Mistakes happen — even to the most organised event planners. It’s hard to be perfect when you’re juggling endless details and deadlines, corresponding with dozens of caterers, and trying to woo sponsors, all at the same time!
After all, you’re only human.
Take a look at some of these common event planner mistakes to see if you can relate. If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid these mistakes so far, follow the bonus strategies to keep that error-free streak going.
1. You included the wrong person on your email
Your venue is really being a pain in the you-know-what, and in a moment of weakness, you decided to air your grievances with your partner — or so you thought. Instead, you actually sent the email to your venue contact.
You’ve probably been guilty of texting or emailing an unfortunate message to the wrong person at one point or another. Don’t stress – it happens to the best of us. Just keep your fingers crossed you never accidentally send a rant to your head sponsor!
How to fix it: You’ll have to do a “mea culpa” here and apologise for sending the email. Use the opportunity to ask for feedback about how to work better together moving forward. For the future, remember: If you feel the urge to vent, don’t do it in writing.
2. You went over budget
Maybe you didn’t think about permit costs, or neglected to read the fine print on a contract and ended up paying extra for items not included. Or, bad weather occurred, and you had to fork out for tents and other coverings at the last minute.
Whatever the reason, you underestimated how much your event would cost — and now you’re left with nothing to spend on vital elements like food and AV. You’re left trying to return table settings and scrambling to find more sponsors.
How to fix it: What’s done is done once you’ve overspent. But analysing your expenses can be an invaluable lesson as you move forward. Use this event budget template, and set aside 10-15% of your budget for wiggle room. You can always spend it on a last-minute marketing push if you don’t need the funds for other line items.
3. You didn’t order enough food and drinks
Taco festivals that run out of tacos. Multi-day conferences that run out of coffee. Music festivals that run out of water. You under-estimated the amount of inventory you’d need — and you’re paying the price. Especially when your hangry attendees head to social media to complain.
How to fix it: In the moment, you’ll have to think on your feet. First things first: you must apologise to your attendees. Then call your caterer or local eateries to send emergency rations. Or send someone to the closest grocery store. Next time, overestimate what you’ll need — and have a backup plan.
Suggested Reading: How to Avoid Social Media Backlash
4. You wore the wrong shoes
You love the new shoes you just bought and they seemed comfortable enough, but an hour into your event, you were in physical pain. Your arches ached, and blisters were forming. Why didn’t you go with your old reliable, broken-in flats?
How to fix it: One lesson everyone has to learn the hard way: Don’t wear brand new shoes to an event. Choose something with lots of support, and wear them out a few times to break them in. Always carry bandages in your event bag just in case, and wear the appropriate socks underneath. And if you know it’s going to be a super long day, it won’t hurt to stick a pair of trainers in your bag so you can switch toward the end of the day.
Preparation is half the battle
Although you can’t prevent all event planning mistakes, you can use this event preparedness playbook to help make things go as close to perfect as possible.