But (the unread subtext) is: “We expect you to clean it up when it doesn’t show up, doesn’t work, or was a bad decision.”
How often do we hear from our prospects (or even old clients) that all bases are covered by their internal staff, or in the case of social events, by the bride, or her mother, or favorite uncle, or bridesmaid? And with Google being everyone’s best friend, who needs a professional?
I met with a friend yesterday who charged a wedding coordination fee for such a person. The client insisted that she could find and hire all her own best vendors. So my friend offered as part of their day of assistance to call those vendors to coordinate and manage them on site.
Let’s start with the biggest mishap first. The client failed to notify my friend of any bussing or shuttle needs, and then she hired a bus company to shuttle her guests from the hotel to the venue. The venue was a vineyard, with very narrow and semi-paved roads and very limited turnaround space, enough for a car, but certainly not enough for a 54-passenger bus! The bus company got lost, delaying the wedding ceremony by 45 minutes (trickle down to the meal perhaps?). And when the bus arrived it could not fit through the gates of the venue. The hosts had to gather cars to drive to the entrance to pick up guests and shuttle them to the ceremony. Makes for a great mood, don’t you think? Then, of course, the return would require the same Chinese Fire Drill. Would the hosts want to leave their celebration to shuttle people again? My friend suggested dismissing the big bus and getting two smaller coaches for the return, along with ordering Ubers for those who wanted to leave early as Uber drivers could not only find the venue, but fit through the gates. This was agreed to, and the client told the driver, who then went home without alerting his company that they needed to send the two smaller vehicles. Holiday weekend. Office closed. Only VM.
Well, in truth there were voices… of the aggravated guests and the even more aggravated hosts. And this was only one of the missteps.
For corporate events, there are no brides and grooms but CEOs, and we can slide down the food chain from there to figure out who is responsible for managing major conferences and events where they do “everything” in-house. Really? You own an AV company, create dazzling florals, cook and serve spectacular meals while playing the harp, and perhaps do an aerial ballet at the same time? A bit of a stretch I admit, but the point is that rarely is a company as well connected as a professional planner who has extensive resources.
To take that a step farther, who then coordinates all the disparate entities that have been hired independently of each other? I will give you one such war story. In a nutshell, the planner had given all her vendors the wrong date, because event planning was only one of her many responsibilities for her company. The actual event was the day before she had confirmed. And on the day of the event she called me for a few of the items she had ordered screaming, “Where are the set pieces?” I replied, “They’ll be there tomorrow on schedule.” She then yelled “But my event is today!” (in four hours from the time she called). There were over 50 separate piece of entertainment, several rooms of décor, and technical equipment, etc., etc., etc.
My point? Let’s educate our clients on our true capabilities and advise them gently on the consequences of not using a professional to do what a professional does best which is not making mistakes.
I would love to hear some of YOUR stories. Please share.
Andrea Michaels is the founder and president of Extraordinary Events, an international, multi-award-winning event agency based in Los Angeles. She is the author of Reflections of a Successful Wallflower: Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life. She may be reached via email@example.com.