There are few things as rewarding as bringing together a diverse team and putting together an event from start to finish, especially when things go well. However, there are also some pitfalls of event management. Knowing what the pitfalls are can help you avoid them and reap more of the rewards with fewer of the failures.

Common Pitfalls of Event Management

There are some pitfalls of event management that those who’ve planned an event will tell you to watch out for.

Pitfall # 1: Not Delegating

It’s hard to rely on other people to complete important tasks. For one thing, they sometimes let you down and don’t complete their part of the work. However, if you try to do everything yourself, you are going to get burned out fast. There does come a point where you have to just turn over some tasks to others on your team and trust that they will complete those tasks. Some things you can easily delegate include:

  • Making centerpieces
  • Keeping a database of attendees
  • Creating goodie bags
  • Organizing which rooms speakers will be in and finding out what equipment they’ll need

If the centerpieces don’t get made, it won’t be the end of the world, after all. You’ll know not to rely on that person the next year.

Pitfall # 2: Not Understanding Price Increases and Extra Fees

Did you know that if you block out some rooms in a hotel and people fail to attend your event that you could be on the hook to pay for those rooms not booked? Make sure you understand the specifics of any contracts you sign and that you can get enough registrants to cover costs. For example, if you book a caterer for 100 people and only 10 register, the caterer will likely still charge you as they have turned down other events to cater yours.

Pitfall # 3: Being Disorganized

A poor registration experience is one that will stick with attendees and impact their overall view of how the event went. Be organized, and if you are, not then enlist the help of someone who is. Automate as many registration processes as you can, including your database management, to avoid errors that cause hard feelings.

Pitfall # 4: Too Many or Not Enough Volunteers

I would probably argue that you can’t really have too many volunteers. It’s smart to have backups and you can always turn them loose the day of the event. However, having too few volunteers can present serious problems. For example, what if you have a major electrical problem during registration? Who do you send to go get hotel maintenance to fix the problem? You may be putting out five other fires and thus will need another person to go run that errand for you.

Pitfall # 5: Overspending

It’s easy to spend more than your budget allows. A good rule of thumb is to set aside 10-20% of your budget as an emergency or miscellaneous fund. Then, if on the day of the keynote speaker dinner, the caterer tells you that she is charging you a 10% surcharge because the price of beef went up, or she isn’t catering, you won’t have to scramble to feed 1,000 people. You’ll simply pay the charge out of the emergency fund and make a mental note to find a new caterer for next year, because this one clearly doesn’t understand how to estimate costs.

Pitfall # 6: Seating Plan Chaos

No matter who sits with whom, you can be sure that someone will feel slighted, be upset they aren’t with their friends, or some other complaint. There are a few ways you can rectify this problem.

  • Let people sit wherever they’d like
  • Have a few reserved tables for special speakers and guests (i.e. celebrities) and let everyone else sit where they’d like
  • Seat people by department
  • Have them draw a letter at registration and that is the table they sit at

You get the idea. Whatever plan you go with, stick to it, but do try to accommodate the few people complaining if at all possible. You might not be able to seat Complainer A at the keynote table, but maybe you can get her at the table next to that one.

Pitfall # 7: Not Allowing Enough Time for Planning

Event planning is time consuming, and the bigger the event the more time it takes. Even if you have more volunteers than you can utilize, you have to have time to touch base with each one, to follow up and make sure everything is scheduled, to visit the event venue, and on and on. Whatever amount of time you think it will take you to plan the event, double or even triple it to be on the safe side.

Pitfall # 8: Not Having a Way to Relieve Stress

Planning an event can be stressful. You can rest assured that things will go wrong, people will let you down, and you’ll be in a last minute panic at some point. Have an arsenal of tools to help relieve stress. Take an exercise class, practice deep breathing, get a massage at the end of a long day at the event, and so on. You’ll also want a safe person to vent to.

Event planning can be extremely rewarding. It can also be extremely challenging. Understanding the challenges will allow you to circumvent them and host a successful event.