Five Ways to Prepare Your Event for the Worst (And Hope for the Best)

The best event marketers and guest management professionals follow the same motto as the Boy Scouts, “be prepared.” They are ready for anything and everything… There’s a 5% chance of rain for an outdoor seated dinner? Go ahead and buy the tents anyway. TSA employees are threatening to strike?  Get that luxury bus company we worked with last year on the phone. 

As an experiential marketer, I am a harsh critic of events and notice details that the average guest might overlook. Of course, problems will arise, but how an event staff handles hiccups while keeping guests happy is everything. Brainstorming potential problems and thoughtfully considering solutions before they happen will save you time, energy, and brain cells when the wifi goes out and thousands of guests are trying to upload their Instagram Stories.

Read below for five ways you can better prepare for your upcoming event now and save yourself a headache later.

  1. Book extra hotel rooms: Inevitably, when a large number of guests are checking into their hotel, something is going to go awry. Whether the front desk employee looks up the guest’s name incorrectly or the reservation was lost, the last thing you want is a guest standing in the hotel lobby with no room and no plan. This is why we suggest keeping a few extra rooms in your back pocket so you can transfer your displaced guest to an extra room quickly and easily
  2. Go beyond Plan B: Try as you might, you don’t have control over guests’ flights, traffic, or the weather. That’s why it is not only important to have a “Plan B”, but also plans C-G. When your main speaker gets snowed in at home and your backup speaker misses her flight, have someone local in mind and prepared to step in with a killer presentation they have ready (for example, someone who has just spoken at a recent event with a different audience). Have the numbers of at least two or three other transportation companies on hand so you can call right away if your shuttle bus gets caught behind a pile-up. The last thing you want to do when you’re panicked is research
  3. Over staff (it’s a good thing): With venue employees, brand ambassadors, and wranglers stationed around every corner, your guests never have to feel lost or abandoned. More than anything, make sure your working staff is trained on the venue layout and able to effectively communicate directions, because they are going to spend the day directing people to the closest bathroom, phone charging station, and cab line
  4. Prepare attendees for a check-in headache, but don’t deliver one: At HubSpot’s annual user conference, Inbound, attendees were prepared for the worst, but got the best. Emails sent out as the conference began warned of lines 30 minutes or more during the check-in process, making the actual reality (under 60 seconds) an even greater delight. Similar to the US Customs process, attendees first self-checked-in at a laptop, the received their badges directly from an Inbound staff member — uniting both automated and human-to-human interactions
  5. Rack up contact information: A CIA dossier should pale in comparison to the file you have on your attendees. Well, at least your VIPs, contest winners, and other special guests. You never know when phones will die or when email will get sent to the spam folder. Get as much information for your contacts as possible: phone number(s) and email are a bare minimum. Also gather their Twitter handle, phone and address of where they are staying (if you didn’t book it yourself), and the names and numbers of any people with whom they’ll be traveling