Events can be a lot of work with many moving parts, but it’s worth it when everything goes smoothly. But what if things go wrong?
Have you ever been to a poorly planned event that seemed like the entire production team was like zombies? Or had a speaker who turned out to be a total fraud? The quickest way to ruin your event is by not planning for every possible contingency.
In this blog, we’ll go over seven examples of events gone wrong and what you could do to prevent it from happening again. We burrowed these stories from Eventbrite.
Seven Examples of Events Gone Wrong With Lessons
1. Always be prepared with a Plan B
George Taylor was organizing a fashion show in London. He had an agreement with Wowcher to sell 400 tickets at a discounted rate. The event would have run two days in a row.
It took him months to organize and find the perfect venue. He hired five fashion designers, ten models, and lots of other things arranged. The day before the event went on sale, the site decided to cancel. He had to call Wowcher and call the whole thing off as he’d missed the deadline and wasn’t able to find a venue in time.
Two months later, George found the perfect venue by accident and decided to organize a different fashion event.
It worked out even better than the first round as he teamed up with an international fashion company, Fashion United. And had celebrity Noelle Reno speak at his event, and people travel worldwide!
Lesson: Have a backup plan. You don’t know what might happen in the event – the venue might cancel, rain might start to pour, food might not be enough. So always prepare for the worst thing that could happen in your event. Sure it might not occur on all of your occasions, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Be proactive, not reactive.
2. Vague Messaging Didn’t Bring in Tons of People
Liz took on organizing an event with two large corporates, even on a tight schedule.
The event was about cybersecurity and hacking. But it had a wordy and vague title that leaves everyone confused. It was Liz’s task to market it, and the corporates did everything else.
They provided a 200-person space. They also ordered drinks & snacks and put together an outstanding presentation. When the event finally turned up, only 18 people showed up. Liz admitted that it was her mistake that not a lot of people showed up.
“It was my nightmare sitting there watching these presentations in a sea of empty chairs,” said Liz.
She realized quality content and a great event aren’t enough to drive people to attend.
“How are people supposed to know it’s great before they show up?! Now I always put as much effort into the marketing, messaging, and communication as the logistics, so the organizers get the audience they deserve.”, Liz further added.
Her advice is, “If you don’t have enough time to market your event properly, rethink whether you should run it at all.”
Lesson: When spreading the word about your event, ensure that the messaging is clear and concise. Grade 6 level students should be able to understand it. The Hemingway App can help you identify hard-to-read words so you can fix and make them simpler.
3. Always Recheck Vital Information
Scarlett, the founder of www.scarlettlondon.com, hosted her first-ever large-scale event. It was within a branch of a chain of bars in Central London.
She arrived at the venue with a car full of goody bags. But unfortunately, it was locked. She called the head office, who informed her that she didn’t have a booking there. The head office also told her that her event was booked in another of their branches – across the other side of London.
Scarlett quickly made her way to the new venue while frantically emailing, texting, and tweeting about the ‘venue change.’
Afterward, she had the opportunity to double-check the booking details with the PR – a small print email in a long chain of correspondence. They had been talking about the ‘original’ venue, but they both hadn’t noticed the mistake of the booking.
Scarlett learned a tough lesson. She now reads every email three times to confirm she has the correct information.
Lesson: Always double or triple-check the crucial info about your event. Rechecking doesn’t hurt. It only takes a few moments of your time, but an event disaster will hurt you very awfully. Then again, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
4. Success Comes With a Misfortune
Maricar didn’t know how to cope with the extra demand the first time they sold out an event.
She thought, “Hey, all the seats are filled; we are happy!” then more people turned up at the event, and it was so hard to fit everybody in. People got very upset when they knew the event had no more seats. They vent their frustration on our staff and each other. It had gotten worse when more and more people showed up.
Lesson: You have to anticipate disaster – even if your event has experienced a lot of success. You also want to track the number of attendees coming in. Lastly, let them know if you’re facing a problem. People will appreciate and thank you for your transparency.
5. Don’t Let Unwanted Guests Come in
Let us share a story from Katie McPhee from Eventbrite, who experienced an event disaster that could have been easily prevented.
“I recently held a networking/talks event for the digital community.
As it was a community event – no sponsors and free entry – all elements were provided gratis, and we decided we’d probably be ok not to have someone on the door after the talks were underway.
As one of our high-profile speakers took to the stage, I was alerted that someone who’d been begging outside had run in. He’d locked himself in the toilet where a queue was rapidly forming and was refusing to leave – saying he was experiencing ‘issues.’
Luckily the building manager was on hand to direct guests to an upstairs bathroom while negotiating with the person refusing to leave; he eventually opened the door from the outside and escorted him from the building.”
Lesson: Invest in security personnel in your event – even if it’s free. You don’t want an unwanted guest to get in and ruin your event. You’ll thank yourself for doing so.
6. Keeping your Cool Even Under Pressure
Here’s another story from Julie Austin, who learned an important lesson in keeping her head cool in pressuring situations.
“One of the first events I put on was an entertainment job fair. I had several employers who were supposed to show up, and I was going to do a 30-minute speech beforehand.
As I got ready to speak to about 80 people, my assistant came over and told me that no one had shown up yet. So I gave him my phone book from my many years in the entertainment business and told him to start making calls to anyone who had an office within a 30-minute radius and had any kind of job opening.
It was not an easy task, so I told him to promise everyone a nice dinner for two at their favorite restaurant if they would show up. The good news is that all of the employers eventually did show up, along with several others. So the jobseekers were very happy, and many of them got jobs out of it.
Lesson: It’s essential to be calm even under extreme pressure. Keeping calm has been proven to make us think clearer and more logically. Our emotions can hamper our thinking and decision-making. Do your best to set your emotions aside when dealing with critical situations. Try not to think that the event will be ruined and instead focus on the present moment. Think of a solution that you can do now to prevent future mishaps from happening.
7. Bad Weather = Bad Party
The unpredictable weather can certainly ruin the whole party. Here’s a story from Andrew Reeves, who learned a valuable lesson in considering the weather before planning for the event.
“One time, we had a convention for translators and interpreters. We were expecting about 500 people, and everything appeared to be going perfectly until I heard the weather forecast the day before the event.
I found out that the next day it would be raining. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except the venue was open-roof. When we asked the venue director to switch us to an enclosed space, he informed us that they had none available.
We ended up calling around, and, fortunately, we were able to find a venue down the block which had immediate availability. We called all guests and emailed the ones who didn’t pick up, informing them of the venue change.
On the day of the event, we also paid someone to stand at the original venue, holding a sign. Fortunately, my lawyer was competent, and because of the contract that he wrote for us, we were responsible for only 50% of venue costs. The other 50% was excused due to unforeseen circumstances.”
Lesson: When your event is in an open field, always take into account the weather. Check the weather forecast a week and days before your event. And always have a backup venue in case the unforeseeable happens.
Gender Reveal Balloon Popping Gone Wrong
Having a new born baby is such a wonderful gift to couples. And nothing beats a gender reveal celebration to top it all off! But not all things go perfectly as planned because these couples had their gender reveal event went wrong.
The couple had the gender of their future baby inside a huge balloon. And they tried to pop the balloon using a wooden stick by beating it. They had zero success popping the balloon and it flew away. The funny part was the man jumped over the fence to chase the balloon but he failed and hurt himself. This triggered to many reactions online to as why they’re trying to pop the balloon using sticks instead of sharp objects.
Watch the video here:
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Events can be a lot of work with many moving parts, but it’s worth it when everything goes smoothly. But what if things go wrong? Planning for your next event is time-consuming and stressful – especially when you’re juggling other priorities on top of that.
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