10 Common Mistakes All Event Planners Make and How To Avoid Them

Setting up an event is a daunting task! Whether you’re planning an event for family and friends, for a company, or for your own profit as a business. If it’s the first time you’ve set up an event, the best thing you can do is take some time to read and learn from others, it’l stop you making the obvious mistakes that every new event planner will likely foray into!

Take a look at the tips below and you’ll be well on your way to mastering event management!


Forgetting about cancellations

Without a doubt, if you book market stalls, entertainment, bands, special guests and anything of that sort, make sure you get them to sign a contract up front. Just something simple will do, that has them agree if they cancel within a certain time period before an event they lose a deposit, and if they don’t turn up on the day or head off early, they lose the full amount.

If it’s someone who you’re paying to be there, ensure the opposite is true; that you have a contract that secures a full refund if they fail to perform or turn up.

With cancellations inevitable, ensure you have a back-up plan should it happen; anyone who contacts you when you’re event is fully booked and catered for should be noted down and put on a reserve list. That way there’s usually someone willing to fill in last minute.

Just using paper marketing

Paper marketing is great up to point, but here’s a good experiment; when you’re scouting out places to leave leaflets, make sure you check the dates on the other leaflets in that place – if they’re old, it’s likely not worth leaving anything there because they’re not being picked up.

You also need to be careful with posters. Not too many people read posters in the windows of newsagents anymore, and if they do, they tend to be older folk – which is great if that’s who you’re aiming your event at!

Paper marketing is now so overdone that it’s often seen as rubbish. Even if your flyer goes through a home letterbox, it might end up straight in the trash without a single glance, so ensure you’re as eye catching as possible, and stand out from your competitors for reader attention.

Some businesses are even finding traditional newspaper and magazine advertising considerably less effective now, so do your research and ensure your money is spent in the right areas. If advertising agents don’t have clear and to-the-point stats about not only readership, but also the return on investment that other businesses who advertised with them received, steer clear.

Just using online marketing

Younger people tend to be more drawn to online advertising. It’s quick, simple, cheap, and it doesn’t require setting foot outside the house. The temptations are obvious, as you even get a clear report of your advert’s effectiveness on most online platforms now, and with tools like Google Analytics, you can track the exact return on investment near perfectly.

However, if your event if aimed at families or pensioners, and not the younger people who tend to use Facebook and Twitter, you might be totally alienating a large part of your market. In this case, flyers and adverts are likely to work better, especially placed in establishments your market might frequent, such as hairdressers, doctors surgeries and supermarkets. Places where people have to wait, get bored and read are particularly good!

A ‘Build it and they will come attitude’

You could have the best idea for an event ever; you could book killer event entertainment, delicious food trucks and the best and most coveted traders, but it could still be a flop if you don’t nail your marketing.

Successful event planners sometimes get lazy and rely on their reputation to draw the crowds, but that’s an easy way to lose support. So many things are always competing for people’s attention and free time, so never get lazy with your marketing.

No Refreshments

People love food. People love a nice cuppa tea. People love to sit and relax whilst they refuel. If you’re planning an event that’s more than 1 hour long (and even then in some cases!) make sure you offer something simple like a tea and coffee stall with tables and chairs.

You’ll have even more success if you offer things like food trucks and exciting cuisines!

If the goal of your event is to get people to spend money, don’t underestimate the power of refreshments; some people don’t like to make impulse buys, so if they have the option to sit down, have a cup of tea and ponder, they’ll be likelier to come back and make purchases.

Plus tea and coffee is a great way to cover your event management costs if you don’t want to charge an entry fee. It always sells.

Food for All

Don’t forget to cater for all types of folk, especially if you’re expecting a larger footfall. Get traders or caterers to cover a variety of dietary requirements, food for kids, light nibbles for pensioners and more. The second people experience a bad case of ‘hangry’ (hungry and therefore, angry), they’ll be less likely to enjoy your event and stay a while.

Stretching Your Ideas Too Far

A company fun day would be great, but what if you had live music? That’d make it better. Oh and while you’re at it, you need food trucks, games, a fairground, a tombola, a luxury wine tasting experience, a magician, a petting zoo and… just take a step back!

Remember to only stretch yourself as far as your time, resources and funding allow. The more things you give yourself to manage, the lower the quality of each individual element will become.

Not Getting Enough Help / Volunteers

As we mentioned above, you can’t do everything alone! Make a careful schedule and don’t think you can do everything yourself. Remember everything will need managing. You might think you’ll be ok running a tea and coffee stall, but who’s going to be on hand to help visitors? Who’s going to help the live band set up? Who’s going to manage the deliveries and placement of your carefully selected event attractions?

Get people to help out, even if that means hiring someone. You’ll be grateful for it on the day.

Too Much of One Thing

If you’re running an event because you’re passionate about something, that’s wonderful if you’ve got lots of people who are just like you that will come along.

Realistically, you need to cast your net a little wider if you’re new to events and don’t have a massive mailing list of engaged, interested people.

For example, if you’re running a market, don’t book it full of craft stalls then worry when people get bored of browsing 20 stalls all selling similar things. Another example, if you’re aiming an event at children, remember their parents will be grateful for some sort of adult activity at your event too.

Using Gimicks, and finding out they’re copyrighted

How many family fun days have you seen this year marketed as ‘Frozen theme!’ or ‘Meet the minions!’ or ‘Special guest Elsa!’. Who can blame them, it’s an incredibly easy way to pull in addicted children and their subsequent parents.

But do you ever stop and think exactly why those Disney franchises appeal to kids so much? It’s because Disney has invested hundreds of thousands in marketing them – and Disney’s just going to let you use that massive investment they made for your own profit? Because Disney is run by friendly, understanding folk who love to share their millions?

Not quite!

Be careful if you market your event with a popular cartoon character or franchise as the theme, because you’re breeching copyrights, and lawyers have every right to tell you off about it. Then your event is history, or you’re paying back your profits in legal fees.

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