5 Most Common Event-Planning Mistakes


Strategist Jen Anderson shares tips on how to avoid costly errors.

Jen Anderson Headshot

Jen Anderson

The backbone of every successful event is a team of people who work tirelessly, often after hours and behind the scenes, to make it happen. It is a stressful job, but very rewarding when all goes well. Below are five common event-planning mistakes that I have seen during my career — and a few tips on how to avoid them so that all does go well.

Not Planning Early Enough
Once you have a date, a budget, and a brief, commence straight away. Do not procrastinate as venues are booked well in advance. So, securing your venue should be at the very top of your to-do list. Then, research entertainers and guest speakers to check their availability and once you’ve selected speakers, book them as soon as possible. Make sure you have the signed, returned contracts to ensure they are secured.

Before you set the date, make sure to check that there are no competing events happening around the date or on the same day. Don’t force prospective delegates to choose between your event and another taking place on that day. Make sure to send your guests save-the-date notifications to mark it in their calendar and follow up with RSVPs. Send a reminder closer to the date of the event.

Not Having an Event Project Plan and Checklist
Create a master project plan with timelines and tasks that are aligned to budget points. This checklist is critical as it provides an overall view of how the project is progressing — and ensures planning deadlines are not overlooked. A master project plan will also allow you to keep track of changes to the scope of the event. Make another final checklist ahead of the big day and double- and triple-check it prior to leaving for the venue.

Not Anticipating Budget Blowout
Underestimating production requirements can be a costly mistake. Make sure you know the brief and work with your selected suppliers to ensure that everything you agreed upon is included in the contract — and that there are no hidden costs after that contract is signed. If you don’t understand certain industry jargon from technical suppliers, ask for clarification. Be sure to allow at least 10 percent to 15 percent in your budget for unforeseen circumstances.

Not Planning for Low Attendance or “No-Shows”
After all the planning, the worst fear for any event organiser is empty space. Ensure that you do enough marketing to promote your event and launch a last-minute promotion if required. If attendee numbers are low and the event venue feels empty, make it smaller by partitioning off a central space. If attendance is free, you can invite 20 percent to 30 percent more attendees than required to cover for no-shows.

Not Getting Confirmations in Writing
To avoid misunderstandings and to protect yourself, make sure every detail, however small, is noted in writing. Always follow up verbal communication with third parties, hired talent, and internal staff in writing with an email.

Jen Anderson is the founder of SORTED OUT, a Singapore-based event management consultancy. After a 20-year career as an event planner and executive assistant in the banking industry, Anderson recently completed a contract with SLUSH Singapore, managing partnerships and investor relations. This article was compiled by Untangled, a Singapore-based content, marketing, and business strategy consultancy, whose staff Anderson recently joined.