Planning a corporate event? Experts share their advice on what not to do

Event Planning
3 min read

Your keynote speaker has failed to turn up, the Virtual Reality set doesn’t work and the drinks have run out. Expect the unexpected when you’re hosting an event. One simple mistake can turn into a disaster when you least expect it to. Little wonder then, that event planning ranks consistently as one of the world’s most stressful jobs.

The good news is that many disasters can be avoided easily, with some planning. Raylene de Wet, Director of Event Sales at Hyatt Regency Johannesburg, shares her five tips on what not to do if you want your corporate event to be a success.

  1. Oops… who could have foreseen the long bottlenecks?

Half an hour wait for your conference badge? A long queue for that cup of tea during a break? Another queue to enter the conference room?

Ignoring the possibility of bottlenecks can negatively impact your event. Let’s face it: nobody likes to wait in line and your attendees are no exception.

Although it’s impossible to eliminate queues and bottlenecks altogether, de Wet explains there are some tips and tricks to minimise this inconvenience. “Consider using technology to speed up the check-in process.” She adds: “Make sure the team at your chosen venue understands foot traffic during food sessions. They will rearrange where the tables or coffee is set up to accommodate busy areas.”

  • Make regular, steady progress

If time flies when you’re having fun, it moves at supersonic speed when you’re organising an event.

Procrastination is your worst enemy when planning an event, says de Wet. “It’s important to start the event planning process early. Leaving things too late is the most common mistake event planners make.  As soon as you have agreed upon date, get to work. Choose and book your venue, confirm your speakers, and draw up contracts.”

  • Be trendy with your vegetarian options

The rule of thumb to balance the ratio of vegetarian to meat options on your menu is to include one-third vegetarian options in your menu.

Today’s food trends are all about healthy and fresh offerings, says de Wet. By including vegetarian options, you’ll make everyone happy. What’s more, you’ll have the opportunity to experiment with fresh, seasonal produce and really embrace unique flavour combinations.

“Remember that food is not just about keeping your attendees fed,” warns de Wet.  “It’s about creating unforgettable experiences.”

  • The latest tech is just for nerds

You don’t need the latest tech gadgets to make your event seamless, but reliable technology can make or break an event. “Tech fails to happen. The key to minimising these mishaps, is to be prepared,” says de Wet. “Make sure you run through the preliminary checks before the start of the event. If something does go wrong, be transparent and inform your attendees that you are having technical difficulties.”

De Wet explains that dismissing technological innovations out of hand could prove to be a mistake. “Hashtags, for example, used to be a bit of a trendy fad five years ago, but today hashtags are a powerful communication tool,” she explains.

  • Help! Everything is going wrong!

Did your keynote speakerphone you on the morning of the conference to say he has the sniffles and can’t get out of bed? Or is an unexpected storm putting a damper on your outdoor event?  Last-minute changes and event-day disasters are unfortunately not uncommon when organising an event. Not having a plan B or, for that matter, a plan C, is a rookie mistake.

“Take time to think of anything that could go wrong with every aspect of your event and get it all out on the table. It’s not bad luck to think of what could go wrong, it’ll help you keep your sanity,” says de Wet.  

Every event planner knows that things can and will go wrong when planning a corporate event. The secret is to partner with competent and reliable service providers who recognise the potential for things to go awry and know how to plan accordingly.

Chat to the team at Hyatt Regency Johannesburg to create an event your delegates will remember.