The 5 Most Common Mistakes in Event Planning (and how to avoid them!)

Events can be dogged by cost overruns, poor scheduling and customer dissatisfaction due to a range of factors related to planning, communication and resource allocation. Here are the five most common event planning mistakes, and ways smart event planners can avoid them.

Mistake No. 1: Failure to allocate the right resources, with the right skills.

Problem: It’s seems fairly obvious that proper event staffing is critical, yet improperly allocating resources tops the list of most common event management mistakes. Not having the right people managing an event can be a recipe for disaster. The key to a successful event is getting the right people with the right skills. All the planning in the world won't overcome an insufficiency of talent.

Solution: Event managers need full visibility into the skills and workloads of all of their resources, including vendors, contractors and outsourcers, who often get left out of skills assessments even though they're doing a "huge" proportion of work. A thorough assessment of all resources at the outset of the planning process can provide such visibility into everyone's skills and workloads. Once event planners know everyone's capabilities and who's doing what, it becomes far easier to figure out how to allocate resources across the myriad elements and day-to-day work.

Mistake No. 2: Failure to keep a track of changes to the scope of the event.

Problem: As with most real-life scenarios, most events will have changes in plans and scope before the big day. Failure to keep a track of the smallest change can mean an out of control budget, or an impossible timeline.

Solution: Following a formal 'change tracking process' is a simple but extremely effective way to keep changes documented, communicated and under control. The individual requesting the change (e.g. additional seating capacity or change in the food service) needs to explain the specific changes and the event manager needs to determine how that request will impact the budget, timeline and communicate it to all other stakeholders involved.

Mistake No. 3: Ignoring Murphy's Law.

Problem: If anything can go wrong, it probably will! Stuff happens at the last minute, leaving everybody surprised by it. Consequently, the event goes into a tailspin while the event planner tries to clean up a mess they had not anticipated.

Solution: Perform an event risk assessment as an early part of the event planning process. Set time aside with your event team to brainstorm  what could happen to derail the event, cause a budget overrun, or to prevent you from delivering the expected results. Then figure out ways you can mitigate those risks. This exercise doesn't take a long time, and it's enormously helpful in understanding the weak links before planning even gets underway.

Mistake No. 4: Lack of experienced event managers.

Problem: Event planning can quickly grow out of control without an experienced event manager at the helm who knows what they are doing.

Solution: The first step is to hire event managers with certifications and the finesse required to understand and manage the customer’s needs. Good event managers have the right combination of ‘soft skills’ and can demonstrate how to facilitate planning meetings, manage risk and handle a variety of different stakeholders. it’s really comes down to people skills, especially given the different stakeholders.

Mistake No. 5: Simple process mistakes by not following standard, repeatable event management processes.

Problem: This is a far more common event management mistake than most event planners imagine. Lack of an agreed uopn plan increases the risk that tasks related to the event will fall through the cracks, that the event will have last minute issues,  fall short on budget and ultimately miss a major objective.

Solution: A well defined and agreed upon event plan helps planners tackle every task efficiently and raises the appropriate level of awareness of all the activities involved in the execution of an event. Having baseline of repeatable processes for scoping, scheduling, allocating resources and communicating with stakeholders removes a lot of the guesswork associated with events.