During my time in the events business I’ve seen a fair number of successful events, as well as witnessed some failures. In my experience, there are some key factors that, in some combination, will guarantee the failure of your event. Here’s what I believe are the critical mistakes that event organizers make.
1) Taking attendees for granted
This can mean that you don’t seek their feedback or, even worse, if you do solicit it, you fail to take any action in response. If you are not paying attention to your customers you are also not likely to be paying close attention to the direction your market is heading in either. You are likely not that attentive to the attendees’ onsite experience as long as you succeed in getting them onto the exhibit floor. And you have probably never picked up the phone and spoken to an attendee with the intent of engaging with them vs. responding to a problem that they bring to your attention.
This is the ‘build it and they will come’ factor.
2) Taking exhibitors for granted
You fail to go the extra mile for exhibitors when something is needed onsite or you ignore them until it’s time to rebook. You raise prices without good supporting reasons. You have no idea what creates the ROI that will attract exhibitors to return to your event. You don’t have personal connections with any of CMO’s or VP’s of Marketing that make the decisions about coming to your event.
This is the ‘my show is more important than you’ factor.
3) Hiring the wrong people
I’ve hired many people and the best were those with a “can do”, rather than “9-5” attitude – regardless of their skill or experience level. These are the staff members who will dig in when things are hard and will find the answer when it’s not obvious. The good ones are those who allow you to sleep at night because you know they have your back. In contrast, the wrong people are ‘the throw you under the bus’, the ‘it’s not my job’, or ‘it’s not possible’ people. They will fold under pressure and disappear when their effort is needed.
This is the ‘not my problem’ factor.
4) Not doing your homework
When doing your annual forecasts, do you understand the market conditions or the state of the competition? Are you able to react when something changes or are you unaware of what is really going on? Do you know the strengths and weakness of your show and are you in a position to do anything about them?
This is the ‘what me, worry?’ factor
5) Not building and tapping into your network
Most people only tap into their network when they need something, often then finding that the network is not extensive enough to address what’s needed. There is enough expertise in this business such that you should be able to find expertise within or outside of your network and gain assistance quickly. If this is not the case, get out of the office and meet some people not just sit behind the computer.
This is the ’Me Myself and I’ factor
6) Not taking care of your database
Do you know what the bounce rate of your attendee base is? The opt out rate? Have you segmented your database so that you can easily send out targeted messaging to your top personas? If the answer to any one of these questions is “no”, then you have some back office work to do. If you don’t understand the numbers, or the content of one of your prized assets, your event will suffer.
This is the ‘my tools don’t need cleaning’ factor.
Having any one of these factors will damage your event, but two or more in combination will eventually kill it. Beware and act so that your event does not become one of the victims….