Some of the requests that corporate event planners receive can make us feel as if we’re entering The Twilight Zone. What is disturbing is the lack of a practical focus. Some client organizations appear to be particularly resistant to following the advice of professional event planners that are familiar with specific destinations. Instead, they seem to be interested in engaging firms that will work as order takers to implement their plans no matter how flawed. Even if they are considering an event in the wrong location, during the wrong season, with the wrong geography, and the wrong timeframe, some client organizations are not open to modifying their plans.

As the recession deepens, this seems to be increasing. It will become easier for prospective clients to find your competitors that are hungry enough for business to deliver exactly what they request. As an event planner who is interested in growing their business, it can be a challenge to walk that fine line between pleasing your client and giving them your best professional advice.

Here are 5 wrong moves to avoid no matter how much pressure you are facing from clients or prospective clients.

  1. Wrong Location
    When planning an event, transition times and traffic patterns have to be taken into account. No group will thank you if they end up stuck in gridlock or stuck on a highway because predictable inclement weather has caused a 30 or, heaven forbid, 200 car pileups. It’s much better to encourage clients to plan their arrival and movements for low traffic periods. It’s also a good idea, to split the itinerary between hotels in different areas to give the group more comfortable access to certain attractions and activities.
  2. Wrong Season
    Do some initial checking to determine if the requested activities are appropriate for the season in which your client will be having their event. Make sure that you give them a realistic picture of what is and isn’t doable in certain locations at specific times of the year. Never compromise group safety just to please a client. You could be held liable if someone suffers illness or injury.
  3. Wrong Geography
    Make sure that you give your clients solid advice and point out things they may have missed. It is important for you to have the integrity to advise clients that their preferred activity is a poor fit for the season or location and encourage them to either change the activity or change the date of their event.
  4. Wrong Timeframe
    This is such a regular occurrence that examples are probably not needed. Suffice it to say that many organizations insist on subjecting employees to wall-to-wall speakers well into the afternoon. Then, they try to cram team activities into a short timeframe when everyone is exhausted. No amount of input from the event planner or facilitator will get them to modify their plans.
    When groups feel rushed and pressured and they are too tired to enjoy the event, this will reflect poorly on you as the event planner. To avoid making a wrong move, encourage your clients to either cut content or increase the length of their conference or program to realistically incorporate all desired activities. They may end up spending a little bit more money but you’ll end up with attendees who are pleased instead of frustrated and resentful.
  5. Wrong Budget
    A regular occurrence in the event planning industry is awarding business to firms that low ball their quotes. This usually happens because their budget is just too low.
    It’s time for a reality check. As a general rule of thumb to give your clients, let them know that the smaller their group, the higher the price per person they should expect to pay. If a group is small, they should not be expecting to pay any where near under $100 per person.
    Let your prospective clients know that, when their budget is unrealistic, they are setting themselves up for something similar to the bait and switch technique used in retail. It gets played out in 1 of 2 ways:

    • corners are cut and the event is watered down significantly (e.g. a scavenger hunt is provided when an Amazing Race was booked).
    • once planning is well underway “unforeseen items” that jack up the budget are identified and it’s too late to switch event planners.

    At the end of the day, when the event doesn’t work well and they’ll be the ones who will be embarrassed every time they have to face their co-workers

Event Planning: Let’s Get Real
Especially in this economy, there will always be competitors that will take a company’s money and give them exactly what they ask for…. even if it isn’t realistic or practical. It’s great for a client to have ideas and a vision for their event but a reality check from you, an event planning professional that knows your destination, is vital.

How can you avoid the embarrassment of a poorly executed event?

How can you greatly reduce the likelihood that you will be “ripped off”?

You’ll greatly increase the likelihood of planning a successful event if you don’t automatically cave into pressure and tell clients and prospects exactly you want they want to hear. With your next event, keep these 5 wrong moves in mind. Take the time to identify pitfalls and raise a flag of caution when they are considering options that are not advisable. Then, really encourage them to consider taking the advice for which they are

(Social Coup LLC)