The goal of every event manager, whether planning a small incentive gathering or large-scale conference, is to make sure things run smoothly. But with so many moving pieces, services, and people involved, mistakes can sometimes happen.
You can't avoid every mishap, but there are some errors that most event managers experience at some point in their career. Use these five tips to prepare for and avoid these common mistakes.
1. The failure to properly allocate resources and skills
The success of your event lives or dies by this common mistake. If you don't have the right amount of wait staff or an employee at check-in that's not comfortable with talking with people, you've got big problems.
You can prevent any resources problem with one simple word: communication. As an event manager, you need to have the most up-to-date information on the number of attendees, schedules, menus, venue setup, and more. Establish a direct line of communication with your client from the start. Decide how you'll keep in touch -- email might work best for some, but other clients may prefer phone calls or in-person meetings -- and develop a timeline for checking in.
The skills issue can be solved with communication and career development. Have regular meetings with your employees to learn about their individual skillsets, strengths, weaknesses, and what additional training they might need. Know who your superstars are so you know who you can depend on in a crisis. Find out what additional skills your employees have that could be helpful. If you have someone on your team who is a musician in their free time, you can call on them to help if there's a problem with sound equipment.
2. Neglecting to keep track of changes to the event that occur
If you're not aware of changes for an event, it could cause a domino effect that throws everything off track. Don't wait for the client or event decisionmakers to contact you. Get ahead of changes by scheduling regular meetings and phone calls, and establishing daily communication channels as you get closer to the event date so you can have the most current information to work with.
3. Lack of experienced managers
Events can be stressful, especially for managers who don't have experience and aren't prepared to handle the pressure. Get your managers up to speed by having a good onboarding plan in place and lots of training materials. Create documents or videos that explain and list procedures. Or, if your business has the resources, enroll your new managers in local event training programs. Establish an open communication policy that makes managers feel comfortable coming to you with questions as they learn the ropes.
4. Failing to prepare for anything to go wrong
Something will go wrong. It might be something small or it could be something that causes a huge problem with your event. What matters is how you handle these landmines. Make sure to have a debrief with your team to communicate about what led to the mistake, and what you could do to prevent it next time. Keep a log of these events and create contingency plans for each scenario, so if it does happen again, you know exactly what to do.
5. Not following standardized and efficient event management processes
The best way to be prepared for your events is to streamline the event management process so you're not starting completely from scratch each time. Create procedures, checklists, and timelines that are based on industry standards, but tweak them to fit the needs of your team and the clients you work with. This also helps prevent miscommunication and keeps everyone on the same page.
The best tool for a successful event
Did you notice a common thread among the tips? It's communication. Checking in with your staff and clients on a regular basis is key for preventing these common mistakes. If you're up-to-date on changes and current needs, you'll be one step ahead of any potential blunders and more likely to end up with a successful event.
Jonathan Morse is the CEO and founder of Tripleseat, a web application for restaurants, hotels and unique venues, chosen by more than 35,000 Event Managers and Restaurant Owners. Tripleseat helps these businesses increase their event bookings and streamlines the planning process. Jonathan has been involved in the restaurant and hotel business for 30+ years with roles ranging from a busboy at Abadessa's in Hingham, MA, to line cook at Atlantic Café in Nantucket, to Floor Manager at Backbay Restaurant Group, to New England Regional Sales Manager for Starwood Hotels. Before starting Tripleseat, Jonathan was a VP of Sales for a web startup that delivered Business Intelligence reporting to the restaurant industry.