Have you ever experienced an event disaster?

This entry was posted by on Sunday, 29 June, 2014 at

Event DisasterYou know those events when it’s really a case of Murphy’s Law? Whatever can go wrong will go wrong. It’s a total event disaster.

Recently I had my first. I’ve had some major mess ups during events, all the allocated seating mixed up for a very high profile speaker comes to mind. But none where nothing went smoothly. Really, I mean nothing.

Let’s look at what I learned.

The Do’s of an Event Disaster

  • Do order swag, etc at least two weeks in advance. It was only a three hour drive away, but eight days wasn’t enough for USPS express delivery.
  • Do promote the bleep out of the event. I was a little timid directly inviting my AMA colleagues and former workmates. Next time I won’t be.
  • Do reschedule if Hillary Clinton and the North West Internet Advertising Group announce last minute events that clash. The NWIAG gets a couple of hundred marketers with the lure of free alcohol. It’s not a model I like, but it’s very popular in Seattle. OK, so the chance of this happening again is nearly 0%, but I’m not risking it.
  • Do check out the venue at the time you want to run the event. I’ve attended events on Tuesday nights there. Wednesday is trivia competition night and the audio is piped ALL through the venue.
  • Do tour EVERY room the venue has. We checked most, but were allocated a different one. It was next to the entrance – great – there was no barrier/door – not so great.
  • Do have a great draw. This was an easy networking happy hour, so we weren’t offering anything to counter the competition.

The Don’ts of an Event Disaster

  • Don’t assume that if someone registers they will attend. Generally most will, but especially with free events, if they get a better offer, you won’t see them. See: NWIAG.
  • Don’t assume a part description on Amazon is correct. Or maybe do order the VGA adaptor for your laptop early, so you can get a replacement if it doesn’t fit.
  • Don’t assume that because the venue has built in AV that they know how to use it, or the cables are long enough. It was only a promo loop, but we couldn’t use it.

It would be hard for another event to bomb as heavily as this one did, but please learn from my “experience”. It’s not fun to have an event disaster.

Note: you’ve probably assumed this photo is not from “that” event. It’s from a PSAMA Speed Networking event, that was not a disaster.

Bianca Smith (177 Posts)

Bianca is a freelance digital marketer in Seattle. She works with clients big and small, in the US and Australia, on digital marketing, branding, event communications, social media and website content.


2 Responses to “Have you ever experienced an event disaster?”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Bianca! I’m sorry it all had to happen on one event, but I love your positive attitude. It’s very admirable. Please let me know in advance if there’s anything I could do in the future to help make sure your next event is a successful one.

    Thank you again for all that you do.

    Stephanie Wiriahardja,
    Hootsuite Global Ambassador Lead

    • Bianca Smith

      Thanks, Stephanie. Planning has already started for the next one.


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