I recently received an email from a friend asking for some advice about common challenges we experience in dealing with event planners. As we are dealing with enquiries from direct clients as well as from many event organisers, our office team and (eventually) our facilitators all feel the effects of good, or not so good, event planning.
Here are two very different examples that I witnessed this week.
- Arriving at a very busy Heathrow hotel with almost every meeting room being used, the planning was still perfect from beginning to end. I met the venue event manager who had been fully briefed and, in seconds, knew exactly how to help us further. Our equipment was discreetly brought in, and the venue staff turned the room around in minutes so we could prepare and set up. Our choreographers Matt and Amy (pictured above) had the opportunity to meet the client, see the room and get ready calmly, before delivering an amazing Thriller activity for 60 guests.
- At another Central London hotel, the ill-informed security staff delayed us entering the building and then obstructed our loading via the nearest door. The venue staff were unaware of our activity and not ready to clear the room, nearly causing a delay to the afternoon session. This all added stress for everyone involved just before the team building session.
Quite often, the communication chain can be straightforward, with just a few phone calls and emails with a single person before the event. However, communications may involve multiple calls and emails even before meeting and communicating with the event organiser, venue staff, AV crew and, at long last, the end client. All along this chain, information can be misconstrued, changed or even entirely rejected.
It is our job, of course, to do everything possible to keep everything simple and accurate so that the event works perfectly but, sometimes, other links in the event chain are outside of our control.
Below is a list of points that we think are sometimes overlooked but ultimately make a big difference to the experience of participants:
- Clarifying everything spoken about verbally with an email. This is so simple but a vital practice. Even from the first call, you can avoid many pitfalls and problems by doing this.
- Get all the facts you can. Sometimes, after creating a proposal, the client adds a fundamental concept or direction that totally negates what has already been planned. This can be very time consuming. Make sure that PAs and assistants of decision makers truly understand their wishes and outcomes right from the outset.
- Occasionally, clients try to augment or alter an existing event format for no apparent reason. We are all for tailoring everything we do for clients and creating bespoke events is our speciality but often the experts being brought in to deliver an activity have a perfected format that will, in the end, create a better outcome.
- A complicated agenda and venue layout will simply get delegates annoyed and in the wrong frame of mind for learning. Great signage and the presence of event staff directing everyone into plenary or breakout sessions keep events flowing and on time. These also avoid wandering clients who are late and confused looking for meeting rooms.
- Often, we meet delegates just getting over long-distance flights (or even just normal transport) who are subjected to an immediate roller coaster ride of non-stop sessions, including team activities and dinner. Having some time to actually relax and make real colleague connections in the bar or by the pool is important. Sometimes, delegates are rushed through the day with too much information thrown at them.
The list is endless but the examples above show some of the things to look out for. We are always here to talk to you to help you with your next event so please contact us if you need any advice, ideas or help. Good luck with planning your next event!
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