You’re a stickler for planning. On any given day, you check, double check and then – once more for good measure – check again that your T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted. Which makes for smooth sailing before, during, and after your events. Until the day you’re faced with an event plan that’s not only fallen flat, but one that’s crashed and burned on a scale that could rival the Hindenburg disaster.

During your career as an event planner, you will be faced with one of the event disasters below – regardless of how watertight your event plan is. Before you start to count your losses, hold up: we’ve compiled the best ways to remedy an event plan that’s veered off course.

Event disaster number one: Your venue costs go through the roof.

It’s no secret that venues gobble up a substantial portion of your event budget. Most sought after venues stipulate that all catering must be done in house. Unsurprisingly, this is where they make their money. If your client is set on a venue that charges an arm and a leg for an entrée, consider mitigating exorbitant catering costs by having a sponsored cocktail hour or after-event meet and greet over dessert. That way, your client’s brand benefits by having an industry-related brand on board, and your budget can stretch that much further.

Event disaster number two: High guest drop-out rate

Dealing with the ramifications of flaky guests is part and parcel of the job. The majority of events (save for a One Direction concert) will have no-shows. Blame it on a lunar eclipse or a cold front that arrives with no warning, a portion of your guests will be flaky. This situation calls for some number crunching. Use your past event data to determine – on average – how many people drop out. If for example, 3 out of 100 people don’t arrive, factor this into your event plan and number of guests you invite. It’s also advisable to further safeguard against a high drop-out rate with a marketing campaign prior to the event; regular pre-event communication facilitates a sense of anticipation, and best of all, keeps your event top of mind.

Event disaster number three: Your sought after speaker cancels at last minute

If there was ever an example of the power of good relationships with your vendors, this is it. Speakers and entertainers are less likely to leave you hanging if you’ve nurtured a relationship with them throughout the year. Spend time with them – even when they’re not booked for an upcoming event. In addition, offering your help with event content goes a long way in ensuring your event plan goes off without a hitch.

Event disaster number four: You get bad press on social media

If you’re running a public event, having a dedicated social media team is a must. If no one is monitoring what’s being posted about your event, dealing with the ramifications of negative sentiment on social media is that much harder if it’s not done immediately. Reigning in naysayers on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn boils down to timing – make sure you’ve got a team on board who’re thoroughly briefed as to the best way to respond to criticism in the public eye.

Event disaster number five: Lack of data about attendees

If you find yourself coming up short with information about your guests, it’s high time you invested in Event Management Software. Many clients have several events during the year – with variations of the same guest list. If you’re re-inviting people to an event, you’ll be able to pre-populate form fields such as: name of partner, car registration number, cocktail preference, etc. – in fact, the possibilities are endless and entirely based on the depth of data you need to collect. In addition, running a post-event survey from your Event Management Software enables you to tap into the zeitgeist of the event – collecting feedback as soon as an event comes to a close.

Image credit: brideonline.com


The beginning of an event sets the tone for the entire function. Making the best possible first impression is crucial if you want your guests to become brand advocates. Theoretically, a fool-proof event plan should mean smooth sailing. In practice though, your meticulous planning can veer wildly off course. Tom Hanks’ infamous line from the movie Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”, couldn’t be truer for the eventing industry. In the event world, there are surprises lurking around every corner. Planning for every single eventuality (no matter how unlikely it may seem) – is paramount.

Orchestrating a corporate event leaves no time for monkey business. Unfortunately, this event was filled with just that.

Whenever we advise our clients to never, ever, ever, assume anything, we’re reminded of a debacle that involved a high-profile corporate event held at a bush lodge. While a venue in the great outdoors can make for a stunning event, it does come with its own challenges. While we’d prepared for any eventuality, the one thing we hadn’t counted one was being outsmarted by a troop of marauding monkeys. Yes, that’s right, an event consisting of 200 delegates was almost brought to a standstill, thanks to a bunch of mischievous apes.

We’d compiled luxury welcome baskets for the entire guest list, unfortunately, the local monkeys mistook these for an early Christmas present.

A miscommunication with the venue in question resulted in the event managing team having to pack and deliver welcome baskets to our guests’ rooms at the last minute. Since the venue had originally said they’d do this for us, we didn’t have keys to the room. This didn’t seem to be a problem until we realised that as soon as we’d put the edible welcome gifts outside each room, a troop of gleeful monkeys would descend on what they no doubt thought of as manna from heaven. An amusing scenario – for everyone but the event planning team.

While you might never have to deal with a thieving troop of monkeys, you will have to deal with unexpected obstacles.

It’s always only in hindsight that one realises what you should have done. In this case, the gift baskets should have been pre-packed and sealed. Importantly, it should have been made explicitly clear what was needed from the venue’s staff. While we can’t hop in a time machine and do this, we can share our learnings. An event plan that includes contingencies for every possible event is key. In addition, a team of fast-thinking event planners who’re all on the same page goes a long way when push comes to shove.

If you want to ensure that you’re able to tackle whatever an event throws at you, you’ll need to have all of your information in the same place.

All of your guest list data needs to be stored in one central database that’s accessible remotely. It should also be updated in real time. Equipping yourself with the necessary event planning software facilitates teamwork, enabling you to respond to last minute emergencies that much faster.

If you’d like to find out more about our event management software that helps top South African brands stay ahead of the game, give us a call or drop us an email.

Image Credit: Crazy Goan Girl