We have been providing catering equipment and furniture hire to London’s event planning elite and we’ve seen and heard it all, because the beauty and the drawback of event planning is that anything can happen and anything can go wrong.
It certainly makes for an interesting experience but it can also create a lot of pressure, since there are so many variables, you never know what is going to happen and what is going to go wrong. All you can do is prepare as well as possible; and avoiding these classic event planning mistakes is a brilliant start.
1. Not giving yourself enough time to prepare
In our experience, it doesn’t matter when an event planner starts work, they’ll still wind up in a race against time by deadline day. Still, nothing looks worse than when guests are arriving and event workers are running frantically to get things done.
Your goal should be to complete everything no less than fifteen minutes before doors open.
2. Not finalising a floor plan
Visitors might take the layout of your event for granted but that doesn’t mean you should. Floor plans don’t happen by accident and they’re tougher to get right the bigger your event gets.
You should finalise your floor plan a week in advance and share it with all necessary members of staff and third parties. Make loading, unloading and set up as simple as possible and in the process you’ll limit the number of things that can go wrong on the day.
3. Not scheduling a walkthrough
Some event planners like to work with paper. Others are trigger happy with emails and spreadsheets. Either way, it’s important to not rely solely on organisation. A walkthrough of the event, with all of the necessary management and day staff is a must, because it’s the only way to be sure that there hasn’t been a glaring omission amongst the organisation.
During the walkthrough, discuss every moment of the event beat by beat as if it were playing out in front of you. You’ll be surprised what issues and questions this could raise; and it is a lot better clearing them up ahead of time than on the night.
4. Forgetting to confirm all third parties
If you’re enlisting the help of vendors, you should look to get written or verbal confirmation from them no less than 48 hours before the big day. Depending on what they do, it might be the case that the company is working with a number of events on the same day. If this is the case, it’s a great idea to spell out all of your expectations in this confirmation email and ensure that they are happy with your expectations.
5. Ignoring other events
Ok, you have your eyes on the prize and of course your focus should be on your own event, but it’s also important to be aware of other events in the area. After all, some venues might stage a number of events at the same time. Before you sign on the dotted line for an event space, you should consider the possibility of a noisy neighbour.
In addition to the potential disturbance, there is the fact that another event will be sharing facilities and public resources. This isn’t automatically a problem, of course, but it does create certain issues. If you’re going ahead, you’ll need to ensure you know the points of authority for the other event. That way, you know where to go as quickly as possible in the event of a problem.
6. Not preparing a contingency plan
Ask yourself, what happens in bad weather? What happens in extreme weather? What happens in the event of a power out? What happens if there is a major cancellation? What happens if the venue is closed? If you’re lucky you’ll never need the answers to these questions (certainly not all at once) but they need to be planned for, because you simply never know.
If worst comes to worst, you can avoid serious heartache with a contingency plan, plotted 2 weeks in advance. This should include an organised way of informing all guests if the event is cancelled altogether.
7. Not getting enough help on the day
Part of an event planners remit is balancing the books and paying dozens of staff to stand around, twiddle their thumbs or update their social media status is not a good use of your budget; but what is the cost of inviting too few workers to help out?
You simply cannot do everything on your own and you shouldn’t be afraid to spend some of your budget on hiring quality staff, including management personnel to coordinate with employees, third parties and visitors.
8. Not making a supply list
Even if you order all of the necessary supplies well in advance, you don’t know what might happen in the build up to the big day. A delivery could be missed or delayed and with so many plates to spin, you could miss it entirely until it’s too late. With a packing list you can stay on top of everything at a glance.
Essentially, you take a register of everything you need and check then re-check on the morning of the event. You’re not just inventorying catering equipment either. You need to ensure you have your laptop, tablet, phone charger and everything else you might need.
9. Not providing a marked entrance
So, everything is sorted. Everything is organised and everybody fully understands their role. Everything has been ticked off the to-do list and all that’s left is to wait for your guests to arrive. But then you realised that you have forgotten to provide proper signage to the entrance of the event.