Planning an event is an incredibly complicated process that involves making hundreds or even thousands of decisions, each of which has to be right if you don’t want to risk your event falling apart.
However, even the best event management companies know that it’s impossible to completely eliminate risk – the best you can do is get in front of any potential disasters and make sure that they don’t happen.
But how to reduce the risks of your event falling apart?
Well, professional conference organizers and event planners know that when it comes to putting together one successful event after another, the key is preparation.
So, to help you implement some of the best practices from industry leaders for putting together a low-risk event, here are a few essential steps you should follow:
Identify the Biggest Risks Early
If you’re going to have any chance of organizing an event that goes without a hitch, you need to start preparing for the worst-case scenarios from day one.
It’s often tempting to hope for the best scenario and spend more time pushing your event to be the best it can, but the truth is, all of that effort will go to waste if you’ll end up facing a problem that you don’t have any way of dealing with.
When trying to identify the biggest potential issues, you should go through each part of the event planning process and look for areas that could potentially cause issues.
For instance, you should look at your catering options, and think about the biggest things that could go wrong. What would you do if the caterer got sick or couldn’t make it? What about if the food wouldn’t get prepared or delivered on time?
While these events may not be very likely, you can’t rely on chance for them not to happen and instead must take a proactive approach and line up an alternative that you can fall back upon immediately after something does go wrong.
And the first step of the process is listing as many potential problems as you can – only then will you be able to start ranking them by severity and by the likelihood of them happening. To help you with this process, be sure to check out our free Event Emergency Action Plan template.
Look for Ways to Reduce the Likelihood of Risks Occurring
Once you have your list of potential issues and have ranked it by their severity and chance of occurring, you can start identifying ways to reduce those risks from happening in the first place.
For instance, if your event will rely on audio and video equipment for making presentations, you could reduce the risk of something going wrong by deciding to spend a bit more on more expensive equipment or finding a venue that has multiple equipment options so that there’s always a backup.
The truth is, you might not be able to have a solid backup plan for every single thing that might go wrong, so you need to take the steps to at least minimize the chances of things going wrong in the first place, which is sometimes your best bet.
If there are significant risks that you cannot find a way to reduce, that may be a sign that you need to rethink your entire event and try to find a way to eliminate or alter that part of the event altogether.
Have a Contingency Plan
In the event management world, contingency is a buzz word that gets thrown around quite a lot, but the truth is, not all event agencies take the time to develop a plan that truly takes into account the biggest risks and puts in place a solution should they occur.
However, if you want to organize a low-risk event, you need to be willing to do the work and even allocate additional resources to making sure that the contingency plan can be implemented effectively. That being said, staff and volunteers can be a huge part of implementing risk management - particularly with the right tool in place (i.e. InitLive).
Having a backup plan for dealing with things going wrong doesn’t always have to cost money, but sometimes, you may need to spend some to have alternatives for the crucial parts of your event and to have a safety net that allows the event to go through, no matter what unexpected circumstances may arise.
Pre-event you can mitigate risk by making sure you have the right number of volunteers posted to each role and location of your event. During the recruitment phase, detailed information can also be provided for volunteers to help with be as prepared as possible.
When implementing a contingency plan, you must also establish clear communication channels between all of the team members to guarantee that each person involved in the project knows the exact steps that need to be taken to deal with issues that may arise, so that you’re not left scrambling to get your staff in order when action needs to be taken immediately.
Take the time to go over the contingency plans during a team meeting before the event, but also consider having an open discussion about the plan in the earlier stages, as members of your team may have valuable insights about how to improve the plan and make it more efficient.
Learn from Past Experiences
Post-event, take time to review communication logs and incident reports from during the event. You will want to use a tool to track this so that you can prevent the 'black hole' of event day (let's face it, it's hard to remember every detail!) and thereby prevent recurring problems and improve from one event to the next.
Even the best event planners have faced disasters during their events. Some even had their contingency plan fail miserably, ruining the entire event (to hear some real stories, check out our "That Moment When..." storybook).
However, the best event organizers, even after they go through a disaster, understand the importance of taking a step back and using this failure as an opportunity to learn and grow, which can help to greatly reduce the chances of something like that happening again in the future.
So, while it’s important to do your best when preparing for each event, you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you do end up missing something, as that cannot be avoided every time.
The important thing is to keep a positive attitude and view it as a learning experience – since it already happened and there’s nothing that can be done, the best you can do is to take the experience and figure out exactly what went wrong, why it went wrong, and what you could have done differently to prevent it.
InitLive's volunteer management system helps make managing staff easy from recruitment & scheduling, to day-of communication & check-ins, to equipping them for emergencies, to measuring your successes post-event. To learn more about how InitLive works, watch a demo now!
Author Bio: Sarah Hill is a content writer at Seven Events Ltd – one of the leading event companies in Birmingham providing event production, venue finding and conference planning and other corporate event services. She started her career in the events industry almost a decade ago; as time progressed she became an avid event blogger sharing her insight on corporate event planning.