Planning the Perfect Event: Top problems and their solutions
By Natalee Walker @nataleewalker
As a guest at an event, you are presented the final product of what was most likely a culmination of weeks’ worth of planning, anticipation, negotiations, preparation and promotion. As an event planner, it is your responsibility to put on an event that has been thoroughly thought-out to allow each attendee to sit back, blissfully unaware of the work behind-the-scenes. Below is a list of common problems I have encountered during my experience as an event planner, and strategies I have found help in overcoming these hurdles.
Problem: Where do we go? Choosing the Right Venue.
Solution: It is important to keep in mind that every event is vastly different, and the easiest way to ensure your guests will have the best experience possible is to always remember your audience. Some events call for intimate settings, others need plenty of space for attendees to mix and mingle. Before you even begin receiving RSVPs, contemplate the number of guests you think would provide the most effective event. A packed house is great in many cases, but ask yourself if the event you’re planning will suffer from a lack of exclusivity. Also, call to book the venue far, far ahead of your anticipated event date. The best venues book quickly and often months in advance.
Problem: Too Many Chiefs—Drafting a Dream Team
Solution: Working in a group toward a common goal can be beneficial for everyone involved, guests and planners alike. However, there several complications that can come from an unorganized, in cohesive group. Communication is key: before any details are ironed out, establish each group members’ specific responsibilities. If each member is aware of what they should be solely focused on, there will be fewer overlaps and less confusion down the road. Make sure the group leader is clearly established, and that each member feels comfortable and happy in their role on the team. Event planning should be fun, and the final product will be much more rewarding if everyone feels satisfied that their contributions can be seen.
Problem: The Inevitable—Unexpected Issues
Solution: Have a Plan B. And a Plan C. It is often the minor details that cause the major issues. “Little things” can have a huge impact on the overall presentation and success of an event, right down to the colored napkins and matching tablecloths. These details may seem irrelevant throughout much of the planning process, but it is important to keep tabs on each little detail, because on the day of the event you will surely be encountering at least one major hiccup. If there is no stress over minor details, when something else on event day goes wrong (which it will) the attention of the group can be focused on overcoming the major problem.
Problem: Full House—Getting Guests to Show Up
Solution: In promoting the event, social media will become your best friend. Twitter and Facebook are free, easy and instant. Utilize Hoot Suite to schedule tweets, encourage followers to get in on the conversation by assigning your event a hash tag and mention specific people who may be interested in attending your event. Facebook’s “Event” application was made for this very reason. Creating an event on Facebook can give you an instant idea of how many guests you should be expecting, and allows the word to spread quickly and efficiently. Think beyond the basics as well: utilize blog posts, Instagram photos and email blasts. There are hundreds of online invitation makers that do the work for you, and can help you to design and easily distribute invitations to your event electronically.
Problem: Budgeting and Funding
Solution: Planning an event on a tight budget presents a challenge, but there are several ways to overcome budgeting issues. Firstly, do set a realistic budget before any plans are made. It is important to reach out to the one planning the finances beforehand to establish what you and your team are working with. Always aim to spend below budget if possible. Reach out to local businesses, but don’t limit yourself to thinking of big names. Small businesses often are looking to get their name out there, and may be willing to donate products in order to generate buzz. Most event planners are familiar with public relations, so utilize your PR skills and let these businesses know the extent of publicity their products will be receiving, including social media mentions and a plug in the brochure. Be flexible and think out of the box. If you live in a big city, divide and conquer. Split up your area by neighborhoods or certain geographical boundaries, and have each team member make phone calls or stop by. You may be surprised at just how much you can get donated to your event at no cost to you.