The last thing you might want to think about are the sneaky things that can sabotage your event, however, it’s good to give it some thought early in the planning process to avoid potentially show-stopping issues down the line. While there are many things that can thwart even the most perfectly planned events, these are some not-so-obvious ones to be aware of.
When tasked with planning an event, the first question, before venue, content, guest list, is “What do we want to accomplish with this event?” Without asking this question, it is possible that different stakeholders can have different priorities and you’ll have people in the same boat rowing in different directions. Particularly when you know your stakeholders want to discuss event ROI, you need to have clear goals at the beginning. Because event ROI can be difficult to measure, having clear goals for the event can help you better answer post-event ROI questions.
Inability to make decisions stalls the planning process and can result in increased fees and losing preferred venues and top vendors. At the root of indecision is the fear of making a wrong choice, but, it’s better to have made a choice and work to make it right (if it does actually need to be made right). To address this particular pitfall, it’s important to communicate to the planning group the many consequences of not making timely decisions.
Too many decision makers
Speaking of making timely decisions… Having a large planning group with decision-making power can derail an event at whiplash speed. The more people you have, the more opinions you have. Even if everyone is playing nicely, getting along, and are of similar opinion, trying to get a large group’s approval at different points in the planning cycle can result in missed deadlines, late fees and other unnecessary obstacles. In the event that a large planning group is unavoidable, try to get the group to agree to 1 or 2 deputized decision-makers so you only have to chase down 1 or 2 people for quick approvals.
Perhaps it’s the really neat event technology you just learned about or a new cool event set up you read about on an industry blog. It’s easy to get excited about the latest and greatest cool thing, however before trying to incorporate it into your event, first, think about if it makes sense for your audience. It’s not a great idea to invest in a social media wall and your audience’s social media interaction is mostly checking out friends’ vacation photos on Facebook. It’s always good to try and find ways to mix things up, but it’s best to do so thoughtfully and strategically.
Poorly informed planning group
Some people love to plan parties, and there is a tendency for some to focus more on party planning aesthetics like floral arrangements and décor vs. business strategy and content. While event aesthetics are important, the business purpose for the event should be priority and it is important to make sure that every member of the planning group is aware of this. If the planning group isn’t properly informed of the corporate event planning process, including the goals and purpose of the event, it can be big problem. It’s a good idea to review goals, event purpose and priorities at the beginning of the process to ensure everyone is on the same page.
It’s easy to think the sky is the limit when you have a large budget. However, everything costs money and particularly when planning a corporate event, you need to think of all of the different expenses involved. Some of the easily missed ones are gratuities, travel expenses, and miscellaneous for surprise expenses (like unavoidable rush fees). Make sure your event budget is reasonable for the type of event you are planning and that your budget is aligned with the vision for the event. Costs can rack up quickly and if your budget doesn’t support the type of event you’d like to have, it’s much better to realize this early in the planning process than to realize this on the day of the event.
Plan it and they will come. Just because you have an event at a really cool place with really yummy food, doesn’t mean that people will magically attend. You have to invite people, and you have to invite the right people, you have to market the event, communicating why your target audience should attend. The event should be at a convenient time and consider the needs and preferences of your target audience. Serious time, effort and work are required to even begin to realize return on your investment.
Short planning timeline
A short planning timeline is sometimes unavoidable. In these cases, you do the best you can with the time that you have. In other cases, there might be a request to plan a multi-day conference in few weeks, and you will need to ask for a more reasonable time frame. Underestimating the time needed to pull together an event is an easy to trap to fall into. It’s much better to have a super long planning timeline that supports adequate time to develop a quality program.
A topic that is not attractive
We can get super excited about a topic and think others will be as excited as we are. When choosing a topic for your program, do some initial research (formally and informally) to ensure the topic is timely and of interest to your target audience. Considering the time, effort, and resources devoted to corporate events, it’s important to make sure program topics will attract the right attendees to fill seats and achieve your event goals.
Second-guessing your vendors
It’s important to trust your vendors. If you’ve done your homework and have chosen quality vendors, you can have faith that your vendors’ years of experience are worth something. They’ve seen almost every kind of problem scenario and can help avoid common pitfalls. If you second- guess their recommendations, you may be putting the quality of your event at risk. There will be times when you have to balance client /stakeholder preferences with practicality and potential risk.
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