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Mauri Gomez of Eventos Barcelona

The Five Most Common Event Planning Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them

Special events have five important pain points--here are the strategies that will help planners avoid them.

Events are stories: live and in real time.

What’s more, events have no delete button. As an event planner, you are certainly in the limelight, when things go right and when things go wrong. It’s no wonder that Forbes has ranked event planning as the eighth most stressful job out there.

Whether it’s a corporate function, a global festival, a product launch campaign or a private wedding, the delicate balancing act of a meticulous logistics operation, clear content strategy, as well as cosmic alignment, is quite an undertaking.

Then there’s the unfortunate reality that event planning is largely related to Murphy’s Law.

To try to get ahead of the curve, we have identified five event industry pain points, and our proposed touch points to resolve any event planning pitfalls.

Pain point 1: Losing sight of the plot.
A typical event planning blunder is to get caught up in trivialities and to forget the storyline altogether. While free drinks, a sunny day, and a beautiful venue are mainly happenstance event takeaways, the real sweet spot for having the event in the first place is typically to create some sort of impact.

Content messaging, whether it’s a simple tagline, mission or vision statement, is the basis of clear and concise event strategy.

What’s more, it has become an industry demand in the experiential economy. With millennials now driving the experience economy and opting for experiences over products, the space to create meaningful event narratives is essential.

Touch point: Content messaging: The messaging of the event should start with the onset of the guest journey; the invitation, pre-event app, even the sense of arrival, and then resonate right up to the post-event Net Promoter Score. Anchoring the messaging and then creating a list of content platforms will ensure the message sticks.

Pain point 2: Going over the budget.
Breaking the budget is pretty much a deal-breaker. It’s so easy to do that it’s so important to get it right. Hidden fees including taxes, permits, flight changes, and even traffic jams and finding alternate routes can quickly snowball into a whole list of expenses.

Touch point: The only real advice here is to have a margin of around 15 percent.

Pain point 3: Lack of cultural sensitivity.
Lack of cultural sensitivity is one of the biggest shortfalls for a global events series--from a strategic as well as activation standpoint.

I was recently involved in the LinkedIn Talent Awards global launch program with an event series planned for the Middle East, South America and parts of Europe. Careful attention to cultural nuances was essential here.

While the rollout plan and decision to launch in a particular city is typically linked to the brand’s overarching strategy, a simple blip like not considering Ramadan, Passover or an important public holiday can lead to a disaster.

From an activation standpoint, this can be amplified further with missteps such as a lack of attention to catering, toilet segregation and temperature regulation of the facilities, among other factors.

Touch point: Get local experts on the ground to sense check all aspects of your event; from the rollout dates to the food preparation and logistical setup.

Pain point 4: Inappropriate use of technology.
Technology can both enable and disable your event. From Slido and Crowd Compass to Zerista, apps can certainly create a seamless event experience. However, guests fumbling around on their phones logging into event apps, instead of engaging in the event itself, or scanners unable to read tickets because of heat or humidity can quickly doom the situation.

Touch point: Test everything as it will be on the event day from the perspective of the guest. Imagine the guest entering the space, bumping into friends, then looking for the sign to download the app. All those steps can interfere with what you might imagine as a foolproof plan. Also, using just one operating system can certainly help the flow.

Pain point 5: Poor timing.
The biggest caveat, of course, is the time crunch. While budgets can be in place, sharp and concise messaging implemented, technology fully rehearsed, and Ramadan considered, the biggest tipping point for any event is timing. From the crucial few seconds of an opening act to overcooking the main course, timing is everything--and there’s no going back.

Touch point: Make a critical-path time line. Make sure every detail is covered, including all imaginary scenarios that can disrupt that path, such as a short circuit, a traffic jam or a fast oven. The best event planners out there have truly mastered a critical path.

Mauri Gomez is a founding member of Eventos Barcelona, producing events and shows both nationally and internationally. From his base in Spain, he organizes large-scale events with prestigious companies such as National Geographic, Amazon, Huawei, Yahoo, Airbus and Swarovski. Eventos Barcelona oversees both creative and technical production for corporate and private events.

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