Event management takes a special set of skills to pull off successfully. It requires intense organization, creativity, and quick thinking to deliver an engaging event that people enjoy and remember. On the road to planning and executing that one-of-a-kind event, some speed bumps are bound to be encountered along the way. Experienced event managers have the foresight to anticipate these issues and prepare accordingly, effectively turning event management challenges into opportunities. This article aims to capture that foresight within a list of 13 management problems and solutions.
Top 13 Challenges of Event Management (and How to Overcome Them)
1. Underestimating the complexity
This is common, especially for newer event planners. The challenges of event management are complex, with lots of details to consider. Inexperienced or ill-prepared event planners may not realize how long certain things take to plan, or how far in advance you need to lock in details. Avoid this by planning ahead, and hiring help if needed.
2. Lack of creativity
Events are supposed to be fun! Even work-related events are meant to be engaging and informative. If there is no creativity put into the event planning process, it will show. Picture a school prom without a theme, a wedding without a playlist, or a Halloween party without costumes. An uninspired event will bore attendees, and the only chatter will be about how dull the experience was. To avoid this, consider holding brainstorm sessions. Gather team members and discuss their favorite things about events they’ve attended. Come up with ideas that can be applied to your event and use input from your team to create fresh ideas.
Budgeting is definitely one of the most difficult pieces of the event planning process. Planning and paying as you go will often get you into financial hot water, and can cause you to either go way over budget, or be forced to slash line items in order to stay on track. To avoid this happening, there are several things you can do. Get quotes in writing from vendors, along with an end date for the pricing. Locking in pricing can help a great deal, and planning in advance using quotes can allow you to have your budget and event mapped out prior to actually spending the money. This careful planning can help you avoid nasty surprises and expenses.
4. Flying without a net
This is related to the budgeting aspect of the event plan. One of the worst mistakes an event planner can make is not expecting the unexpected. There will very likely be unexpected expenses. These could include everything from catering allergen-free meals to covering unexpected transportation costs. Plan your event budget and leave a significant cushion so you can cover these expenses without losing money. (You know the planners of the Fyre Festival sure wish they had!)
An event has a lot of moving parts, and it’s important to stay on top of each task so details are not forgotten. Advance planning and creating a timeline that allows you to break down your plan into smaller tasks can help keep you from feeling overwhelmed. It also makes it easy to keep your clients updated on progress, and for everyone to see where you are in the process.
6. Audio visual failures and technical issues
There are few things more awkward than a presentation flaming out spectacularly due to audio or visual issues. It’s likely your event speakers are well-respected in their field, and being unprepared in front of them will not feel pleasant. To ensure everything runs smoothly, build time into your event for the AV team to do a run through and check for any potential issues. You should also have people on hand for each presentation who are trained to resolve any potential issues. This way, your bases are covered if something does happen.
7. Uniqueness and innovation
Many people who attend conferences, lectures, and other events do so as a regular part of their work or creative life. While that’s certainly not an issue, it can become one if your event lacks originality. Without creative ideas and unique content, your event will be just more of the same to your attendees. Work hard to overcome this by planning and using the innovations you got from your brainstorm sessions to present truly out-of-the-box scenarios at your event.
8. Audience engagement
If you have not thought of ways to engage your event audience, then you have failed. Attendees don’t want to simply listen to speakers and not be able to engage. They want to meet one another and truly engage with the content at the event. You can help this along by encouraging speakers to ask audience questions, holding Q-and-A sessions, planning breakout groups, and encouraging mingling among attendees. You can also help them engage on social media. Plan and post hashtags publicly, have photo opportunities, and more. For example, a graduation event with a step and repeat background like a red carpet will inspire photos and hashtag usage. This will not only help people at your event connect, it will help spread your brand’s message.
9. Contingency planning
By now, the amount of planning that goes into an event might seem overwhelming. The good news is, as you gain experience, the process will get easier. In addition to planning your event timeline, you also need to consider contingency or backup plans. For example, if your event is outdoors, what happens if it rains? If your event is a concert, what if the artist cancels? What if the flu infects your entire events team and they can’t attend? Any or all of these can happen, and having backup plans can help. You’ll want to have alternate plans for things like venues, catering, speakers, and more. For some, you may even want to go as far as getting quotes just in case. For example, there are many staffing companies that can find event staff on short notice. You can get quotes and availability, as well as booking criteria, in case they’re needed. That way if an issue arises, you’re already dealing with it.
10. Client satisfaction
It’s important to remember that your client is judging you on the entire process. If the planning is a mess and the event is great, it’s likely they still won’t be pleased. Work with your client and keep them apprised of where you are in the process. One easy way to do this is by sharing an event checklist. This can be based on your event timeline, and provides an easy way for your client to keep up with all the event details.
11. Venue and vendor selection
Selecting venues and finding vendors for events is a challenging process. There is a lot of variety and competition, and top vendors are often booked well in advance. This will be an ongoing process for each event, but developing solid relationships with key vendors and service providers will only serve you well. A good working rapport can really help keep events running smoothly, and help you snag prime dates and pricing.
12. Attendance tracking
You absolutely cannot forget this very important step! When developing your registration process, make sure you are also tracking attendance. This will matter so much in every aspect of planning, from meal preparation, accommodations, and more. For example, if your event is shaping up to be smaller than anticipated, you can avoid the stigma of barely filled rooms by switching presentations into a more suitable space. It’s also important in budgeting. You don’t want to overspend unnecessarily, like purchasing dinner for 120 when you only have 80 attendees.You’ll also want to track cancellations for this same reason.
13. Regulations and legalities
It’s important to know event rules and regulations when planning any conference, but it’s especially important in this current COVID era. Laws between states and even counties vary when it comes to COVID restrictions along with other everyday things like liquor sales, noise level, and more. Familiarize yourself with any relevant legalities and industry regulations before committing to an event location.
Turning Event Management Challenges into Opportunities
The list of event management challenges may seem daunting, but with good partners and good planning, your event can also provide amazing opportunities. Here are just a few silver linings:
- Gaining insight: Experience in event planning will only help you continue to excel in the field. Part of a successful event is follow-up. The best way to do this is on-site or very soon after the event, so attendee recollections are fresh. Surveying attendees will help you fix any potential snags and plan an even better event in the future.
- Networking: When you are the event host, everyone remembers you. Hosting an event provides an amazing networking opportunity. Hosting a successful, enjoyable event can do more for your brand than you might even be able to conceive of!
- Finding great vendors: When you approach each event carefully, you’re highly likely to form strong relationships with vendors who work well with you. You’ll also start to recognize the signs of a good partner, which can come in handy when planning an event in a new location.
Speaking of great vendors, AMP Event Group is a woman-owned and operated company providing event management services nationwide as well as AV equipment rentals in the Philadelphia area. 600+ happy clients can attest to the quality of our work. Our team’s knowledge of venues around the country has been leveraged in producing 3,000+ amazing events. But don’t just take our word for it: view our results.