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Top 5 Event Fails of 2013

ES_EventFailsWe talk with thousands of event organizers all year. What are the 5 biggest event planning faux pas? We hope to save you time, money, frustration and ease you into 2014 by sharing these lessons learned. Want a smooth event? Plan and simplify. Avoid these trials and tribulations.

1. Complicated Pricing
Keeping pricing simple can save a lot of time and headache for both you and your attendees. While festivals and conference may seem like the perfect place to implement complicated ticket types and passes, event producers can achieve the same amount or more sales with intuitive and basic pricing. As you set your prices, avoid increments of a dollar such as $11, $21, $31. It’s too difficult to manage cash and change at the door or gate.

Tip: Clearly state what payment methods are available at the door of your event. Cash only? Cash and debit/credit? Avoid confusion at the box office by making this clear.

2. Lack of Staffing 
Having enough staff to be on-hand at events is crucial to managing a successful event. If problems occur, you want to have people ready to answer questions or concerns on the fly. As you allocate resources for your event, think about what categories will require more financial resource support than others (i.e., furniture rental, catering, staffing, electrical, etc.).

Everyone wants to run events with as little cost as possible. But if you have 200 people on the will-call list and expect 100-200 more for walk up sales, you need to have more than 2 people running the door sales and will-call.

3. Improper Box Office Management 
It’s game day. Is your door staff familiar with how to quickly access attendee information? Be prepared for people who forgot “print-at-home” tickets, lost their physical tickets or show up on the wrong night of a performance.

What do different delivery methods (physical vs. print-at-home vs. will call vs. mobile) you have chosen mean to your staff when admitting people to the event. How long does it take to verify each of those types of tickets at the door? Put a system in place to easily confirm attendee transactions for your door staff. Run a test for how long it takes to verify the different ticket types to move people through the door quickly.

Ensure your box office lead knows what authority they have to simply comp an attendee instead of bickering for 10 minutes (and holding up the line) over whether or not they actually purchased tickets.

4. Lack of Flexibility
Events can change. Months of planning can get ruined in a matter of minutes. Be flexible and put back-up plans in place if something does not go according to plan. Anticipate hurdles. Be in regular communication with your ticket buyers to set expectations. Maintain good relationships with your event registration support team—for managing refunds, a canceled event or other scenarios.

Have your cell phone on you at all times to quickly answer last-minute questions or put out fires.

5. Insufficient Market Research
Know thy audience. Are your event attendees technology-savvy? Active on social media? A mix of techies and non-techies? Do your events normally require cash payment? What will your patrons expect? Some ticket buyers are more familiar with walk-up sales and ordering tickets via mail. While online registration expands visibility of your event, make it clear other methods to buy tickets—include a direct link to your event page (in emails, on social media pages, etc.), list the phone number, etc. Communication is key.

What lessons have you learned the hard way this year? Words of wisdom for fellow event producers? Answer our survey below. Any questions or concerns about event promotion, operations, planning or marketing? Give us a call at (800) 838-3006 x5 or email

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