Event Horror Stories: Scary Good Lessons Learned! (Webinar Recap)

“In every category when you organize an event, manage all the risk assessments. What can happen in transportation? Food? AV? Decorations? […] A little something will pop up because the event is live […] but the better you will be able to control these things. “ – Valerie Bihet

Webinar graphic for Event Horror Stories: Scary Good Lessons Learned!

This is just one of the many ways to ease your pre-event scaries discussed at our Webinar: Event Horror Stories: Scary Good Lessons Learned! 

Our guests Glady Mezrahi, President & CEO of Indigo Events and author of “More Wow and Less Oops, and Valerie Bihet, Director of VIBE Agency do a deep dive into all their most dreadful event scenarios. Beware, we’re talking about missing speakers, hundreds of extra attendees, tropical storms, and the most nightmarish – AV issues. But have no fear! Our guests will show you how to turn even the most terrifying moments into terrific event experiences!

A large group of people walking together. An event horror of too many guests.

What do you do when more attendees show up than you planned for?

“It took engineers to change the room around so we could accommodate 150 more [people]. [And] after the engineers were very happy that we showed them a different way [to use the space]. That’s how we handled it. We’re problem solvers” – Gladys Mezrahi

Mezrahi told a story about an event where registration jumped from 470 to 900 at midnight before her event. Very scary indeed! To accommodate the extra attendees, Mezrahi and her team converted an indoor basketball court at the venue into an innovative luncheon space. Her team’s quick thinking and creativity even impressed the onsite engineers! 

So the moral of the story – there’s always a way to accommodate extra attendees at your event. You might have to use rooms that aren’t always meeting rooms – yoga studios, tennis courts, etc. But the space is out there if you believe it!  

Bihet added that in-person attendance is up to 100 percent right now, especially for corporate events.  So be ready for a packed house and maybe even a few unexpected attendees! 

A man saying that an event is overbooked. A real-life event horror situation.

What if your venue cancels at the last minute, or double-books a room? 

“Count 5-4-3-2-1, seconds, then try to find a solution.” – Valerie Bihet

Bihet shared a real-life nightmare where she showed up at the venue to collect the key to a penthouse for an event, but the space was still occupied. Her team only had a few hours to set up the event and nowhere to go. So what did she do? 

She took 5 seconds to compose herself, then she made a deal with the venue to use a separate room for rehearsal space. Also, she just so happened to know the person using the penthouse, so she made a deal with them to use the space for a few hours, just during the event. 

In the end, it was a combination of creativity, dealmaking, and leaning on your existing connections to make the event happen. Oh, and it’s no use wasting time fretting over the problem. Take a breath, and start thinking of solutions right away. 

A man saying I understand your frustration.

How do you avoid AV nightmares? 

“I always try to bring in my own AV company, because I trust them.” – Gladys Mezrahi

Mezrahi’s worst AV nightmare happened when the venue wouldn’t allow her to bring her trusted AV team, and as she expected, everything did not go to plan. The one video she absolutely needed to share would not play with sound, and the venue’s AV team was nowhere in sight. Terrifying! 

Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t work with venue AV teams. Many of these teams are very good and only getting better as they add hybrid and virtual capabilities. It’s really just about working with AV teams that you know and trust. You need AV professionals that will rehearse everything alongside you, and most importantly, be there if anything scary happens! 

Bihet added an important point that venues are booked solid right now, and this can make it challenging to get enough time to set up and rehearse before your event. As a planner, you have to push for the time you need to set up your event properly and make sure the venue is sticking by its commitment.

Ghost busters getting rid of a ghost.

What if you are ghosted by a speaker? 

“I asked some of the speakers that had already spoken to change the subject a bit and step in […] On another occasion. I had to be the speaker.” – Gladys Mezrahi

Neither Mezrahi or Bihet had any stories about being completely ghosted, which is a good thing, but they did have their fair share of speakers canceling at the last minute. Sometimes this was passport issues, missed flights, or any number of things that are out of the speaker’s control. 

The important thing is how you solve the problem. You can turn to speakers that are already there and ask them to give an additional, slightly different presentation. It’s also possible the missing speaker can help pick a replacement, someone who is familiar with their work. This works well with corporate events, where multiple people are working on a presentation. 

Both guests also pointed out that virtual and hybrid events make it possible for your speaker to be there as long as they have a laptop and an internet connection. All you need on your end is an AV team that’s ready for virtual speakers. 

ProTip: A simple way to rehearse your virtual capabilities is to try calling in to your event yourself on your laptop! 

Man saying safety first.

What do you do if there’s a natural disaster on the day of your event? 

“Don’t take any risks, focus on security for your team and security for your vendors. If everybody is on board, do it. If people are not. You need to go to the client right away.” Valerie Bihet

Storms, fires, tornados, and natural disasters of all types are very real possibilities, depending on where your event is happening. The number one goal if anything like this happens is that you don’t take any risks (this was emphasized by both our guests). 

Have a plan in place for unexpected events that are particular to your climate. For example, if your event is in a tropical setting during hurricane season – you should know where to shelter, just in case. 

Also, keep in mind that some things are out of your control. You can’t control the weather! Moreover, if your team and vendors are comfortable putting on the event, great. If not, then let your client know earlier rather than later. They might be disappointed, but they will 100 percent understand and say that you did the right thing. 

When you’re prepared, nothing can scare you!

When you prepare for all the risks, there isn’t much that can catch you off guard. 

For many extra attendees, think about spaces that aren’t usually meeting spaces – basketball courts, yoga studios, tennis courts, etc. For AV issues, it’s all about having a team that you trust and people who can be there to fix a problem right away. And if a speaker can’t make it, create a way for that speaker to present virtually, or have a plan for a speaker that’s present to step in. In reality, with a little preparation, nothing can scare you on the event day. Unless the venue is haunted of course! 👻

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