This may be hard to hear, especially as a client, but it’s the truth: Even the best professional event and meeting planners make mistakes. After all, nobody’s perfect. Having all the experience in the world does not make you able to predict every possible catastrophe, from shattered glasses to the lights going out to a medical emergency. Sometimes, things just go wrong, and there is nothing you can do about it except address and fix the problem as soon as possible.

However, you can always tell a strong planner by one important trait: how they react to mistakes and how they avoid making them in the future.

When you are planning an event, meeting or an activation, everyone knows you need to have a plan B, C, or even D and E. It is crucial to anticipate what can go wrong with the site (such as the caterer running out of food or the DJ playing the music too loud), the possibility of inclement weather, or anything that our famous emergency kit could handle. Today, there are even more elements to consider, such as the possibility of a protest at the site or a guest having an allergic reaction to mislabeled food at the buffet.

So what do you do about the crisis you don’t see coming?

Sometimes, you just can’t prepare for every possible disaster. What the best planners do is make sure they are ready to react to any disaster.

Here’s how Red Velvet Events stays ready to respond to an unforeseen incident at an event or meeting:

  • Stay calm. This is the first and most important step, especially since guests will often mimic what they see. Take a deep breathe and stay focused, and you’ll make far better decisions.
  • Analyze the situation. Do you need to call 9-1-1 or the fire department? Is anyone in immediate danger, and if so, how do you get them help or mitigate the threat?
  • Keep the client informed. Again, it’s essential to do this without panicking. You’re in charge of the situation, and you need to demonstrate this by providing a solution or solutions to the client when you update them about the problem.
  • Stay alert. Paying attention to what’s going on doesn’t just help you be prepared for unexpected emergencies – it can also prevent them in the first place. For example, walk through the space like a guest would. Are there loose boards or other trip hazards anywhere? Are candles placed too closely to the table centerpieces? Noticing things like this can help you stop fires before they start, both literally and metaphorically.
  • Own up to your mistake. This is especially important if the mistake ends up becoming a PR disaster. As a leader, you need to own your error and address it directly with the client. Never ever point fingers, especially in public or to the media. That’s not going to save face or win anyone’s trust. Truly, the best thing to do is to genuinely show how the mistake will not be repeated in the future.
  • Note the incident and learn from it. Skilled event planners are prepared for 99% of the things that go wrong at live events. If you didn’t see this coming, you might not have had a realistic view of how the event was going to play out. Whatever happens, whether it’s big or small, make a note of it and make sure to take the issue into account when planning events in the future.
  • Find a way to move on. Yes, you can own up to your mistakes, learn from them, and make sure they don’t happen again while also moving on. You have to be able to be professional enough to fix failures while also lettings things go if you want to succeed in this business.

That’s how we stay ready to recover from event failures. What about you? Do you have any stories or tips on how to bounce back from an event disaster? Share your advice in the comments!