Last year I was tasked, alongwith another event planner, to create a proposal for an event for 20,000 people that the Event Creators/Organizers wanted to hold in a sports stadium.
Yes! We were excited, but we also know better than to bank on anything until a contract is in place and money is in hand.
A contract/event this size requires quite a few conversations to make sure all the details are covered. Take your average 100 person event and magnify that 1000x for all the work, details and staff that need to be managed and organized. The event creators said they were projecting to make upwards of 100 million on the event and they were going to invest 30% into the event. Great, that’s reasonable and on point.
After multiple conversations and a completed proposal and lots of promises to move forward, we ran into our biggest red flag when it comes to events in general.
They were going to wait to make some ticket sales BEFORE they secured the venue or executed the event contract with us.
HUGE RED FLAG!!!
DO NOT CROSS GO AND DO NOT COLLECT $200!
We backed off very quickly from this contract because that was one of many red flags we had run into. It was also the biggest.
The event was being created by 3 business owners who were partnering on this idea and when you looked at them, you would believe that they are super successful based on their public persona. Appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes we have to do more work to vet a client than is reasonable because what and how they show up is not authentic or genuine. We really wanted to believe in their vision, but when information is held back or incomplete it creates an issue that becomes insidious even after the event contract is signed.
Here are a few of the biggest red flags and issues that we, as event planners, look out for and stear clear of:
- Short lead time. They were less than 9 months away from this event and with the magnitude of work that needed to be completed, we would recommend 12-18 month lead time. (not required, but recommended)
- Lack of decision maker. Between the 3 business owners, NONE of them wanted to be the final decision maker. That told us there was a lack of trust between the three of them. When working with multiple partners/team members, we require one decision maker as the main point of contact.
- Half truths. We realized that much of what they told us as fact was really hopes, dreams and a bunch of maybes. They wanted to present a united and educated front, but they had no idea what they were doing or how they were doing it. At the beginning of the conversation, we were told the venue was secured, but a few weeks later we were told that they needed to sell tickets to secure the venue.
- No money. They were not willing to invest their own money. When you decide to create an event for your business, you must be willing to invest your own money into it. Yes, you can get sponsors, sell exhibitor booths, etc, etc. No matter what you have to have your own cash to put into the mix. You cannot wait for ticket sales to move forward on your event. See my Event Revenue Resource.
While that event would have been amazing to plan and manage, it was doomed because the event creators never took the proper steps to create the foundation for their event. This happens with events of ALL sizes. It doesn’t matter how big your event will be you still have to have a solid event foundation. When you show up ill-prepared on your event you create more work and stress for you, your team and your event planner and anyone else affiliated with your event such as speakers, vendors, sponsors, etc.
Take these steps to create a solid foundation for your event:
- Define Your Purpose, Goals – You Why
- Identify Your Target Audience
- Determine Your Budget – Allocate 30% to invest in your event planner
- Decide on the Experience You Want to Create
- Determine Event Deadlines/Timelines – You may need work with your planner on this.
I have Quick Start Checklists to help you get a jumpstart and build your event foundation. You can build this foundation with a little bit of time and no money. It’s all about what you want to create. When you have these elements figured out, you can take this to your team and your event planner and they will be able to help you fine tune your vision and implement it successfully.