground or have frank discussions about what this could really mean for the event.

Top tip: Explain why you believe your way of doing things is the best way for the event and your concerns for doing things differently, including outlining the worst case scenarios. Use your experience to convey your standpoint.

  1. Not Standing Firm on Price

Have you ever put in a fee proposal and been knocked down on price as the client “didn’t have the budget”? You ignore the warning signs and agree to the reduced fee to secure the project. Next thing you are told that you need to cut down and make savings in every area of the event and not only has your fee been cut back you are also now working doubly hard to try to find everything cheaper and source alternative suppliers that can work for less. Even worse, the event could be pulled completely.

Never again you say!

Top tip: If you have to negotiate over your fee sometimes you should think twice about the wider implications. Before committing to the revised payment make sure that you understand the full situation and get reassurances in terms of the wider budget. You might also want to check your payment terms for payment upfront.   

  1. Not Investing in Yourself


It is easy to make the excuse that “you don’t have time” but then before you know it you are left behind or overlooked, with top projects and jobs going to other people instead of yourself. To keep ahead you need to find the time and motivation to invest in your own personal development. Whether it is training, learning new skills, getting more experience, reading widely or active networking make sure that you do not neglect your own personal growth and career development.  

Top tip: In a whirlwind of events time can fly by so make sure you set goals and deadlines you can work towards on a weekly or monthly basis.

In Conclusion

If you are faced with any of these scenarios think carefully, otherwise you could regret the decision for a long time to come. Sometimes it really is best just to “say no” and walk away. Stand firm, stay strong and trust your instinct to ensure that your professional reputation and personal sanity stay intact.


about the author

Becki Cross
Becki Cross is Managing Director of Events Northern Ltd, a UK event and conference management company established in 2004. Becki set up the business in her early twenties and is particularly passionate about conferences, innovation, entrepreneurship and the legacy of events. Becki is also the Deputy Editor, Community Manager and Contributor to EventMB, her dream job alongside event planning! Follow Becki via @beckitrain.
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