3 Common Pitfalls of Event Planning and How to Avoid Them

Banging your head against your desk after yet another vendor doesn’t return a call? Stressing over not knowing which team member booked the venue for your offsite event? We’ve been there. We have hosted hundreds of events ranging from Bar Mitzvahs to brand events to full on conferences in our space, handling every detail along the way. By surveying the office managers and event planners we’ve worked with, we found that most of them experience the same three snags when planning their events. Read on for tips on dealing with the most common stressors and time wasters for event planners.

1: Too many cooks in the kitchen

Delegate, delegate, delegate. How often do you hear that time management mantra? But bring too many people into planning an event and it creates chaos, not the elegant event experience you’re after. Working with too many vendors and having too many planners can derail the event planning process.

A gaggle of planners communicating with a plethora of vendors is a recipe for the worst imaginable game of event planning telephone. In an ideal situation, one planner communicates with one vendor who can handle all your needs for the event. Working with one vendor who can arrange the venue, catering, bartending, music, swag, and other elements of a kickass event can save you a headache. It pays to shop around for a solid all-in-one package.

If you must have multiple planners or vendors, designate one person to be the main point of contact for all vendors. This eliminates having information spread out among your team and lessens the risk of key details being forgotten. If you were planning a canoeing adventure for your team, you’d assign a trip leader. Your event planning team needs a leader to navigate the journey to creating a memorable experience.

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Pictured: Our preferred vendor Sugar and Spun. Getting too many people involved in the planning process will lead to a STICKY situation.

2: Trying to please everyone on your team

Try to imagine a perfect event that incorporates something every member of your team will enjoy. For Joey the Cat, that would be a live music event with cats roaming freely around the venue, a keg of craft beer, masseuses working on our skeeball shoulders, and the whole thing takes place on the ocean with floating Skeeball machines. Probably not going to happen. If you have any leads on how we can pull this off, send us an email.

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Actually, we’ll settle for anything with a masseuse. Pictured: AhhhMassage, our preferred massage vendor.

 

Your team is similar. Pleasing everyone without displeasing someone is impossible. So how do we still make everyone feel included? Always strive to have one major element of your event appeal to most people, but also provide ancillary options. For example, at our in-house venue events, the main focus is a Skeeball tournament. But people also have the option to play other arcade games, groove to some music, or enjoy a drink and socialize.

It can be hard, but it’s important to remember that work events are for our teams, not ourselves. Always keep in mind what will bring the team together and be enjoyable as a group. This often means friendly competition and good food, but if you work with a bunch of conflict-averse people who only eat PB&J every day then a high-stakes scavenger hunt through several restaurants probably won’t please anyone. But if everyone on your team is nostalgic and loves a bit of exercise, get that tetherball tournament going!

Don’t forget to follow up after your event. Sweet pictures and laughs at lunch about the offsite are good, but make sure you keep a pulse on what your team enjoyed and what helped them bond. This leads to even better future events.

3: Budget troubles and hidden fees

Budgets are fickle. You understand the value of an offsite event for your team’s morale, but the person approving your budget may not. If you get to call all the shots and have a million dollar budget, you’re living the dream. This advice is for those of us who must explain to our bosses that yes, engaged employees are better for the company. Actually a lot better according to research gathered by Dale Carnegie. An employee that experiences positive emotions is more engaged and companies with engaged employees “outperform those without by up to 202%”. Not something your company wants to miss out on. It’s key to communicate the impact your event will have on your fellow employees’ happiness, which is directly related to their productivity.

Justify your budget ahead of time so that whoever signs the check is on the same page as you. If any unforeseen budget cuts come up, your event can be saved from the chopping block since whoever controls the purse strings knows that your event will engage the team emotionally and boost their enthusiasm at work.

Always aim to be under budget and you’ll be loved. This is tough since many vendors bury hidden fees or may have a sliding scale they use to up-charge businesses in certain industries—like eager startups and successful tech companies. Ask these questions before booking:

  • Does the vendor have any cleaning, set up, or labor fees?
  • Do they charge for you to bring in food or alcohol?
  • Do they include a steep gratuity?
  • What is their cancellation policy?

If you ever feel like a vendor is being secretive or hiding something, don’t compromise. For almost any service, you can find another option and creativity can generate a one-of-a-kind experience that your coworkers talk about forever.

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With some planning, you and your team can be this happy at your next offsite event!

Remember These Tips

  1. Do your research! Ask lots of questions about vendor offerings, extra fees, and availability (more to come on that in a future blog post)!
  2. Use vendors that have already integrated other complementary vendors so it’s a smooth experience with one point of contact.
  3. Include diversity in your activity to allow options for multiple ways to have fun and engage your team!

When it comes to planning an awesome event, research and planning are key. Know who is the point person for coordinating vendors. Know which vendors are trusted in your region and try to use as few as possible to achieve your goals. Try to include diversity and options for multiple activities in your events, but if you try to please everyone no one will be happy. It’s cliché because it’s true.

The dream is coordinating with one fantastic vendor. And the dream is out there.

Have you run into some stressors not listed above? Post it in the comments below with how you solved it!