Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Party Planning Potholes - 6 Event Planning Mistakes to Avoid

By Marley Majcher

Mistakes are a part of life. I hate making them; we all do, but they happen. With over 16 years in business, I have seen my share of mistakes, some that I have made, and some my party planning colleagues have. The best of us make them, but they should be infrequent. The key is to learn from them as you go. But those that can be avoided should be! The common event planning mistakes I bring up below will hopefully allow you to not step into these proverbial potholes.

The Tips!

1. Cursory site/venue check. I can't tell you how much time I spend checking a venue for a client. I don't care if it's for a birthday blowout or a small corporate meeting. Inspecting the main room where the function will be taking place is only one aspect of a venue check. I also make sure to note what outlets are available for audio/visual, the valet parking area, the kitchen and the restrooms (why not? If they are not taken care of, guests will notice, and it will cast a shadow over the event). It is also imperative to note if there is a place where smokers can congregate. Whether or not you smoke doesn't matter. What matters is the comfort of your clients and their guests. I have heard too many horror stories where the site selected looked great, but failure to check for necessities in addition to the "pretty things" added up to a nightmare for the planner involved.

2. Communication, communication, communication. Having all the event information in your head is fine if you are not working with anyone else, but seriously, how often do you put on an event by yourself? Even if you don't have employees, you will have vendors that you will be working with, and you must communicate with them frequently. In addition to vendors, you also have a client that needs to know all the pertinent details about how the event will proceed. I know that we all want to look like Super Woman and Super Man, but at some point, this will absolutely backfire. It is an absolute must to bring everyone that is part of the event up to speed on everything that they need to know in order to make their tasks seamless. Treat each person as a stock broker, each having their own portfolio that they are in charge of. If they are not given the appropriate financial information, your personal portfolio can lose all its value. Why take a chance?

3. Double checking, triple checking and then some. Don't leave anything to chance. Why drive yourself crazy? I have checklists for eight weeks out, four weeks out, two weeks out...you get the picture. The week of any party I produce, I check in with the venue and do another walk through. I call all my vendors and powwow with them. I go through the menus, and I talk to my client almost every day to make sure there aren't any last minute changes. And of course, changes occur, so why gamble on your reputation? Double check the details. We all know the odds in Vegas are not in our favor, so do as much as you can to limit any missteps.

4. It's all in the fine print. When looking over contracts, no matter whom they are from and no matter if I worked with them 20 times in the past, I ALWAYS go over the entire contract, line by line. Yes, it is time consuming, yes, most contracts are standard, BUT there could be a line or three that puts you at a significant disadvantage. I even break out my magnifying glass to read some of the fine print. If you don't understand something, ask questions. If you don't agree with something, try having it removed from the contract, or walk away. Don't put yourself in line for legal troubles that will cost you more than the one hour it takes to thoroughly review a contract. There have been many times where I have successfully lobbied to take out clauses that were just plain awful and could have potentially hurt me in the end.

5. Vetting the entertainment. When hiring speakers, clowns, singers and DJs, I don't care who it is, I always try to get a referral from a trusted source. But, I do not just stop there. I meet everyone (if feasible) before I put them in front of my client. I want to get an idea of who they are and what their true abilities are. If I can't grab a meeting with them because of logistical issues, I make sure to see them on video, whether it is on a YouTube video or their personal promotional video. As I wrote above, I don't want to leave anything to chance. Imagine the horror if "Rex the Tyrannosaurus Rex" showed up at your children's party when "Bozo the Happy Clown" was expected! Since the entertainment is so important as is a key note speaker, it is imperative that you have a high comfort level that promises made are promises kept.

6. Sticking to your event timeline. You are the producer of an event. You are the leader of troops. You keep morale up and things run smoothly. You are also the warden of the clock. You have, no doubt, set time marks that you want to hit to keep the party going. If you are producing a wedding, for example, you will have a timeline for wedding photos, first dance, band breaks, dessert, etc. A timeline is needed for every party/event you do. Just hoping that the party will start at 1pm and end at 5pm as the invites say is wishful thinking. This can be especially true when alcohol is involved. Imagine if your late afternoon engagement party, featuring cocktails and hors d'oeuvres dragged on and guests started getting hungry for dinner? You need to be there with one eye on the clock and the other on the client to make sure food is rolling, entertainment is happening, drinks are being poured, key note speeches are delivered when they're supposed to and wait staff are not taking their 15 minute breaks at the wrong time.

Marley Majcher is the CEO of The Party Goddess!, a nationally acclaimed full service event planning and catering company and is a regular on-air contributor to national TV shows, discussing all things lifestyle and entertaining. With her continuing desire to be on the leading edge of gastronomy and design for her company and clients, Majcher has blanched, flambeed and fricasseed her way through the Smithsonian Institution's culinary series and cooking schools in both Paris and Normandy. She is constantly seeking out cool and creative individuals with style and personality to work with and attends premier design exhibitions whenever she can. Majcher currently spends any free time she might have, usually between 10:45 pm and 11:15 pm on Tuesdays planning her own annual blowout party every November.

Take a look at the company's website at www.thepartygoddess.com to see what The Party Goddess! does for clients and get some great ideas for your next party or event. 

If you are thinking of becoming a party or event planner or just want to learn more about it, go to www.howtobeapartygoddess.com. Here you will learn what it takes to be a rockin' party planner and how to start a new and profitable business. 

Please contact Marley at info@thepartygoddess.com.

{Source; Photo Credit}

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