Event Planning 101 - Don’t be like the Fyre Festival
By now, you have probably seen one, if not both, Fyre Festival documentaries. As an event marketing professional, I watched with increasing anxiety and disbelief. How did they let this event get so out of control?! Taking a step back, I realized that it’s not as crazy as it seems and I found myself asking, “What would I do in that situation?”
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of what you are producing and the belief that it will all work out in the end. I've been a part of plenty events that feel like they might not happen until the last minute, when it all seems to come together. So how do you make sure your event does not go the way of the Fyre Festival? Here are a few tips I follow when planning my upcoming events.
Tip 1: Have realistic expectations
It is important to understand what you and your team are actually capable of doing. What resources do you have? What is the agreed upon budget? Everyone on the planning team should be working with the same information. Not every company can produce a full day conference for 5,000+ people, and that’s OK. Does your event really need a speaker that charges $10,000 for a 45-minute presentation? Maybe...but maybe not. Know what type of event makes sense for your organization and for your target audience.
Tip 2: Give yourself enough time to plan
A successful event takes time to plan. An executive dinner may only be 2-3 hours long, but you still need at least a month to book your venue, get on your attendee's calendar, plan discussion topics, etc. Be smart in your timing. Events are often scheduled based on what makes sense for the business, so do not rush it just to rush it.
Some last-minute events are inevitable. Read our guide for producing a successful, quick-turn event.
Tip 3: Backup plans are essential
I cannot express this enough, every event needs a Plan B (and a Plan C)! The leaders of the Fyre Festival could have saved everyone a lot of headaches (and money, and time, and and and….the list goes on) if they had thought through the worst case of every scenario and created contingency plans. Backup plans give your team guidance, create confidence in leaders, and demonstrate an understanding of your event’s environment. One of your backup plans might even be to cancel the event. As horrible as that is, your team will at least know where things stand.
Tip 4: Honesty is really the best policy
Really, just don’t lie. Be honest with your team, your internal stakeholders, and your attendees. Honesty sets expectations and, in the end, sets you up for success. The Fyre team lied to everyone including themselves, causing one of the most spectacular event failures in recent history. Don’t be like the Fyre team! As we saw in all the festival coverage, dishonesty can destroy brands and personal reputations in an instant.
When all is said and done, being able to say you're proud of your work, and that you remained true to yourself and your standards, is really what matters. Event planning is all about creating a memorable experience for your attendees. It is up to you to make sure it is a positive one.