The top three mistakes event planners make (and how to avoid them)

Dropping the ball is part of being human. After all, if we never mess up, how are we supposed to learn? Even the most seasoned event planners make mistakes (they’re human after all). We’ve put some thought into what some of the most common mistakes are that event planners make  – rookie or veteran – and hope that by sharing these with you, you’ll be equipped with the know-how to help you dodge these all too frequent ‘’Oops, I did it again” moments.

  1. 1.  Overpromising on deliverables

Ever had a client who’s so excited about their upcoming event that their energy is contagious? It’s easy to get caught up in the anticipatory mood of a client whose ideas are big, bold and boundary-breaking. Which makes it very difficult to say that two letter word they don’t want to hear: “No”.

Instead of thinking you’ll put your client off, think of setting boundaries as to what’s possible within a certain timeframe and with a set budget as tough love

If you tell your client that their vision of dancing flamingos accompanied by the Drakensberg Boys Choir and pyrotechnics that would put Disneyworld to shame, you’ll only end up disappointing them (not to mention, losing their business). Be clear on what’s doable, and what’s not. Being aware of your skill set, and that of your team and vendors play a big part in ascertaining what you can deliver – so make sure that you’re honest with yourself, and your clients about what you’re able to deliver.

  1. 2. Ignoring the importance of nurturing a relationship with the client

Your clients are your bread and butter, which means that if you want to succeed as an event planner, you need to do everything you can to build authentic relationships with them. This may seem intimidating, which is where the mantra “Fake it till you make it” comes in handy. (We’re not suggesting that you lies about capabilities, credentials, or anything for that matter.) Being confident when working with influential brands and companies can be intimidating – but if you shy away from finding out who the people are behind the job specs, you’ll be able to not only provide them with an event that’s in line with their expectations, but enjoy having their repeat business.

As we said before, success in an arena boils down to the quality of the relationships you have. Sincere, genuine relationships are a scarce commodity; investing time and effort in your clients is without a doubt, one of the smartest things event planners can do to build their reputation.

  1. 3. Failure to prepare for any and all eventualities

Oh boy. It’s for good reason that the saying “Failing to plan, is planning to fail” is bandied about our office so frequently. Juggling multiple clients and the myriad tasks that go with them is only possible with a plan. Know your plan. Then work your plan. It’s easy to get lost in the thousand and one projects you have to do on any given day, but failing to plan ahead for any and every “what if” should be at the top of your to-do list. Event planners need to be able to predict the “what ifs”, and then have a plan at the ready should something go awry. Your “what ifs” will differ with each event – an EXCO dinner held outdoors in the (dry) bushveld teems with several potential disasters (ahem, FIRE), compared to a product launch of a new alcohol brand that’s open to the public (inebriation). You get the gist. The good news is that the more experience event planners have in tackling last-minute hiccups, the easier it gets the next time around.

Get our free eBook, “The Practical Guide to Professional RSVP” and learn more about what separates mediocre event planners, from exceptional event planners.

Image credit: