Last Minute Tips to Save a Failing Event
We’ve all been there – the day of the event and things have gone from bad to worse. Even though you’re a badass event planner and have backup plans B, C, and D, there are simply some things that are almost impossible to anticipate. For those “is this really happening!?” moments, here are last minute tips to save a failing event.
1. Prep Work
Fail to plan? Plan to fail. There are NO successful events without an insanely focused plan of action. I’m talking the obsessive-compulsive planning of each and every detail. It’s not enough to secure a dope venue and fill it. The vitality of your event may rest upon how well you prepared for the unexpected.
2. Market, Market, Market!
Don’t stop talking about your event until the doors close. With the approach of an event, everything you post on social media is marketing material. Only. Post. About. Your. Event. Now is not the time to share your favorite DIY pin. Focus solely on marketing to your target audience.
3. Be a Chameleon
When you start to notice the unraveling of your event, it can feel as if you’re going it alone. When surviving the wild of Madagascar a Chameleon adapts to reflect its surroundings. You too may have to throw caution (and plans) to the wind and adjust. Remaining flexible with your expectations will be the key to resuscitate and save a failing event.
4. Think Like an Attendee
When finalizing last minute details of an event, it can be easy to be consumed with perfecting your checklist. Stepping outside of the planner role and into the shoes of an attendee is exactly the perspective you need–especially if something is going wrong. From a professional standpoint, you notice a technical problem, but an attendee is actually unhappy about the long queues. Tending directly and immediately to attendees needs can only be achieved if you are in-line with their experience of your event.
5. Don’t Panic!
Like the epic scene in Titanic, there may come a time when your event is halfway submerged and you have no idea how to stop the sinking ship–DON’T PANIC! The only thing that will result from you freaking out is leaking mascara. Rescuing a failing event will require your full attention and focus so that you can tap into your expertise. You’ve got this! (But even if you don’t) Never sweat in front of sponsors and guests.
6. Don’t Be the Last One to Know
While you shouldn’t panic when you discover an issue at your event, you should also not be the last one to realize something’s gone wrong. Amongst the chaos, be as present and aware as possible.
7. Expedite Ticketing Options
No people, no event. The last thing you want is to create any hurdles for your potential attendees when they are purchasing tickets. Use multiple channels to purchase tickets instead of driving all the traffic to one place. It takes on average 12 hours to repair a website or landing page. That’s too high a risk when you’re trying to fill seats.
8. Check Website for Leaks
Again, it’s hard to determine when a website will crash (and burn). Even if you trust your web host, have a team member on top of your site (event site, social media, and ticketing funneling sites) to make sure everything is working smoothly, inquiries are responded to, and all bases are covered. This is especially important in the days leading up to your event.
9. Have a Backup for Your Backup
Technology is a blessing and a curse. If running multiple tests on laptops, projectors, and sound isn’t enough and your event gets *record scratch* interrupted– keep a charged UPS in the back of your Event mobile to keep it rollin’.
10. Highlight What Works
Let’s face it, not all of our genius ideas (on paper) actually work for the event. Unfortunately, sometimes we learn this lesson the hard way. If a much-anticipated part of your event isn’t working out, focus on what IS. Spend your time and energy on the ideas that are playing out well for attendees and sponsors.
11. Drop the Dead Weight
On the flip side, whatever isn’t working (DJ sucks or presentation isn’t streaming) LET IT GO. Do what you can, when you can but don’t kick a dead horse. More people are likely to forget a slip-up the less attention you draw to it.
12. Cross Promote with Sponsors
Sponsors and promoters are as urgent as you are to get people in the doors. Don’t hesitate to nudge them along when things aren’t happening as they should.
13. Discounts for Bringing a Guest
If RSVP’s aren’t flying in at the speed you hoped, knock off 50% of an attendee’s plus one.
14….But Don’t Be Desperate
“Free” or “Discounted” has desperate written all over it and gives people the wrong impression. You need to fill seats, but don’t dismantle your entire event by cheapening it. You’ve worked hard to pull this together and you’ve even incentivized for guests, they’ll show.
15. If They Don’t Show
In the event you hear crickets, live stream (for a fee). Just because enough attendees haven’t shown up, YOU still have to. Gather your team and create a live stream on social media–YouNow, Facebook Live, and Instagram are accessible to most. Bring the energy to translate it through the screen.
16. Pay Your Door Staff Well
Your door staff has to do a lot more than one might think, monitoring the flow of ticketing, VIP entrance, and an influx of guests, just to name a few. Managing these kinds of lists requires great finesse. Your doorman has saved your ass more than you’ll ever know.
17. Don’t Under Staff
When it’s time to save a failing event your team and staff are crucial- make sure you have enough of them. Here are a few guidelines of how many people you should hire per guest. And please hire someone to maintain the bathrooms at an event, mystery smells are the worst.
18. Learn From Your Mistakes
If you remember anything, remember this- you’ll never forgive yourself for repeating a mistake at another event.
As Murphy’s Law would have it– everything that can go wrong will go wrong. From space to staff, to sweating your lashes off, these last-minute saves will take all you have inside of you but it’s ABSOLUTELY possible to save a failing event..