Organizing events can be an extremely stressful affair, battling ever-changing guest lists, ludicrous dietary requirements, and mind-boggling technical fails. You are essentially the Lara Croft of event management.
But when you are at the point of breaking and feel like booking a one-way flight to anywhere with a cocktail bar, remember that you are not alone in this fight! There are millions of event organizers worldwide, and they all have had their fair share of disasters.
I have gathered some of those event disasters from friends in the events industry, in the hope to derive some comic relief from their pain! Hey, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. Enjoy!
“Having an industrial saw in the foyer of the event, sawdust falling into wine glasses, whilst the tiered seating is being removed, and the bar not being filled, or stocked, is not ideal when your awards show begins in 5 hours!
In those situations, all you can do is take a breath and get on with it! It means you are on the verge of a heart attack the entire day, but by the time your guests arrive, they are none the wiser!…Did I mention that the compere walked off in the middle of the presentation”
“At a pop up venue we were using for a business seminar last year, the guy in the flat above left his water running in the bath, shorting all the electrics in the venue, and soaking the patrons. The rest of the seminars were saved (apart from all the rest of the speakers having to rely on their wits as opposed to their numerous power point slides”
“In a previous role I organised cultural workshops and festivals, everything was finalised and the bookings were rolling in. A disaster in the proper sense struck when the Icelandic volcano erupted and the ash cloud grounded a lot of flights. We had organised for speakers and artists from the USA and across Europe to visit Belfast and be a part of our festival- it was a gut wrenching when the flights were cancelled or delayed.”
“In situations like that there isn’t much of a plan B available to an event organiser. I had emails and some phone numbers of participants and took each day as it came, I would contact attendees 2-3 days in advance to make them aware that the event may be cancelled. The volcanic ash was so well covered in the media our guests were very understanding. I could only apologise and offer refunds for cancelled events but some flights got through and we had included some really good local talent in the programme too. That was a LONG 2 weeks and sometimes when I’m really stressed I still dream about ash clouds!”
“Last year we put a lot of work into organising a big outdoor event in June. It was going to be huge! Unfortunately the weather was not in our favour and it poured with rain from start to finish. We did have free ponchos ready to give out but looking out at the rain did stop a lot of people coming along. It was still a good event but a little bit of sunshine would have made a real difference. Lesson: You can’t control the weather!”
“One year, at an annual awards show I organise, we had to relocate from our usual venue due to building structure problems. We had to resend all invites, 1 week before the event, with the new venue, calling those who didn’t respond to the email, just to be safe. As if that wasn’t bad enough, on the actual night, despite having a VIP speaker (who cost a fortune) , thanks to a dodgy sound system, the only sound our 300 guests could hear was the cackles of a rowdy table in the corner who had drank too much champagne! No amounts of shhh and threats of removal would keep them quiet. The speaker was furious, I was so embarrassed and I wanted the ground to swallow me up!”
Do you have an event disaster you want to share? Get it off your chest, and give us a laugh!