“What can go wrong will go wrong.” As an event planner, Murphy’s Law is no joke, so being prepared
for the unexpected is critical. This list will help thwart off some of the most commonly neglected and often biggest issues that pop during an event.
- “Um, I can’t eat anything on the menu here…”
Allergies and food preferences…be ready for ALL of them. From gluten-free to Lent, be sure to know your audience and the religious holidays so you don’t get caught with an unhappy donor or high-roller.
When your attendees and volunteers grab their tickets online, use this as a chance to find out their food preferences. Both your attendees and your chef will thank you.
- “Does anyone have a zip tie or Allen Head wrench?”
We never show up to an event without our handy-dandy event kit. This is the giant rolling lifesaver that has everything from first-aid supplies to a portable printer. You just never know what falling signage, last-minute talking point changes, or tripping hazards lie ahead, so it’s best to be prepared for anything.
Here are some ideas for what you can include in yours: Scissors, pens/markers, tape (of all sorts), paper, Tide-to-go pen, ibuprofen, portable speaker with mic, Velcro strips, tacks, zip ties, batteries, hand sanitizer, snacks, and a small tool kit (with wrench, hammer, nails, measuring tape, etc.).
Bonus tip: every time you have an event, make note of what other useful items you could have had in there, and make sure to add it before the next big thing.
- “Hey, do you guys have Wi-Fi here?”
While this seems obvious to some, knowing and sharing the Wi-Fi password is essential to attendees, especially the social media-savvy ones who will spend their time at your event face-deep in tweets.
Having Wi-Fi available and displaying the details proudly (along with a few strategically placed hashtags and web links) will help increase your digital presence and give you a quick, speedy resource to locate the nearest coffee shop when your dessert vendor doesn’t show.
- “I know I said I didn’t need an outlet but now I do…”
Seeking out and documenting the location of outlets is a crucial and often forgotten step in event planning. It’s a good idea to include outlet locations on your master floor plan just in case a vendor decides to bring an electric warming oven instead of sternos as outlined in your agreement. This way you won’t need to send support staff running to locate one five minutes before the food is supposed to be served.
Bonus tip: Consider having a few charging stations for guests that are highlighted with a sign. Nothing is more terrifying to some guests than being cut off from sharing this special and envious moment with their digital universe.
- “Does anyone know where the key note speaker went?”
One thing with event planning that hasn’t changed is the need for walkie-talkies. Often this critical device is considered “outdated” because the team thinks a quick text can get the same message across. No matter what someone tells you, there is absolutely no faster way to communicate an issue to staff and vendors than using walkie-talkies. Just be sure to get headsets so you’re not sharing the crazy behind-the-scenes chatter for all attendees to hear.
Bonus tip: Make a list of subject matter experts on your support team who could be the point people for various issues like food, vendors, volunteers, logistics, etc. Then make sure all those people have walkie-talkies and a copy of that list, so questions can be asked and answered quickly, and to the right person without inducing unnecessary panic.