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10 Things Event Planners Dread Hearing

By Kelli White
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As event planners we spend a lot of our time listening to the needs and desires of others. From the event staff to our attendees we always stay tuned in to the sounds and needs surrounding our events. Unfortunately as the person in charge we are tasked with hearing the good, the bad and the ugly surrounding our events.

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Our clients, vendors, staff and venues usually work to try and make our jobs easier, but on occasion, they can unfortunately make things much more challenging. During this exciting career there are many things we get to hear and see, some crazier than others, but there are a few things that we can all agree we dread hearing.

  1. “Someone...is a no show”

The people important to the success of your event can range from speakers and VIP guests to staff members and important vendors such as transportation or caterers. Every event has key players that must deliver in order for your event to go off without a hitch. Whenever one of these people fall through or drop the ball, it puts tremendous pressure on the planner to think under pressure and come up with a viable back-up plan.

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  1. “Something... is not working”

Technical issues seem to always arise at the wrong time. From printer issues to WiFi service there are a number of technical items we rely on to make our events a success. We all dread hearing about an important tool or service malfunctioning. It isn't always technology.

  1. “Something... is missing”

Each event has so many moving parts and a large number of items that must fall into place and be ready at a moment's notice. So when an item goes missing, all hell can break loose, especially if it is something important! Everything from a large item like a tent or a vehicle, all the way down to those tiny table tents that identify seating arrangements. If something is unable to be found we must scramble to come up with an alternate plan.

  1. “Something or someone…. is already booked”

In this business you work with a variety of vendors and venues. Many of which book months and even years in advance. Some of the worst news you can hear as a planner is that your ideal venue or prefered vendor is unavailable on your event date. Do your best to confirm dates early and get on the calendar for your big ticket items.

  1. “Something… is double booked.”

Not only is it sometimes tough to get a service booked, but occasionally someone makes an error and an important item on your event checklist becomes double booked. Unfortunately some vendors are not always the most organized people and, from time to time, they make mistakes (as we all do!). This is never a fun thing for a planner to deal with, but it can happen and you must adapt and find an alternative solution.

  1. “Something… has changed with the weather.”

Oh, the weather! The one thing we can’t ever control, as much as we wish we could. We all plan for the worst and hope for the best, but when something changes quickly we never look forward to the chaos that can ensue. If you are having an outdoor event, be prepared for every possible scenario. You never know when something will pop up and you want your team to be ready for anything to ensure the safety of your attendees.

  1. “Someone ...has fallen ill or been injured.”

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Illness and injury can happen at any event. Every planner dreads the thought of having to deal with a serious situation that involves the safety and well being of one of their guests, but you must be prepared for anything to happen. Having an emergency response plan and knowing how you will react to something serious happening at your event is important to prepare for. From experience, we all know that bad things can happen, but it is how you react and respond to them that will show your grit and professionalism as an event manager.

  1. “Someone… has changed their mind.”

If only people could make decisive decisions quickly. Many clients have trouble making decisions and often times they change their mind at the last minute. This can be annoying and can wear any eventprof down to their wits end. Just know that it will happen and you need to do your best to please the client and maintain a positive attitude. Some requests will be unreasonable and perhaps they will change their mind when it is too late, but you will be the person tasked with finding the best all around solution.

  1. “Someone…is being difficult to work with.”

You will work with challenging people at every stage of your career, but when you find of someone that is not fun to work with or has a bad attitude it makes your life very difficult as the person in charge. Sometimes this might be a staff member that you can replace, but other times it might be a client or a vendor that you are forced to cooperate and communicate with. Do you best to be clear and follow up to ensure everyone is on the same page during your event. Having an open line of communication and having a positive outlook, no matter the situation, will go a long way in building relationships and making even the most difficult people easier to work with.

  1. “Something… is non negotiable.”

Negotiation is key to many of the deals we make as eventprofs. Without the ability to negotiate we are often limited in our choices and ultimately the ability to make a profit. Finding out that a line item on a contract or a price point is not up for negotiation can be a big setback in your planning process. Start early and work on negotiating prior to signing anything. Most vendors are easier to negotiate with when they are trying to win your business. Once terms have been agreed upon you will be left with less leverage in your negotiations.

In Conclusion

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All events come along with a certain level of surprise. You never know what might arise during your event, but you can do your best to be prepared for the situations above. The longer you work in the industry the more experience you will have in developing backup plans for when you have to hear one of these dreaded statements. The challenges are part of what makes this career exciting and fulfilling. Plans will change, schedules will be shifted and you will grow as an event planner every time you have to deal with one of these difficult situations.

 

about the author

Kelli White
Kelli White has 10 years experience in event management, creative marketing, volunteer coordination and non-profit fundraising. You can follow her at @kellimwhite.
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