SHOCKING! 18 event disasters & how to stop them destroying your event!
2.Running out of food
3.Speaker stuck in traffic or drops out completely
4.Speaker content is poor
5.Taxis / transfers don’t turn up
7.Food standard is poor
8.Tea and coffee snacks are missing
9.Lunch is over-crowded
10.Scheduling is off
11.Not enough water
12.Not enough parking
14.Forget to provide dietary options for food
15.Bathrooms not enough
17.Road blockage right before the venue
18.AV company don’t show up
When organising any event you must first undertake a risk assessment, this will enable you to plan ahead and have a suitable solution for any eventuality. This list is just a guidance and is by no means exhaustive, if you need help producing a risk assessment for your event, we can help! ;-)
Weather –if you are organising an outdoor event from a drinks reception after work in a terrace bar or a company summer party for 4000, you must always have a wet weather plan and a too sunny plan!
For a venue that you have hired the terrace for, request that they hold a room inside that has the same capacity as the terrace even if there is a higher associated cost. It will be worth it! For an event held on a field it is imperative that you have a rainy day scenario such a large indoor space like a barn or similar, and if this isn’t possible, then have several large marquees that will hold the capacity expected to attend (although likelihood is that capacity will reduce when rain is on the cards) equally direct sun in the middle of summer can be damaging to an event and providing shade from adequate marquees is also a must.
Running out of food –I’ve found in events with a younger demographic that it is imperative to order more food than you would normally as they eat like ravenous teenagers. A buffet tends to bring out the greed in all of us, so it certainly isn’t a bad idea to up the amount you order. Also, if your event is longer than one day it is a good idea to over order on the first day, and check to see how much is left over, then adjust the next day’s order. It may be too late with the venue to save money, (if you need to reduce the order) but it is a good practice to request less food for the next day to save food, if not money.
Speaker stuck in traffic – hopefully the speaker has scheduled their arrival at the venue ahead of their slot (make sure you have contracted them to do this at least an hour prior)
But if the worst comes and they are going to use up that 1 hr buffer and be late, at least you have 60 minutes to fill their slot. Either, schedule a break to fill in until the speaker arrives, thus moving it from, say, after the speaker slot to before. Or, fill the slot with another speaker and switch them round.
Alternatively, you could have an energiser session prepared as a filler, in case you need to use it. Energiser sessions are great for waking up the delegates and increasing concentration. It’s always a great idea to have one prepared and up your sleeve, that you can put to good use if you see your audience’s concentration lagging. You’ll need an MC on the crew to be able to lead the session, and a couple of power point slides – and that’s it!!
If a speaker drops out completely then the energiser session can also be used coupled with an early break and then move the following speakers forward so that the day can end early. If the speaker is the same speaker for the duration of the event then you’ll need to get on the phone and find a new one ASAP!!
Speaker content is poor –When picking a speaker, be clear about what you expect them to talk about, and to cover. Explain how you are expecting them to deliver their content and ask them how they intend to engage the delegates. Engaging, immersive content is what makes a conference. If your homework has not gone to plan prior to engaging a speaker, then there is little to nothing you can do to fix this situation. Talk to the speaker in the break and ask what they are going to talk about next, how they will deliver it, and try to encourage more interaction with the audience. Ask your AV team to provide mics for the delegates so they can ask questions of the speaker thereby creating more relevant content & changing the course of the talk.
Taxis / transfers don’t turn up, Transfers to the venue from the hotel are late- this is quite a common issue to encounter when running an event. To prevent this, order your transfers and give yourself a buffer to allow for traffic, late delegates to the bus etc.
If your delegate taxis that you have booked don’t turn up the only thing to do is to call a few local taxi companies and ask them to do the collection.
Preventative – do a spreadsheet of all the transfers, times and collection/drop off locations along with delegate names, contact numbers for the delegates and request driver’s details – name and contact number for on the day. Once this is all sorted then half your battle is done. Download our cheat sheet here….
Over crowded – this is down to poor planning – in the run up to the event keep an eye on the delegate register and ensure you stop allowing sign ups when you’ve reached capacity of the main room. However, if, on the day you’ve got more people than expected you will have to turn them away once capacity is reached. If it’s an exhibition then you can move to “one in, one out” rules and keep everyone in the queue waiting to enter hydrated, fed and entertained – LCD screen in the entrance hall playing what is going on in the main room and a table of water jugs and biscuits ought to suffice. If it’s an event with a speaker, then see if the venue can open another partition (assuming you have a partitioned space) if not, then you will have to turn people away due to health and safety.
Food standard is poor – Speak to the venue or caterer and explain what your expectations are if they are not being met, request that they improve on their offerings for the next serving and if they don’t you can leave a review. If the event is long in duration and the food quality is very poor, considering contacting a new caterer to provide last minute food for the rest of the event.
Snacks missing at tea and coffee breaks – Request that the caterer add snacks in or a quick trip to the supermarket with the company card will also solve this problem!
Lunch is over crowded - the queues are long and there are people who still have not eaten when the break is over; You will have to delay the start of the second half of the event until all delegates have had their lunch, requesting the caterer to leave the food out or the venue to extend the lunch break & the speaker to go on a bit later. To fix the issue for proceeding days it is a good idea to stagger lunch breaks requesting that half the room go first & the other half delay by just 10 minutes, which will help reduce the queue time; you could direct the group going second to the coffee break area to grab a drink first. Increase the lunch break time slot and ask a speaker to cut their time down to avoid running over at the end of the day.
Scheduling is off – when planning always give yourself a buffer adjacent to the break so if you need it you can get back on track. If you under-run then delegates can enjoy a longer breaktime or bring everything forward slightly to end the day slightly earlier. Always best to leave your delegates wanting more, than to feel like they’ve had information overload.
Make sure you keep on top of the schedule and if a speaker is over-running signal to them that it is time to wrap it up, you need to keep a tight control of the schedule.
Not enough water – warm environments increase water intake; request that the caterer/venue provide additional water bottles, or if it’s yourself who provided the water you’ll need to send someone to the supermarket to buy bottles in bulk. At International Events we are a big fan of jugged water – it’s better for the environment, your budget and you avoid this issue altogether!
Not enough parking – as an event planner you have a responsibility for your delegates from the moment they arrive in their mode of transport to the moment they leave in their mode of transport, so parking, is your issue! If they don’t have anywhere to park you’ll need to have postcodes of local ‘over-flow’ carparks that you can direct delegates to. If the event is on a country venue, then a quick check with the venue should see if they can allocate additional parking for your delegates – fields are great if they’re flat and mown!
A pre-questionnaire that delegates have to complete to register should include how they are intending to arrive and you SHOULD already know how many are coming in cars.
Medical emergency – You must have someone on your team who is trained with first aid. At International Events all our event team have first aid training. If the event is a large one, you will have to provide paramedics and clear directions to the public as to where they are located. Not to mention risk assessments covering all potential issues and a clear radio code issued to all those with radios so you can communicate when things have gone wrong without alerting the audience and causing unnecessary panic. We once held a conference where a delegate felt unwell, it was not life threatening, we spoke to the paramedics and they didn’t need to attend so we drove the delegate who was from Singapore over to the local doctors and covered the bill via the company. We provided her with a bedroom to stay in for the remaining duration of the conference, and luckily she improved by the time she was scheduled to fly back to Singapore - so it does happen!
Forget to provide dietary options for food – the caterers should prompt you for the dietary requirements and you should include this in your questionnaire for the delegate registration. However, if this has been overlooked, on the day you will need to provide vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options in order to cover all bases and make sure that they are all clearly labelled including the allergens of all the food on the buffet so it is clear what contains what. I always request a gluten free & vegan option to be held in the kitchen in case someone comes at the end of the lunch break who needs one, (regardless of whether I have dietary options upfront) there is usually at least one who forgot to mention it on their form!
Bathrooms not enough this one is not easily remedied. If you know ahead of the event then order some porta loos (the nice ones, not the kind you get at Glastonbury – your delegates will thank you) otherwise increase length of the breaks to allow for the queues from the toilets. You’ll find that delegates will start to go to the bathroom during the presentations in order to avoid queues and the issue should partially resolve itself. Do ask the venue staff to ensure that the toilets are well stocked with toilet paper and soap, and that they check the bathrooms after each break and if they don’t, then you must.
Rooming issues – not enough bedrooms, no-shows and being charged, error in booking bedrooms leading to large bill of unused rooms. – this issue should be prevented with proper planning at delegate registration stage, however, if not, then it will need to be sorted by signing up more bedrooms at a local hotel or paying the cost of too many unnecessary bedrooms. If you have delegate contact numbers you can call each delegate that is a no-show to find out if you can release their room the following night and save some money or re-assign it.
Road blockage right before the venue – this one is harder to plan for, but a quick drive past the venue in the days leading up to the event will. Enable you to have a heads up. Contact the company doing road works and ask when they will have completed it. If it goes over your event then you will need to find a detour and email the map and instructions over to every delegate before the event, if you don’t have their emails then you can put up direction signs for the event.
AV company doesn’t show up – You should have the AV company over to set up the night prior, but if it’s a small event they won’t need to come until the morning to set up, if they don’t arrive, call them, and find out why they haven’t arrived! If they got the date wrong and can’t come, then ask the venue if they have a list of AV companies you can call or any AV equipment that they can set up for you to use.
Obviously there are worse scenarios such as fire, flood, risk to life, but in these situations it’s important to follow the venue’s guidance and safety procedures.
We hope this hasn't put you off running your event, but if you need any help, just give the team a shout, we would love to help you through the process, and we can manage your event on the day too, if you need, so you don't have to worry about all the things that could go wrong; you can just relax safe in the knowledge that your event is in safe hands.
- We are happy to just give you some advice over the phone
- Provide a risk assessment for your event
- Run the event on the day at the venue
- Help organise a small part of it
- Find and manage the venue side of the event
- Manage delegate registration
- Organise just the transfers
- Manage the entire event from start to finish
Give our team a call - we love to have a chat!
Thursday 1st January 1970