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5 common event planning mistakes and how not to make them

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Planning an event, whether it’s a business conference, corporate hospitality event or a milestone birthday bash, is not a walk in the park. From choosing the venue all the way to sending out feedback forms, every aspect has to be meticulously organised. Of course, there are endless opportunities for things to go wrong, so how can you make sure you don’t drop a clanger?

At Function Fixers, we know a thing or three about event planning. We’ve built a successful business around helping our clients to source the perfect venue for their event, and to make sure it all goes smoothly on the day (or night). For help and advice with your next event, please call us on 020 7186 8686.

Here are some of the most common planning mistakes we’ve come across, and what you can do to make sure they don’t happen to you.

1 – Poor communication

One of the most common mistakes made, particularly by less experienced event planners, is ineffective communication. Organisational skills are key, of course, but if you miscommunicate or don’t communicate every little detail of what needs to happen, it can spell disaster.

Make sure that you have a comprehensive checklist containing every step and detail, pay attention to it religiously and proceed methodically. Part of being a good event planner is to be able to communicate proactively with your team internally, and your external suppliers, to ensure everyone knows what they’re expected to be doing, including where and when.

2 – No contingency planning

Murphy’s Law famously states that if something can go wrong, it will. While this doesn’t mean that your event is doomed to failure, it does mean that you should always be prepared for something, however small, to not go according to plan.

What if you’ve booked an outdoor event and it rains? What if a keynote speaker is running late or the live band is a no show? What if your computer fails or the venue has a power cut? Do you have Plan B? A good event planner thinks ahead, assesses the risks of what could go wrong and always puts contingencies in place.

3 – Underestimating logistics

Putting on an event can be a logistical nightmare unless you are on top of every movement. From furniture, equipment and catering to speakers, delegates and guests, you need to ensure that everything and everyone is in the right place at the right time, so that the event can proceed as planned.

Are you sure there’s plenty of parking for attendees, taxis for guest speakers have been arranged, there’s no delay with food/drinks supplies, and the programmes are printed in time? The run-up to an event can be a hectic time. Make sure you double check and confirm all arrangements, and put contingency planning in place just to be on the safe side.

4 – Not enough staff on the day

On the day of the event, you’re likely to be dealing with a large number of attendees. Whether you’re celebrating a wedding or hosting a networking conference, it’s important to have enough staff to adequately attend to everyone’s needs.

From wardrobe attendants to waiters, facilities managers to event organisers and clerical staff, there should be a satisfactory ratio of staff to attendees so that nobody has to wait around. Go through your planning with a fine toothcomb and add extra people where necessary, plus reserves for contingencies.

5 – Lack of clear signage

Finally, it should go without saying that the venue should be clearly signposted to avoid confusion and frustration on the day of the event. This applies to getting there – supply maps, train/bus timetables, directions and parking info – as well as your guests being able to find their way around the venue itself.

For multi-room networking events, conferences and training days, it can be intensely frustrating for delegates to get lost between sessions, or risk missing presentations on account of not being able to find the room. A printed map and adequate physical signage throughout the building is key.


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