Every event planner needs to be an expert multi-tasker because there are a million and one details that have to be handled on the event day. Dropping even one ball can be disastrous. We all have our own preferred event management tools and methods to organize our event plan and keep track of every detail. But do you have a coordinated set of actions that you take to manage your onsite logistics?
By logistics, we mean the management of the flow of people and all technology, tools, and physical resources during an event as well as management of the timing of the agenda. Even with the latest tech tool or the most extensive checklist, there are certain things you should always do so that you can stay focused on your guests and not on logistical details. Here are five tips to build your logistics action plan.
Clear Chain of Command
Write concise job descriptions for every onsite staff member and volunteer assisting you on the event day. Make sure that each job description includes a list of expected duties, any qualifications that are required, and who this staff member reports to. For management positions, including details on any problem-solving parameters or necessary limitations to duties. Assign key people to be the dedicated point of contact in specific areas such as food service or registration. These people should be empowered to handle issues as they arise. For more tips on writing a job description, click here.
As staff is hired, create and distribute a team list with cell phone numbers so that contact during event day is easy and quick. If your staff is large, create and distribute an organizational chart so that everyone is clear as to who is in charge of each team and department.
By ensuring a clear chain of command, you can feel certain that if issues arise during event day, your staff know what to do and can handle the situation without delay or creating chaos and hopefully without you even needing to be involved.
Host a Team Kickoff
Once your team is hired, bring them all together for a team kickoff meeting at the event venue. This best practice is an opportunity for the team to get to know each other and for you to get to know them. Take this time to encourage and empower your team to handle situations and make decisions that are beneficial for your guests. Use role-playing and round table discussions to work through possible customer service issues or concerns that may arise. Walkthrough the venue so that all team members are familiar with the planned event flow and understand their work environment. Ask each team member for feedback on the plan and take any suggestions or concerns they may have into consideration for your final event flow plan. This meeting will create a sense of unity so that your staff will feel they can lean on each other and you during the event.
Test all Tools and Equipment
Make a plan to hold a “soft opening” once your event is set up but before you open for business. Bring your core staff into work as if the event was happening and ask other staff members to pose as guests. Go through the registration and check-in process to test for malfunctions, bugs, or delays in your system. Test every printer, every phone line, and every Wi-Fi connection. Also, make sure that your staff tests the audio-visual equipment in every room. While they are at it, have them check the set-up of each room for accuracy. Test heaters or cooling misters for outside events. Look for broken furniture, trip hazards, and empty amenities. Don’t rely on your venue to do this for you. The sooner you know about potential problems, the quicker you can solve them.
Have Back-up Plans
It’s always smart to have a Plan B, C and D. You may not need always need them, but when you do, you most likely will not have much time to find a solution. Have one ready to go
This is part of any event manager’s risk management plan. Try to think through the “what ifs” that might happen during an event and how you could react in a way that would minimize a negative impact on attendees or your bottom line. What would you do if the venue Wi-Fi doesn’t work? What would you do if a speaker doesn’t show?
Think about your experiences from past events to anticipate potential issues and to build your arsenal of resolutions. What have you done in the past when problems occurred? What should you have done? Write these back-up plans down in an “if-then” grid so that you and your staff can take action quickly.
Most importantly, don’t let the stress of handling logistical problems and customer service issues stress you out. Events should be fun, even for the organizer. Do the best you can to be organized and ready and then just relax. You’ve set the stage for a great day. Enjoy it.
If you need a handy checklist for event planning or logistics, check our Resource Center.