There are many priorities when you plan an event – the programming, the customer experience, the staffing, safety, aesthetics, etc. And the typical event planning process includes many meetings mapping out the perfect experience with the intended outcome.
And then event day comes…
And you encounter problems that you didn’t consider in advance…and wonder – why didn’t we think of that? How was that detail missed? What is happening here? HELP!!!
I have been a part of over 1,000 events in my career, from very small to very large (the Olympics), and in every one of them, something unexpected has occurred.
As an event planner, you have to walk in expecting the unexpected – and prepare for the worst scenario in every instance. On “game day” (as I still like to call it), you have to be prepared for everything. Yes, everything. That is why people are crazy to work in events – but we LOVE the challenge.
So here are some tips for Event Day Problem Solving, and how we handle these challenging scenarios:
1. Understand the GOAL of the event
Every single staff member, full-time to temp day staff, has to understand the GOAL or REASON for the event. This needs to be ingrained in them, so when they are problem solving, they will keep that in mind. Each decision has to be made with the intention to meet the goal of the event.
2. Create clear responsibilities & chain of command
Your team needs to understand their job and what is expected of them so they can perform well, and shine under pressure. It is the utmost importance to create a clear chain of command and structure around how you escalate decision-making. For instance, the person in charge of ticketing should not be solving problems with production – the production manager should. And vice versa. People are expected to be all hands on deck and help everyone out — but when it comes down to who makes the final call, it should be clear WHO can make that call. Also, define leaders of each “department” (sponsorship, ticketing, customer service, production, marketing, etc) and empower them to make the majority of the decisions. Therefore, fewer problems are escalated to the top.
3. Double-check everything. Actually triple-check.
You can never be too thorough in an event setting. Make the extra phone call, and get EVERYTHING in writing. For all of our events, we create a guidebook so everyone on site has all of the planning and documentation in one place, so we all know who/what/when/where things will be happening. And check it all again. And again. Sorry I can’t drive this point home enough.
4. Keep perspective
Remember – this isn’t brain surgery – so have fun. We have worked some events where everything was relaxed up until show day – and then you felt like you walked into a pressure cooker and everyone was about to explode. It’s tough to have perspective sometimes, but you have to take a deep breath, relax, and know that we are not sending rockets up into space. So enjoy it, have a smile on your face, and make it happen.
5. Have great problem solvers on your team
This is an imperative. We are currently working on an international tour, and a friend asked me what my day looked like when I was on-site. I thought about it and told her that all I do is solve problems. We have over 100 temporary staff working for us on show days, and we have to coach them on a concept and ask them to perform in a flawless manner with less then an hour of training. So I spend most of my time inspiring and helping them, and solving all of the unexpected problems that come along with the tour and handling a consumer activation. I am constantly thinking through the goals of the event, how this artist wants to treat her fans, and I measure each situation and decision against that. At the end of the night, my brain is tired!!
Events are awesome and extremely challenging. But we love them. Managing challenges are in our DNA here at maddjett. Let us know if we can ever help you strategize, plan, build or activate an event for you.