In the events industry, a small mistake—anything from a scheduling error, a menu mix-up or even the weather—can derail any event.
How can you make sure your events run smooth? Here’s eight practical tips that hospitality and event professionals can use to minimize the chance of something going wrong.
1. Create event packages
One of the easiest ways to keep track of the details of an event is to decide them ahead of time. Design event packages for different types of events, such as wedding receptions, bachelor or bachelorette parties, holiday parties, corporate events, networking parties, conferences or group dinners. Provide some options to choose from for the menu, beverages, room set-up and the other more-common details that clients typically prefer to customize. Having a package means you’re not adding details from scratch and you’ll be less likely to miss something.
2. Have a contingency plan
If you’ve been working in the events industry for a while, you’ve most likely had an experience where some kind of mishap has occurred and you had to find a solution for it. Meet with your team and come up with a list of these mistakes and possible fixes so that you have a plan ready when you need one. When the solution involves a staff member or vendor, include their contact information so you’re not wasting time trying to find phone numbers and email addresses.
3. Watch the weather
This one is a no-brainer for event professionals who regularly plan outdoor events, but the weather can impact indoor celebrations as well. Winter storms, rain, excessive heat or extreme cold can cause a number of issues, including transportation delays for guests and staff, power outages or damage to the venue. When you book an event in the middle of the winter (in colder climates) or during hurricane season (in areas along the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean), discuss possible weather scenarios and how to handle them in terms of contacting the client and guests and making accommodations to reschedule their event.
4. Make a vendor list
You already have vendors you use on a regular basis, but do you have a list or directory of those vendors that’s accessible to your entire team if you need it in a crisis? When a couple’s wedding photographer cancels or a DJ doesn’t show up, have a vendor list ready to use so you can quickly find a substitute. Find several vendors for each type—photography, entertainment, audio/visual, caterers, florists—so you can keep moving down the list until you find someone who’s available.
5. Consult with an attorney
Your business or venue may already have an attorney that has reviewed your contracts with vendors and contracts that you regularly use with event clients. It’s a good idea to routinely review those contracts to ensure everything is up-to-date and correct. You also should discuss local and state laws that could impact your events, such as noise ordinances, alcohol licenses and occupancy limits in case anything has changed.
6. Check in with your insurance agent
Make sure to have a regular meeting with your insurance agent to keep on top of what your business is and is not liable for in case of an accident, cancellation, weather issues and other problems that can pop up. Update your client contracts if the policy changes.
7. Provide more than enough set-up and tear-down time
Give your staff a buffer when you’re establishing set-up and tear-down time with your event clients. That extra time could be critical if you’re dealing with a crisis and it may give you enough room to solve problems and not impact the event.
8. Have an accessible calendar
One of the biggest nightmares that event professionals have is overbooking their events. You can reduce that chance by creating an online calendar that’s accessible by your entire team and all of your venue’s departments. Mark your events as being booked or tentative as requests come in and provide daily updates to all teams so they know what events are happening that day and what’s coming up in the schedule.