There are many reasons why events fail and even the best planning and foresight can’t save you from what you don’t know. With more than 30 years of combined event experience we’ve narrowed it down to 7 common mistakes and best ways to find continued success with your events.
1. Lack of Leadership & Hard Work
“Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work. – Booker T. Washington
Good leaders are made, not born. If you have the desire and willpower, you can become an effective leader. Good leaders develop through a never ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience (Jago, 1982). Often, event organizers think their event is the next big thing but this initial thinking causes them to put the cart before the horse instead of focusing on building a specialized team and marketing plan. Delivering a great experience and a sell out event begins with an idea but if you don’t surround yourself with an engaged staff and delegate duties based on specializations you’re going to find yourself in a hole long before the event begins. Too many times event organizers wait till the last minute to execute a lack luster marketing plan or depend solely on their event ticketing company to sell tickets for their event. It comes down to getting your hands dirty, especially when you’re starting out with a first or second year event. Nothing beats hard work and even the best ideas need a cohesive plan and a specialized team to execute it. Unexpected things will happen and you’re going to have to adjust throughout the event lifecycle. Being a leader and creating a positive culture will give you the foundation to turn your idea into a successful event business. Finally, keep learning everyday from your mistakes and improve your process.
2. Not Knowing Your Target Market
“If you build it, they will come.” This line may have worked in Field of Dreams, but it will cause your event to fail before the first ticket is sold. You must define your target audience by asking these questions:
- What is the reason for this event? The most basic question you should ask as it helps you understand the motivation for why people would want to attend your event in the first place.
- What are my key demographics? Age, location, gender, martial status, generation etc. will give you insights into who you want to target. Knowing demographics will give you a solid base for digging deeper into who your perfect attendee is.
- What do my attendees care about? Often overlooked is creating a ideal persona around the perfect attendee for your event. Understanding the needs and wants of your attendees is paramount in creating a lasting consumer relationship.
- Where are they on the internet and mobile? Probably the most important question to ask when defining your target market is where are your attendees? Do they spend time on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter? Having a multi-pronged approach to targeting your attendees everywhere they might be is key. You have to tell a story and it’s important to use each marketing channel in a manner that stays true to the brand and experience you’re trying to cultivate.
Tip: Looking for help in trying to expand your targeting capabilities? Check out our article on retargeting for events or visit our friends at Event Manager Blog for 10 Traits of Amazing Event Marketers.
3. Taking Sponsorship Seriously? Not Nearly Enough.
If you’ve ever promoted an event, you probably know what an important role sponsors play in making sure the event is successful. Sponsors help generate capital for expenses, getting the word out, and with the overall presentation of your event. Securing a great sponsor is difficult and it takes a well crafted offering, mixed with creative ideas to sell them on your event. Below are several questions you should be asking to successfully acquire the right sponsorships for your event:
- Does your event brand align with the sponsors?
- Do you have a good plan for the event so the sponsor feels engaged?
- What will they receive for their investment?
- How are you going to emphasize the community impact?
- How are you going to sell the sponsorship?
Pro Tip: Having trouble finding sponsors? We’ve found the perfect site tailored to helping events find sponsors and sponsors find events. Check it out here.
4. Social Media Pitfalls
For event organizers, social media offers various channels to engage your attendees and gain valuable insights to who they are and what they enjoy. According to EventManagerBlog, 85% of event professionals are leveraging social media for marketing, 60% for feedback and 55% for sharing photos and videos. Having a Facebook fan page or Twitter account doesn’t get the job done any more. With Facebook focusing on monetizing their ad platform and Twitter being a firehose of content it’s becoming more difficult for events to have a voice and reach their target audience. Event ticketing companies provide a plethora of options to engage your attendees through social media, but very few have come up with a way to incentivize attendees to share events on their networks until now. With that in mind, Xorbia Tickets developed the first of it’s kind software called FANalytics. FANalytics provides social incentives for purchasers to share the event on Facebook and Twitter while providing valuable social reporting on the platform so event organizers can identify and reward their top fans.
Utilizing features like FANalytics is great, but you must also have a content calendar dedicated to social media so you can keep a consistent voice for your brand. Events should also be taking advantage of sites like Hootsuite or Buffer that allow you to scale your social process. Here are some underutilized social media platforms that events need to take advantage of:
- Instagram – hands down every event or organization needs to be on Instagram. You can use it at events, for promotions, and most importantly to connect with your attendees. Instagram allows for a personal experience with an event brand that is engaging and accessible.
- Snapchat – the platform is ideal for engaging millennials (18-34) and nearly 3 out of 4 users are female. With Snapchat you can generate pre-event buzz by sharing exciting content and keep attendees involved during the event with Snapchat stories.
- Reddit – there are very few event organizers who see Reddit as a great marketing opportunity but with 175 million monthly active users it’s a gold mine for learning more about your attendees and promoting your upcoming event.
No matter what type of event you have you need to be on social media and consistently posting curated content. 51% of digital media usage is now on mobile and social media plays a large part in driving traffic to events. Adopt a serious social event strategy and utilize these platforms in conjunction with Facebook and Twitter.
5. On-site Execution
So you’ve marketed the hell out of your event and you’ve got thousands of people lined up and ready to have a great experience, nice job! Hmm those entry lines are epically long, there aren’t enough bathrooms, the vendor lines take hours and they’re out of food and beer. Let’s face it, you’ve failed and it’s going to be extremely hard to retain those attendees. As event organizers and event ticketing experts we’ve all been there and understand that many of these issues are hard to plan for and even harder to fix once they occur. Let’s dive in to each of the pitfalls listed above and see how we can plan ahead to avoid any major on-site problems:
- Entry Lines – long lines are common in the event industry and we’ve narrowed the issue down to the four S’s for event success: Staffing, stanchions, signage, and scanning.
- Staff: for wrist-banding, checking ID’s, handing out cups or merchandise, and scanning tickets.
- Stanchions: commonly known barricades or bike rack. You need to have plans for how many gates you’re going to have and how you want the attendees to flow on the day of the event. Stanchions provide a path or corral for attendees to follow and help form sustained lines and streamline the entry process.
- Signage: have highly visible and well-marked signage at the entrance area. If you have door sales or a VIP line they should be clearly marked and located in an open space so attendees have easy access.
- Scanning: your event ticketing company should have an easy way for you to validate attendees at the gate. Xorbia Tickets has a free iOS/Android scanning app that scans 30 tickets per minute with easy setup for training volunteers and staff. The scanning technology should have a 99.9% uptime with the ability to scan print-at-home and mobile tickets with ease.
Interested in learning more about our on-site staffing and scanning capabilities? Shoot us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Bathrooms – unless you’re a seasoned event planner it’s often hard to determine the amount of bathrooms you’ll need. You have to take the type of event into account and obviously your attendees which can be tough for some events who have a lot of last minute and day of purchases. For most veteran event planners the bathroom needs can be an afterthought since there is usually a set process but just in case you’re interested we’ve got you covered with the
Portable Toilet Event Planning Tool.
- Vendor Lines – sometimes vendor lines are hard to avoid as it can be difficult depending on the event. With that said, this issue should still be of serious concern especially for food centric events. We’ve seen events fail in this regard and never recover because of the terrible event experience lines create. When planning for vendors be sure to plan according to your budget and ticket sales inventory. From our experience you should have at least 15 vendors for every 1,000 tickets sold if food samples are included in the ticket price. This number could easily vary depending on the space, city, and permits so in the end you have to use your best judgement based on experience. If you don’t have experience then don’t hesitate to find outside help. Executing a great event experience for all of your attendees should be the utmost concern.
Executing a successful event is about creating a positive, coordinated culture among your event staff and volunteers. Delegating duties and trusting your production staff to deliver on expectations will greatly improve your chances of creating that flawless event experience for the attendees and your team. Finally, always communicate with your ticketing company so expectations are defined for event scanning execution.
6. Location, location, location
The location of your event and how key event areas will play out can be your biggest advantage to setting up your event for success. When choosing your event space you should have plenty of additional room for attendees. Though not always feasible due to budget constraints it’s better to have a 1,500 person event that creates a memorable experience than a 2,500 person event that creates a claustrophobic line fest for attendees. When choosing the location be aware of the how the space will play to the overall experience for your attendees. Try not to overlook parking for your event, having access to on-site parking will help increase attendance especially if your event is just starting out. Finally, hedge your bets by being prepared for the unexpected when it comes to weather; this can mean choosing an indoor/outdoor venue or having large tents for shade and protection from the elements.
7. Pricing Strategies
Determining the right pricing strategy will make the difference between a successful event and a failed idea. We’ve compiled 4 tips that will set you on the course for event success and continued growth.
- Know your event – perception is reality so know how your potential attendees perceive your event and deliver to that expectation or adjust your pricing strategy accordingly.
- Create a budget – know your competition as you know your attendees are comparing your event to theirs and be aware of multiple revenue streams. Although tickets are your main source of revenue you should also have a solid strategy for sponsors and vendors who want to participate in your event. In order to breakeven follow this simple formula: Total Event Cost/Attendees = 1 Ticket
- Multiple ticket options/tiered pricing – having multiple ticket options creates opportunity for potential attendees and offering different pricing levels creates urgency that can boost ticket sales at the beginning of your event launch. One of the most basic, yet successful ticket options is early bird, regular admission, and late admission creating urgency throughout the sales process.
- Look at past events – having event management software that collects and organizes past event data can be very helpful in determining an event pricing strategy. It allows you to compare previous years events to determine what affected your ticket sales from year over year. This will make planning your future ticket revenue much easier.
With this list, you are well on your way to executing a successful event that will thrive for years to come. To avoid these 7 event management fails, first and foremost you must understand it takes leadership and hard work to become a veteran event organizer. Know your audience and deliver on their expectations, not yours. Take sponsorships seriously and be transparent to create a lasting relationship. Avoid social media pitfalls and don’t hesitate to adopt new channels for reaching your attendees. Execute on-site by streamlining your entry process, having adequate bathrooms, and enough good vendors. Next, find a great location and don’t oversell the event. Finally, adopt a pricing strategy that strikes a balance between an amazing attendee experience and your budget.
Interested in selling out your next event even faster? Learn about Xorbia Ticket’s platform with powerful event management software designed to help event professionals gain valuable insights and execute successful events.