We are tying a bow around the final day of our 2015 Ungerboeck Software Global Conference today; which means that the halls of the Hyatt Regency in St. Louis, MO are filled with event coordinators, managers, and other event professionals from some of the largest venues, conferences, and exhibitions in the world. Throughout the event, I had the chance to catch up with dozens of event professionals. One of the unique phrases that I heard over and over again was, "My biggest fear is..." when referencing challenges, stresses, or difficulties they faced on the job. This got me thinking, what are the greatest fears of event coordinators and other event professionals, and how do they deal with them?
3 Greatest Fears of Event Coordinators
There are a lot of challenges for event coordinators and other event professionals to account for. In fact, the title of event coordinator is typically listed as one of the top 5 most stressful jobs in the world. To summarize all of those challenges into 3 primary topics wouldn't be doing the position justice; however, after speaking with 20-30 different professionals, several major concerns kept surfacing over and over again.
Below are the fears that were expressed by some of those professionals, and the advice they offered to mitigate those risks.
1.) "I'm scared that the people I depend on will fail me."
As pessimistic as this may sound, event professionals understand how symbiotic many of the relationships are with event stakeholders. Planners, caterers, network administrators, facility managers, event services, and many other parties all play a huge role in event execution. Many of these roles are outside of the control of the event planning professional. This makes trust and communication critical between these parties.
One of the stories I heard this week was about a large performing arts event that was launched without a hitch. Everything was properly planned and accounted for, except for one small detail. The show revolved around an expert pianist, and the venue's piano tuner got his wires crossed and never showed up to tune the piano before the event. If you've ever heard an out of tune piano, you know exactly how big of a deal this can be. Ultimately, the venue was able to source a last minute piano tuner to make the save, and the show went on to be a success.
Unfortunately, while the show was a major success, many don't see the stress and financial impacts these kinds of issues can cause event planners and event venues. These entities depend on so many other parties to pull off a successful event. If even one ball is dropped it can create a disastrous domino effect.
The event coordinators solution: This was a common issue that just about everyone I spoke to experienced on a daily basis. A lot of the advice they gave regarding how to mitigate this risk was closely related to creating open communication and follow-up schedules for important items. Everyone I spoke with had a different system for this, but most of them used a combination of e-mails lists, schedules, and Ungerboeck software features to keep everything straight. They stressed the importance of electronic documentation and having a single source of information (rather than a lot of disconnected spreadsheets and physical documents).
2.) "I worry about new staff, turnover, and what happens to stuff when it gets passed on..."
Many event professionals are dependent on part-time or entry level resources which can lead to high turnover rates. This means that these resources often receive less than comprehensive training. Not only that, but when training is provided it is often performed by someone who was trained by a trainee themselves. This means best practices are often overlooked, and that these individuals will adopt self-designed processes to cope with challenges. This can lead to things falling through the cracks, and eventually total process breakdown.
These one-off individual processes that are developed out of this kind of scenario lead to confusion around specific items for each individual event. This means that not everyone is always clear on who has what action items, and what outstanding work is waiting to be performed. This causes hectic last minute scrambles that stress out event coordinators and cost venues money.
Every time that an event coordinator has to wonder if something they pass off is actually going to be completed or taken care of they add a small load of stress to an already stressful position. Many of the people I spoke with referenced problems related to this issue as their number one point of stress. Many lost sleep over the responsibility of worrying about whether or not something would get done, while others emphasized the stressful scrambles that occurred when ultimately a ball was dropped. One woman even had to miss her child's birthday party because of one of these last minute ordeals.
The event coordinators solution: To deal with this issue many event coordinators re-emphasized the need for electronic documentation and a single source of accuracy that everyone could access. One of the professionals went as far to say that their number one priority with new hires was the adoption of technology and internal processes. They firmly believed that a new employee would do more harm than good if they did not properly operate within best practices upon their arrival. Another professional with over 17 years of experienced echoed those thoughts and added that they believed that teaching people the value of constant communication between stakeholders would go a long way towards mitigating future risk. They followed up by saying, "not everything works the way it's supposed to. That's the real world. But, if everyone knows how to maintain communication, they can prevent a major disaster".
3.) " I'm worried that people will show up to an event and the doors will be locked and know one will know about it."
This was just about everyone's nightmare scenario. A theoretical event where so many balls were dropped that none of the operations or event planning staff had set up the event, nor was anyone on hand to even open the doors or turn on the lights.
A lot of this fear stemmed from a general distrust of sales professionals. There was a collective concern that sales professionals would book an event days before it was supposed to take place, and forget to pass it along properly to all the event coordinators, planners, and operations stakeholder. One of the professionals I spoke with added, "It's not the sales persons fault. They've never worked in operations, they don't understand what's critical, but it's that fundamental disconnect that keeps me up at night".
The event coordinators solution: The responses were really mostly a summarization of the solutions to the other above problems listed above with one additional caveat. Since all the respondents happen to be Ungerboeck CRM customers (they were all at our conference for a reason), they all emphasized the importance of the sales team utilizing the software and established best practices as cornerstones to mitigating this risk.
As mentioned above, there are many other challenges and stresses associated with being an event professional; however, this rare insight provides a great look at some of the common challenges and solutions. For additional information around how you can mitigate event risk check out our blog, or contact one of the professionals at Ungerboeck to learn about how our software and industry understanding of best practices can help.