The key to successful event management is planning ahead. But no matter how much experience you have or how prepared you think you are, there’s always the possibility that something will go wrong on the day. Here’s how to troubleshoot last-minute issues so that attendees will remember your event for all the right reasons.
Last-minute venue disaster
You spent weeks scouting out the perfect venue, but the day before your event you get a call to say there’s been a fire. There’s no possibility of holding the event at the same venue, so you’re going to have to find a replacement. Here’s where over-planning comes in handy. Have a few alternative venues in mind so if something disastrous occurs you can ring around some suitable next-best options. Make sure you have all your attendees registered so you can send a mass email informing them of the venue change as efficiently as possible and post updates on all your social media channels.
No one shows up for the event
No matter how many amazing speakers or performers you book, not everyone will show up – especially for a free event. Maybe it’s raining, maybe the traffic is bad, maybe they have an essay to write by Monday – whatever the excuse, too many no-shows can be disastrous for event planners. Minimise the risk by asking attendees to confirm their attendance a few days prior to the event and provide them with a way of transferring their ticket to someone else if they can no longer make it. Monitor real-time ticket sales on Eventbrite (or whichever platform you are using) and if needed, launch a last-minute promotion with plenty of social media marketing. Consider giving media tickets to local bloggers, radio stations, and social media influencers, and set up a standby list so you can release additional last-minute tickets if attendance is low.
Too many people show up for the event
Preferable to an empty venue but still problematic, having a venue bursting at the seams creates a negative atmosphere that can generate poor reviews about wait times and lack of seating. If your ticket sales or event registrations are skyrocketing early on, you may wish to consider upsizing your venue. Alternatively, having a venue with additional rooms or bars for overflow that can be used as needed helps to distribute crowds without the risk of a large empty auditorium. Limit ticket numbers and make sure there is someone on the door to monitor admittance and control queues.
Technology is great when it works, but there’s nothing more frustrating than straining to hear a speaker over a failing microphone or waiting around while a group of people frantically try to get an audio visual presentation up and running. Make sure you test everything from laptops to lighting before the event, and keep plenty of spare chargers and extension cords handy. In the event of a worst-case scenario, having a low-tech alternative (whiteboard and marker pens or printed copies of a presentation) may save the day. If speakers are planning on streaming their presentations, ask them to bring back-up hard copies on a USB stick just in case.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in event management, an MA in Creative Events Management from Falmouth University’s Flexible Learning programmes can help you develop the skills you need to accelerate your career.