Organising events is hugely rewarding, but can also be pretty stressful.

Like any profession, it comes with its niggles and bugbears – those things that make an event planner’s life just that bit more difficult.

If you’re feeling a little fed up, don’t worry; you’re not alone in your frustrations. Here are the annoying things nine event planners wish they could put in Room 101…

Related: 5 Things that frequently go wrong at events (and how to stop them)

  1. Catherine Godsland, Managing Director, Out There Events

“As an agency, one of the biggest frustrations we face happens whilst pitching for events. We are regularly in situations where we are about to pitch for a new piece of business but must consider how much creativity and time we should to put into it, without giving away our crown jewels.

“I attended a networking event where a competitor admitted that they do not get involved in pitches, as they don’t want to give away all their ideas unless guaranteed the business. We all put so much time and effort into our business development, ensuring they’re jam-packed with concepts and content (visuals and dummy assets).

“Protecting your creative ideas so that a client doesn’t just use the ideas themselves, or indeed, suggest them to another agency is always a risk. The ultimate outcome is that we want our vision to become a reality by winning the business. We strongly believe that ‘ideas’ are only part of the picture, it’s the delivery of these ideas that is truly the key.” 

  1. Charlie Howes, Founder, Nude Life and Marketing Executive, Chillisauce

“Waiting on stakeholders to make a decision and the knock-on effect that has on finding a venue is a frustration. The environment has a pretty big effect on humans’ moods and the comfort of your attendees. The venue choice will be one of the biggest and foremost factors in a successful event.

“Waiting on stakeholders to make a decision and the knock-on effect that has on finding a venue is a frustration. The environment has a pretty big effect on humans’ moods and the comfort of your attendees. The venue choice will be one of the biggest and foremost factors in a successful event.

“If a stakeholder is holding up the confirmation of the event you are less likely to get your first choice venue, especially during busy periods. This could affect the standard of your event.

“Do you confirm the venue first or the event? Sometimes I’ve had to take a risk and book the venue first – depending on how confident I am the event will pull through. Luckily this hasn’t backfired on me, yet!

“Additionally, I still think there is a gap in venue finding services. In an ideal world, you’d have a real-time online venue-booker. A similar concept to the booking system you get when booking seats for an event, like a football match or a concert. ”

  1. Corinne Tatham, Agency Sales Manager, Bluehat Group

“The main frustration I am sometimes faced with as an event organiser tends to be on the lack of information at the initial brief stage. My role at Bluehat Group has me working closely with our agency partners, who come to us for team building as part of a client’s event.

“I pride myself in offering objective-driven team building solutions, however without knowing the client’s desired outcome or purpose for the event, maybe a theme or their business content, it’s difficult to best tailor the solutions to their needs. The more information on the ‘why’, the more bespoke I can be with suggesting the perfect options, making our agency partners look even better in front of their clients.”

Related: 12 Stories of events gone wrong and lessons learned

  1. John Fisher, Managing Director of FMI Group

“Procrastination is the thief of time, so they say. But time is something all events have a dwindling supply of. From the moment the event is signed off to the opening sting, the clock is ticking. So my biggest frustration when running events is how much time is wasted in preparation.

“Most corporate executives think six weeks is a huge amount of time to get ready for the sales conference. But all event planners know this is very tight. From deciding on the theme to who is actually going to speak, delays eat away at the effectiveness of the budget and you end up paying rush rates and making do on creative ideas simply because the decision process for almost anything to do with events takes so much longer than you expect.

“So if there was just one suggestion I could make to improve events it would be for everyone to stick to the schedule and keep your promises about deciding on things.”

  1. Mike Walker, Managing Director, MGN Events

“One of the most frustrating experiences we have as event planners is a last minute major change of direction in messaging or branding which can push a whole project off course. It has often taken months to get to a certain point where everybody is happy with the final arrangements and then the goal posts are moved, often by a senior member of the client team who may not have been directly linked with the work that has taken place up until that point. It can be extremely difficult to re-message and sometimes re-brand an event at very short notice without wasting money and blowing the budget.

“Last minute additions to the guest list can also cause a major headache as they often mean a final rush to make up new guest lists and are especially annoying if badges have been printed prior to the event. If the numbers are large, it can also mean changes to the food and drinks order. Ideally we have a cut-off point where numbers are finalised and the list is closed but there will always be last minute additions and changes!

Some venues can be crafty about hidden charges for extras including rigging for lighting, onsite tech crew, security and sometimes even electricity. Most professional events planners can help clients avoid a nasty shock when the bill comes in and negotiate hard to get a better rate. It is something that we have to watch out for though as these charges are usually buried inside the T&C’s and are hard to spot.

“Finally, something that we wish we could change would be our aching feet and blisters at the end of a busy event but that is something that it is impossible to overcome!”

  1. Lizzy Gaskin, Director, Right Angle Events

“One of our biggest frustrations is timings. As event planners we are often juggling many suppliers (venues, transportation companies, entertainment, caterers etc.) and your client wants answers immediately.

“We often have clients contact us in the morning, with two hours until they have to present their ideas to their managers or CEOs and needing quotes immediately. Our account managers then have to jump on the phone, to our venues in particular, to get quotes (as day delegate rates and hires change based on date and time of year). When we get a quote from a venue or supplier with minutes till we have to send ours off to the client it can be a little frustrating. That, however, is our job; to take the stress and strain off the end client having to do all of the above.

“That all being said, it is the wonderful suppliers and fantastic venues that are then the ones who help to make the event a huge success. At the end of the day we are all one team working to make the event perfect for the client.”

Related: 10 More stories of events gone wrong

  1. Megan McIntosh, Senior Events Co-ordinator, BIG Partnership

 

“There can be a number of frustrations that occur in event planning, the first and perhaps most noticeable on the day being no-shows. It can be disappointing for everyone involved; but a key tactic is to always over-subscribe an event in preparation for the drop-outs which are inevitably going to happen.

“We also regularly find that a lot of people underestimate the amount of time, effort and stress that go into planning an event. A big frustration can be when we are engaged to organise an event in a very short space of time. However, part and parcel of the job is time management and organisational skills – turning things round efficiently is what we specialise in.

“Another frustration can be costs – they are often underestimated! But we are used to working with a variety of budgets, from lavish to shoestring. We are always looking to get the best deal for our clients and will negotiate with suppliers to ensure they receive value for money.

“Finally, it’s easy for clients to get carried away and add elements to events with big price tags, which aren’t always necessary. Naturally, we want to run successful events for our clients; so the key is to ensure they focus on what will get them the best return on investment and the desired results – all within their budget.”

  1. Griselda Togobo, Managing Director, Forward Ladies

“Forward Ladies is extremely proud of the well-attended events and conferences we host annually around the UK, ranging in size from 30 guests to over 1,500 guests attending our National Women In Business Awards.

“When you’re trying to make everything perfect for your guests and speakers, there’s bound to be a lot of stress and adrenaline. We work together as a team to ensure we’re well prepared for all eventualities but if there’s a sudden drop or spike in numbers after everything has been confirmed, then there could be a worry about space. We work closely with our venues so they’re able to accommodate us if we have changes in the numbers of guests.

“Another frustration could be around budget. We want to offer our members and their guests great events and training opportunities at cost effective prices, and so we have to keep an eye on the budget. Luckily we work with some great business partners, sponsors and supporters who help us achieve this goal. Recommendations always come in handy when organising event. Always ask – you may find you get exactly what you’re looking for.”

  1. Keith White, Head of PR & SEO, Dobell Menswear

“When running events it’s the unexpected elements that seem to have the ability to blindside you, at the last minute, that cause the most frustrations. I’ve ran a few events where this happened. One I remember, I was drafted in to host an awards evening event, due to illness, and was told that everything was set up, all I had to do was turn up and execute.

“When I got there I discovered the sound engineers didn’t have the correct cables to connect the sound system to the hotel’s speaker system, and as it was 11 pm at night, out in the country, there was no chance of obtaining one. I quickly had the idea of changing the room layout so that all the seats were in the centre of the room, instead of on the outside, and we sold it as an “intimate” style awards show. It actually worked amazingly well.

“When running an event you really have to write down every possible scenario, well in advance of your event, so you can formulate a plan B for them, and have the action list close to hand on the big day.

One of the frustrations – although you certainly can’t display your frustrations at them – are a client’s sudden change of mind with elements of the event, whilst you’re in the middle of running it! Sometimes it’s about exploring the ideas with them, to see if the changes are possible. If something can’t be done you need to explain why and set their expectations there and then. They’ll likely appreciate the fact that you tried, and get back to enjoying the event itself.”

Related: 10 Things that events managers will never get right

Conclusion

When trying to bring an ambitious project to fruition there will always be frustrations to face, but by their very nature event planners are well equipped to deal with them.

When a difficulty pops up, event organisers come into their own, deploying their well-honed organisational skills, creativity and problem solving abilities!

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