Without stress, human beings wouldn’t have evolved. Stress notifies us of potential dangers, enabling us to act swiftly. While we may not have to watch out for any roaming Wildebeest, we face stressful situations on a daily basis. If you’re an event planner, ‘stressed’ is likely to be your resting state. As beneficial as stress can be, it can also be incredibly detrimental to your health, and career. That said, one person’s stressful day may be a walk in the park for another. Answer the following questions and see how you fare on the stress management scale.

1. It’s 6am on a Monday morning, and your to-do list rivals the length of War and Peace. You’re most likely to be found:

a) In bed. You’ve been awake since 3am after two hours of restless sleep, and are unable to get into the shower from sheer panic at the day that awaits. You have a Xanax and wait for it to kick in.

b) You put your alarm on snooze for another 45 minutes, and then leisurely make your way to the kitchen, where you spend another 45 minutes sipping your coffee until you realise you’re due in a meeting in 20 minutes.

c) You wake up as your alarm goes off, ready to tackle the day with a detailed action plan.

2. You have a presentation with a client, and if all goes well, you’ll land a lucrative contract for the next year. Do you:

a) Put a slideshow together 30 minutes before you’re due to face the client, based on some quick Googling you got your PA to do. Drive to the meeting in a panic, only to be informed that the meeting was in fact, yesterday.

b) Drive to the meeting in your gym clothes, armed with only a generic presentation on your laptop. You’re confident your charm is more than sufficient to seal the deal.

c) Dedicate time in the month running up to the meeting, where you attempt to find out as much as you can about the client. You painstakingly compile a presentation based on factual data about their brand and past events.

3. When it comes to spending time with your nearest and dearest, your approach to socialising is:

a) A quick scroll through your Facebook feed while you wolf down a Woolies ready-meal in front of a PVR marathon of The Great South African Bake Off. Who has time for a social life?

b) You regularly take long, leisurely lunches with friends, and often duck out of events to attend dinner parties, living by the mantra ‘all work and no play makes Jackie a dull woman’. (Partying is a form of stress management after all.)

c) You schedule dates according to your calendar; your friends understand that your career demands long hours, but know that when you have time, you’re always up for a Sunday stroll or phone call.

4. You’ve just been for your annual health check-up, and the verdict is:

a) Your stress levels are so high that even though you’re 43, you’re exhibiting symptoms typical of a 65 year old. Your doctor instructs you to cut out caffeine, take up Yoga and get a full 8 hours of sleep. As you walk out of the appointment, you down a Red Bull and toss the script in a bin. You have work to do!

b) Indulgent lunches and a fondness for post-event celebratory wine have increased your cholesterol levels. Your doctor advises that you cut out saturated fats and alcohol. You respond by thinking ‘life without butter isn’t a life worth living’ and justify tucking into a cheese board by reminding yourself that Tim Noakes would approve.

c) Good! Your approach to stress management is holistic; you try to get as much sleep as you can, religiously sip on water throughout the day, and get a quick walk in before work.

Your approach to stress management is as follows:

Mostly as:
Non-existent. Stress management is the last thing on your never-ending to-do list. Your high-stress life isn’t just detrimental to your health, but to your career too. A little bit of planning goes a long way, as does some much needed screen-free time. Aim to schedule some ‘me time’ once a week – your body, mind and clients will thank you.

Mostly bs:
Misinformed. While letting your hair down is an effective form of stress management, your career and personal life seem to be out of sync. By focusing more o\n your professional life, your down time will be that much sweeter. What’s more, your working life is bound to thrive too.

Mostly cs:
Just right. You’ve found the balance between work and play, and are reaping the benefits.

Download our eBook, ‘The Practical Guide to Professional RSVP’ to learn more about time management, as well as how an automated RSVP system can help you do more in a fraction of the time.

Image Credit: timewellness.files.wordpress.com

As a corporate event organiser, getting people to actually come to your event is one of the biggest challenges that you will face. Here we take a look at how corporate events have evolved and highlight some of the most important trends going into 2014, thereby offering you everything you need to know to evaluate (and reconsider) your current approach to event registration.

Successful event registrations

Here are the seven things we’ve noticed:

1. A successful event offers collaborative planning. 
Allowing potential guests to give input into who they would like the speakers and topics of discussion to be will increase their desire to attend the event.

2. Offer your guests options. 
Once at your event, delegates like to have a choice in terms of which lectures, discussions, panels or speakers they want to attend. Invitations that offer attendees a degree of autonomy are more likely to attract positive RSVPs. 2. A successful event doesn’t have to call itself an ‘event’. Sometimes your delegates may be more inclined to attend an event when it goes by the name of ‘hackathon’, ‘camp’, ‘colab’ or ‘jam’, all of which illustrate that they revolve around an activity. Delegates may want to feel involved and get active rather than just passively attend an event.

3. A successful event connects people.
Networking shouldn’t just be a by-product of a corporate event, it should be a priority, incorporated into the programme design. People are far more likely to attend events with innate, guaranteed networking facilitation, where they are not only going to learn something practical but they’re also going to meet like-minded people. The opportunity to do both usually proves irresistible.

4. A successful event needs to be collaborative.
Delegates no longer want events based on the exchange of information, but rather the assurance of participative learning. Event organisers need to think carefully about how to configure their venues and who to choose to run sessions in order to deliver the most engaging guest experience.

5. A successful event makes use of apps. 
Delegates don’t want a lengthy check-in process, so utilising an app that can be accessed on a smart phone or iPad offers the assurance of a painlessly smooth signing-in process. The RSVP Agency’s event registration technology does just that.

6. A successful event does something good. 
Events that raise funds for a worthy cause or in some other way benefit a good cause are more likely to attract a crowd than those without any such added factor.

7. A successful event is fun.
With corporate budgets taking strain during the recession, there often hasn’t been money available to have fun. It’s time to remind ourselves that people are the most engaged (and engaging) when they’re having a good time. If you can find some fun angle for your event then you can use that as a hook in your invitation to draw delegates into attending.

The biggest thing to remember when planning your next corporate event is to bear in mind who you are planning for. This might sound like very basic advice, but it’s all too easy to get caught up in the logistics of planning speakers and itemising timetables and therefore forget that the most important part of any event is the event delegates. All the 2014 trends in event registration are centred on the guests, and understanding what they want from the experience. Bear this in mind and we’re confident that your event registrations for the year will turn out to be a great success.

Planning an event is without a doubt a stressful exercise. There are so many lists, details, phone calls, and other elements to think about and do. Sometimes, just considering planning an event can be stressful. However, with the right tools and the right approach to managing your event, there are easy ways to reduce your stress – especially if you plan ahead, stick to your deadlines and manage your budget well.

1. Try your best to not leave ANYTHING to the last minute.

Sure, this might seem like an obvious, easy tip, but the temptation to say “that’ll be quick to do on the day of the event” is strong, so resist it! Something as simple as popping out to collect something, might seem like a five-minute errand, but it could turn into a time management nightmare, leaving you stressed and running late. Take care of every single little thing that can possibly be completed and set in place by the day before the event, and rather risk having too much time on your hands on the day than too little.

2. Booking a setup day is vital if you want to run a stress-free event.

Make sure that your project plan includes enough rehearsal time, especially if you are rehearsing presenters and presentations. 99% of the time you will run over, so make sure you allow for this extra time.

3. The key to taking care of every single little thing is keeping track of every single little thing.

Lists – they are your best friend. A carefully thought out list, or timeplan, should take care of everything from pre-planning details to guests, venue and catering, décor and flowers, and delegation of tasks. From start to end, you’ll be able to see the bigger picture, while keeping an eye on the details as well.

4. Stick to your budget like super-glue.

Draw up a budget in a spreadsheet and stick to it. You can save by negotiating prices for buying in bulk or getting sponsors for awards and prizes. Record expenses as you go along to ensure you don’t exceed the budget, and remember that small expenses quickly add up. Also remember to keep slips if you are paying for something out of your own pocket – it’s very easy to blow the budget at the last minute in this way.

5. Factor in last-minute emergency purchases.

No matter how excellent your event planning skills might be, there’s almost always a last-minute dash to the shop for a forgotten something. To avoid a mad rush and spiked stress levels, make sure you always have petty cash on hand and that there is a car ready for you if you need it.

6. Set the tables and food station in advance.

 Set the tables and food station the day before the event. If for some reason pre-setting it isn’t an option, it’s still possible to reduce the workload on the day by stacking the right number of plates, glasses and silverware for each table in marked boxes. Dividing up tables’ requirements into individual boxes also makes unpacking and repacking after your event that much easier and quicker.

7. Reduce the risk of breakages.

When you’re a ball of stress, there’s nothing quite like the sound of breaking glass to send you over the edge. When planning your event, you might be forced to settle for casual waiting staff, which is potentially a dangerous situation when it comes to crystalware. While you can’t always control the staff, you can control the servingware that you use. Picking practical glassware can save you money and avoid a major freak out if something breaks. Opt for short squat tumblers or, in the case of champagne and wine, crystal flutes with a large flat foot rather than long stemmed glasses. Go so far as to ensure that all serving trays have a piece of fabric on them, or choose trays coated in a non-slip finish.

8. Choose your team carefully.

You can’t manage the organising of a big event on your own – event managers who try this are asking for high blood pressure. What you need is a carefully selected team of talented, capable people whom you trust. As the leader you need to delegate, sending others out on errands so that you can stay put, where you’re needed. If any problem-solving situations arise, you’re there to take charge and command the proceedings.

9. Manage your guest list carefully.

Your guest list can cause unnecessary stress on the day of your event if it is not managed correctly. Make sure that all RSVPs and data are captured in one place; send out reminders to your guests before the event to ensure they remember the date, time and place; conduct call downs if you are unsure of an invitee’s details and make sure all on-the-day registration elements are set up timeously.

A great way to ensure your guest list is managed flawlessly from start to finish is to use the services of a professional RSVP Management agency, such as The RSVP Agency.

Without necessarily meaning to, guests can often make your job as RSVP coordinator difficult. In light of this we’ve compiled a list of 10 “Don’ts” that will guide you and help you to carry out the job admirably whatever situation arises.

1. Don’t assume anything. EVER.

Plan everything, confirm details, have contingencies, communicate thoroughly and often, and don’t leave anything to chance.

2. Don’t omit an onsite visit – you’re asking for trouble if you skip this step.

Sometime before the event make sure to go and scout out the site, planning and envisioning how every aspect of the occasion will play out.

3. Don’t print name tags on the day of the event.

Many event managers assume, incorrectly, that they’ll have all the time in the world to print name tags on the day of event and then lay them out. Always pre-print the majority of the name tags – it gives that extra time on the event day to print any additional name tags.

4. Don’t set up your RSVP station right in front of the door.

If there’s a complication or hassle of some sort, other guests are prevented from entering. You want to spread registration out around the room so as not to create bottle necks. This will be something you plan as part of your onsite scouting visit.

5. Don’t ever be late. Seriously. Never ever!!

6. Don’t be afraid to point out concerns to your customer.

There’s no point saying, after the fact, that the client didn’t request this or didn’t inform you they wanted that. If you see something that could be a problem, mention it to the client. You are there for proactive advice as well as following directions, and the more you communicate the less likely you are to have misunderstandings

7. Don’t avoid reporting on meetings and telephone conversations.

The details of all your interactions with the client and service providers need to be noted so you have a thorough account of everything. Don’t assume you’ll remember the details of all these interactions.

8. Don’t leave out planning for the unexpected.

It’s the nature of the event planning business for things to occasionally go awry. Have contingencies and know how to handle yourself and lead others under pressure.

9. Don’t handle conflict in the same area as your registration.

If somebody is not on the guest list, move them to a reserved table for this exact scenario to resolve the problem. . Again, when you visit the site before the event, that’s the time to decide on where this spot will be.

10. Don’t be afraid to stand your ground.

Many people try to intimidate those managing the RSVP process, but if you’ve planned well enough, you’ll know how to handle most situations and people.  If you follow the above guidelines we’re confident you’ll become a sucessful RSVP coordinator, organised, confident and able to manage an event of any size or demand!


From planning to execution, event management is cluttered with land-mines and it’s only the skillful event manager who’s able to navigate a safe path around them all. It can be helpful to identify the most common challenges so that you can be on the lookout for them. And it’s understanding the nature of the game that will help you sense the oncoming missiles that tend to come in below the radar…

The challenges facing event managers are numerous, from attracting attendees, to dealing with non-delivery, to liaising with non-communicative clients … there’s a great multiplicity of big and small decisions that all together determine the success or failure of an event. Here are a few of the most common challenges event managers face…

Invitees don’t RSVP and other registration woes

Guests are notoriously lax when it comes to RSVPing for an event; those that do RSVP ‘yes’ might not show up while those who didn’t send a formal RSVP could show up and expect to be included. The use of diplomacy is essential when chasing up on RSVPs. Strategic reminders and incentives, such as discounts or seating perks, can sometimes be usefully employed to encourage prompt replies.

At the end of the day however, event coordinators need to anticipate that numbers on the day of the event may well not match the numbers in your record, and so catering for a few additional guests is an essential. Software like The RSVP Agency’s online event registration solution is a helpful tool for managing this complex process, from the invitations, to RSVP reminders, call-downs and last-minute cancellations, The RSVP Agency’s online RSVP software ensures a strategic and professional approach when it comes to ensuring the best possible event attendance.

Knowing how to create a meaningful, fluid and engaging agenda

Event coordinators need to pitch an event to the given guest list and also plan content that meets the purpose of the event, whether that purpose is having a fun 50th birthday party or presenting the annual marketing plan to employees.

Tailoring events to the guest list involves setting the right start time of your event according to the lifestyle of your attendees, creating a menu that suits the general dietary preference, hiring a band that’s suitable for your particular audience , and other such considerations. It can get tricky however when ages are mixed, cultural tastes are diverse, and attendees might not know each other.

A seemingly ‘small’ detail in the overall scheme of things – something like the seating plan – can in fact mean the difference between guests genuinely enjoying themselves, or not at all.

With regards to the flow of an event, the event manager is responsible, together with his or her team, for ushering people and seeing that everyone is seated and looked after. It’s the event manager’s role to ensure that there are no awkward or boring pauses between scheduled items, keeping track of time, and seamlessly moving between items on the agenda so that the event flows correctly.

How to deliver a memorable event within budget

The good event coordinator is able to stay within budget while still meeting the expectations of the client. Sometimes this involves tactfully helping the client to refocus the event strategy or objectives. A Little Black Book of cost-saving venues and service-providers is also a good start; while finely tuned bargaining skills, and an extensive network will ensure your event is a memorable one within budget.

Remember to ask your client the right questions to find out what is most important to them about the event, and then creatively work around those goals to make them happen within budget. Communication with your client is crucial to a successful event.

Having to deal with the unexpected

Even with the most thorough of preparations, some things might still go wrong on the day and it’s the event manager’s role to ensure a solution for these unforeseen circumstances. A plan B for weather is a fundamental element of event planning. In Johannesburg, having a back up generator in case of a power outage is always a good idea. Extra seating, additional entertainment and a well thought out event itinerary can help you avoid unnecessary issues.

The most important factor is to remain calm and take charge in an unexpected situation, make sure you have a good relationship with all of your suppliers, and use all your resources in the planning of an event, such as The RSVP Agency’s professional online RSVP solution, to ensure that you are completely organised.


Event planning can be stressful, especially when there are so many factors to consider, from the venue to the theme. Of course, guests are the cornerstone of any successful event and managing and administrating a guest list can be one of the most time-consuming and stressful parts of organising any event.

The first contact that your invitee will have with your event is the invitation. This is your first opportunity to engage with them and the first and lasting impression you have of introducing your company and your brand. It doesn’t matter how fantastic your event is, if your invitation doesn’t make your invitees want to attend, you’ve already lost people’s attention. How you word your invitation, accept and decline forms and your Aide Memoire determines whether the person will attend your event and how quickly they reply. Worst case scenario? A badly worded or unprofessional invitation that could put your invited guests off completely.

When creating your invitation, think like the recipient of an invite. Decide what will most likely convince someone to attend and what information they’ll want to know before they commit. It’s all about creating the expectation. Then craft your invitation to reflect that.

First impressions count

The following points will help you create an invitation that is sure to make the right impression and set your event on the path to success…

  • Start with purpose: While look has become a key focus of invitation design, many invites fail to clearly state the purpose of the event. You need to let your guests know why you’re holding your event in the first place. Give them a reason to join you, whether it’s the event itself, the guest of honour, the speaker, prizes, or the cause.
  • Consider the medium: Paper invitations might be popular for personal parties but they can be difficult to manage when it comes to large corporate events. Electronic invites allow for wide distribution, including sharing on social networks, and tracking.
  • Set the tone: Your invitation should reflect the event’s theme and level of formality. For more formal events, a simple but elegant design with stylised typeset will work best while for more informal events, you can be more daring and creative in design, layout, and colour. If your event has a specific theme, make it stand out by drawing out an element of the theme in the invitation’s design, image, or wording.
  • Copy that: The same ‘tone rules’ go for the wording used on the invitation. Formal events require formal wording while more creative events give you the scope to include rhymes or riddles that reflect the theme and spirit of the event. Whatever the words used, don’t forget to include all the details – date, time, venue, dress code etc. Make sure that these details are displayed clearly to avoid any confusion.
  • RSVP highlights: RSVP details should include a clear call to action – you need to tell the reader how to respond. This is also a good opportunity to repeat the reason for your event.

Plan to follow up

Creating the invitation is just the first step. It’s important to plan ahead – invitations should go out 6–8 weeks before the event. You should also allow yourself time for invite design and to plan the guest list. Invite ‘etiquette’ also dictates that sending out the invitation is not the end of the process. RSVPs need to be carefully managed – this includes guests who have not responded and those that have responded with questions or special requests.

Little things like pre-populating your clients name on the accept form can change their perception of your company/brand. It’s a good idea to call guests who have responded positively to confirm their attendance and to follow up with those who have not responded just in case their response didn’t reach you.

Asking guests who have declined the invitation why they are declining, or offering to meet with them personally at another time goes a long way to building a client relationship. Just because your client cannot attend your event doesn’t mean they should not get a copy of the presentation for example, or get the thank you gift.

A helping hand

A spot-on invitation will help to ensure the success of your event. But it can be a time-consuming process that is also only one part of the overall event. As an organiser, you might want to focus your attention on the event itself, not chase after RSVPs.

Need a helping hand getting the invitation wording just right? Or handling the guest lists and RSVPs? The RSVP Agency’s Event Management Software will maximise the success of your event by managing your email invitations and event registration, ensuring the highest possible guest acceptance rate.

The RSVP Agency prides itself on professional RSVP Management. After all, the perfect event starts with the right guests!