5 Common Problems That Can Ruin Your Event

August 2, 2020  |  by:

Worried that something might ruin your event? Well, here’s how you can plan for the many ways your event might go wrong.

Planning, planning, planning. That is what we do. But we all know that sometimes stuff goes wrong. And you can’t plan for that, right? Well, maybe you can. I’m not saying that you need to think of everything that may go wrong and have a possible solution, but every planner should have thought of these things in advance.

Weather Can Dampen Your Event

Weather Can Dampen Your Event
Photo by Jayson Hinrichsen

I know, you’ve heard this a million times before. Weather is unpredictable. Have a Plan B.  

Can you believe that I didn’t have a Plan B for my outdoor wedding? I got married in my in-laws’ yard. We had separate tents for the ceremony, the meal seating, and (some of) the dance floor, but nothing to protect people going between the spaces. Fortunately, we got no more than a few drops, but anything more substantial than a drizzle would have caused some mud. And mud can ruin your event and your wedding dress.

Lesson learned – If you are having an outdoor event, secure some covered space in the case of storms or unexpected heat.

So first, choose a wise date for your location. Chicago in January means you will probably have snow. Miami in September is in the middle of the hurricane season. Then monitor the weather in the weeks and days leading up to the event. If plans change due to weather, make sure everyone is notified immediately, which is easy to do with event planning software.  

Tardiness Can Ruin Your Event

Tardiness Can Ruin Your Event
Photo by Andy Beales

People are late. I’m not, but most people are. The flight was delayed. I had a flat tire. The train broke down. The babysitter missed the bus. I forgot about the time change. A water main burst. The drawbridge got stuck in the open position. My chocolate-covered child gave me a hug on the way out, and I had to change my clothes. There was a parade.

I’ve heard them all. There is always a reason for being late.

You should have a plan for how to deal with latecomer attendees. Your plan should be respectful to them without disrupting the rest of your event.

The Lyric Opera in Chicago has a plan. If you arrive at the theatre after the curtain goes up, you watch the first act on via television from chairs in the lobby, affectionately known as “the opera penalty box.” It’s not meant to shame anyone, but as a way for performers to not lose their concentration.

But what if a participant is late? If possible, you should have an alternative order of events or something extra to be used as a placeholder.

Traffic Always Sucks, Right?

Traffic
Photo by Jacek Dylag

This is the main reason that people are late, which is quite disruptive, so much so that it deserves its own category. Start with prevention. Hold your event at a convenient time, but be aware that starting half an hour earlier or later may make attendance more likely.  

Also, try not to compete with other high-traffic major events, such as holding your event during a marathon weekend. Not only will the city be full, but many streets will be closed off to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Give your participants and attendees as much information as possible as to how to get to your event. Let then know where to park. Advise them which entrance of the building to be dropped off at. Remind them which transit stops are closest.  

People like it when things are easy for them. Having that information available in advance is a detail that will make your event more enjoyable since it is one less thing they need to worry about.

Vendor Cancelation Can Definitely Ruin Your Event

Photo by Ben White

Sometimes your vendor goes on vacation. Sometimes your vendor goes bankrupt. There is no easy fix for this. If this occurs, you need to find an alternate vendor as soon as possible. There may be some legal wrangling that can occur after the event. Still, the first priority is to find a suitable alternative.

This will be difficult, but it will be where your skills will shine. While this could be a disaster for people organizing an event without a planner, you’ve got this. This is why most planners maintain good relationships with multiple vendors.

Illness, Obviously, Can Ruin Your Event

Illness, Obviously, Can Ruin Your Event
Photo by Isabella and Louisa Fischer

Let’s start with pandemics. Currently, there really isn’t much to say about that besides following your government’s rules and recommendations.

Now that that is out of the way, we can discuss illnesses like a speaker who has laryngitis or the DJ who gets food poisoning. If a participant in your event needs to cancel due to illness, you need to find a suitable alternative. The participant may have already thought of one, so reach out to that person first. Otherwise, like with vendor cancelations, you will need to search your contacts for a suitable alternative.

But what if an attendee gests ill during your event? It does happen more often than not. On my checklist, I always include a first aid kit that contains a few bandages, antihistamine, painkillers, antacid, etc. These small items may make the difference between the attendees enjoying your event or not.

Disruptions happen. But spending some time beforehand thinking about how to mitigate common scenarios can prevent a disastrous disruption.

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