How to avoid a crisis: learn from global experts with this event management advice
Events management is challenging for even the most seasoned professional. With so many moving elements outside your control, there are always risks. As a PA or EA in a large company, you may be asked to manage events such as private dining, office parties, and client entertainment events. Events management is only one part of your job, so take advantage of this event management advice from the industry experts.
The team at HeadBox oversee thousands of events a year for a range of corporate clients. From meetings to 3,000 person conferences. We work with some huge global brands so we spoke to five of our biggest clients to gain exclusive event management advice, on how they stay calm when an issue arises and how best to ensure your event goes off without a hitch.
1. “Always have a plan B, and a plan C, and a plan D”
– Head of Events at a Global Advertising Agency
I was organising a large event for 2,000 people in one of London’s most iconic venues. Critical elements included a custom-built stage, special effects and a range of performers. During testing, we found that the wrong flame nozzles had been supplied for the special effects kit, and were producing flames three times higher than the law permitted. With the research completed ready for a plan B situation, we were able to courier the right flame nozzles to the venue in time to conduct a safety test before the doors opened. Crisis averted.
There is no ‘i’ in ‘event’. Every event requires putting your faith in other people, whether they are colleagues within your company or external suppliers, to deliver what is asked on time. You can’t be expected to manage the event, cook the food, serve the drinks, play the music and take the photographs by yourself. Getting experts involved in your event ensures that your attendees get the best possible experience. However, the more people that are involved, the higher the risk of crisis.
Your event will have several critical elements without which it would be a disaster. Should the unthinkable happen and you are left without one of your critical elements, you should have your solutions ready to go at a moment’s notice. That may mean knowing which suppliers or products can be used as an alternative, calling in favours from your colleagues and contacts, or even you stepping in to fill the gap.
The resounding event management advice here? Failure to plan means you’ve planned to fail.
2. “Make sure you receive, and read, the venue’s rules and regulations.”
– Head of Events at a Global Media Agency
It’s all about being prepared. The more you know, the lower the risk. Above all, your event must comply with health and safety policies and any of the venue’s policies that aim to prevent damage to the property.
Ensure you receive the venue’s rules and regulations, so you are aware beforehand about any element of your event that may be affected by policies. This is especially relevant when booking a landmark or historic venue, which may have more rules and regulations than your average venue.
On the day I was informed by the property manager that the lift could not be used for this purpose as it was reserved for use by disabled persons only. This tiny detail threatened to throw my event into chaos. I had to think on my feet to save this event from the brink, and it was imperative that my relationship with the property manager remain positive and professional.
Luckily the venue staff was happy to work with me on my plan B. I moved the arcade game entertainment and some of the decorations to a space downstairs, making my use of the lift unnecessary. There’s a lot to be said for quick thinking, professionalism, and flexibility, but do your research before your event and you can avoid a mistake like mine.
A simple yet important piece of event management advice; understand your venue inside out.
3. “Build strong relationships with suppliers you can trust.”
– Head of Events at a High Growth Tech Company
The events industry runs on networking and contacts. Attending events is a great way to meet potential speakers, suppliers, and venues. You never know what the future holds, so creating a good first impression and maintaining relationships is a must.
Treat every chance encounter as a potentially momentous networking opportunity. When you need to find a new supplier, go to your network to get recommendations. When you find a venue or supplier you know you can trust, think about building a partnership for future events.
I’ve been lucky enough to avoid a crisis thus far in my career, but I believe that strong relationships with suppliers have had a huge part to play in my success. My top piece of event management advice is to treat everybody as you would want to be treated, regardless of job title. You never know when you might need them.
4. “Be flexible with your plans and be prepared to compromise.”
– Head of Events at an International Real Estate Company
As we all know, events need people to make them work. Some people are utterly critical to the success of your event. Unfortunately, sometimes things happen and you are left without your critical people. Be prepared to be flexible and compromise on your vision if necessary.
Have a few alternative plans should any of your key people be unable to pull through on the day. Things happen. If a keynote speaker for whatever reason is not available on the day, you need to ensure that your attendees still get value from your event and that their impression of your event is one of the utmost professionalism.
My biggest crisis occurred one snowy winter when my seminar leader could no longer lead my seminar. The weather had caused commuter chaos, and he and many of the attendees could not get into central London to attend the session. With a reduced attendee list and no leader, something had to be done to provide value to those who had braved the weather to get to the venue.
We used some pre-written questions that had been intended for a post-seminar Q&A session, and an internal colleague stepped in to facilitate a roundtable so that I could focus on event management. In the end, we received rave reviews for one of the most engaging and thought-provoking seminars these C-level executives had attended on the topic. By quickly compromising on the structure of the event we were able to turn a crisis into a huge success.
5. “Take charge of the situation; lead.”
– Global Head of Events at a Travel Agency
In the event of a crisis, above all, it is imperative that you stay calm. An answer to your problem is there, but you won’t find it in a panic. Remove the anxiety and panic from your mind and focus on finding a solution to your problem.
Is the issue critical to the event’s success? Is there a workaround? Who can help to fix the problem? What is the plan B? Here is where all of those great relationships and personal attributes, like attention to detail that you have in spades will help you.
The most important thing is to find your solution and communicate it calmly and concisely to whoever you need to help make it a reality. In the midst of an event crisis, you don’t want to be dealing with any fallout from further miscommunication. Clear communication has never been so important. You need to lead the charge to save your event from disaster.
This is partly a question of confidence. Confidence may come from experience; once you have successfully managed crisis you will feel more confident to do so again in the future. Perhaps you might also benefit from training in leadership or in project management, to boost your confidence levels. Find a solution and lead the charge.
So there you have it, 5 pieces of brilliant event management advice from global event experts.
For the next event you plan, begin with HeadBox, where you can search, book and pay for a Space all from one place.