Top event planning mistakes (and how to avoid them)


It’s often said that if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong, and that’s something you need to bear in mind when it comes to planning your events. There’s very little room for error and if you want your event to run smoothly, it’s important to make sure you do everything in your power to prevent problems that are easily created but difficult to fix. Here are some of the most commonly made mistakes in event management, as well as some tips on avoiding them.


1. Running out of of time to set up


It’s inevitable that there’ll be a last-minute rush to make sure everything is perfect before your delegates arrive. But running days behind schedule and not leaving time for basics such as setting up and testing equipment is entirely different. You can’t guarantee anything will work unless you’ve already tried it, so inadequate setup time only increases your risk of a disaster on the day.


Solution: Establish a strict timeline for planning the event at the earliest possible stage. Then stick to it - make notes in your diary, send out calendar invites and reminder emails, and make sure everyone involved in the planning is fully aware that time is of the essence.


2. Not confirming suppliers


Caterers, venue managers and equipment hire companies are always busy and the onus will be on you to make sure you follow up on every discussion you have with them. In the rush to get an event together, it’s easy to forget that a broad discussion regarding quotes and offers does not constitute a formal agreement. If one of your suppliers fails to show, the result will be embarrassment and a much less valuable experience for delegates.


Solution: Set reminders to follow up on calls and put everything in writing as soon as it has been discussed. Make sure you have written confirmation of anything you intend to purchase, delivery dates and payment methods.


3. No contingency plan


The more complex the event, the more ways in which things can go wrong. Last-minute disruption can play havoc with event schedules, but the damage can be limited if event planners make sure they always have an alternative option. On the other hand, if there is no contingency plan, the consequences can be severe.


Solution: Make a list of everything that could possibly go wrong and put together a backup plan for the ones you can work around. If the venue is struck by lightning on the day, you won’t have many other options - but if one of your speakers can’t make it, your event can still go ahead provided you have already asked another knowledgeable delegate to prepare a few thoughts.


4. Losing track of attendees


Another easy mistake to make, especially if you’re still receiving event bookings on paper or even via email. It’s easy to forget about that one person who registers weeks in advance amid a flurry of later reservations: cue the embarrassing moment when there aren’t enough chairs in the room for every participant.


Solution: Make sure you get accurate, complete data from every attendee at the moment when they book their place at your event. An online delegate registration system can help with this. Not only can you customise the registration form to ensure you get all the information you need, but if your system integrates into other tools such as table planning and contact management software, you can also have that data transferred automatically so that nothing is lost.


5. Not saying thank you


If you forget about the event once the delegates have left, you don’t even begin to get the maximum potential out of the effort you put in. Attendees will drift away without forming any meaningful relationships with you or your organisation, while those who have contributed to the operation will full devalued and unappreciated.


Solution: After the event, it’s important to reach out to both attendees and those who helped you organise everything to maintain those strong relationships. The latter will help keep your network intact so future events run smoothly. The former will help to keep attendees engaged and foster the dialogues that contribute to a long-term marketing strategy.

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