This is a guest post by Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM—Director of Marketing at Treasure Island Wines, a winery and tasting room on Treasure Island in SF. Check out their upcoming Wines + Valentines event!
Lou has previously written about taking smart event risks, generating more revenue with smaller events, and procuring in-kind donations and sponsorships. Today she discusses “crimes of event passion”—those mistakes you can make when you’re trying too hard to throw the perfect event.
Decisions driven by ardor rather than logic can lodge a fatal arrow right through the heart of your event. Often these mistakes are committed obliviously—and therefore they can be difficult to correct. Even senior event professionals can fall vulnerable to the fervor-driven gaffe. Below are five common crimes of event passion, with corresponding preventative measures:
1. Over “Comping”
Although you may have factored comp VIPs into your P&L (or the equivalent max attendance figure for gratis events) it is easy to get intoxicated by “critical mass” and keep inviting your friends, clients, and VIPs with abandon, without vetting the net value they may yield. In many cases, adding more attendees—such as very specific influential media and prequalified leads—is a good thing, but too often the gatekeeper(s) abandon discretion. Getting fast and loose with attendance will seriously impede the perceived value of the event (not to mention destroy your budget). In addition to knowing the exact cost per person at your event—and there is a cost even at a free event—let this formula be your filter: goals and objectives divided by budget. In other words, if you cannot argue that the individuals admitted will support your goals and objectives and/or their attendance offers zero benefit or puts you in the red, don’t add them.
2. Love Notes Gone Awry
You (or a senior executive) love a particular keynote or entertainer so much that they are hired to perform with complete disregard for program messaging or the wants and needs of your audience. Although you rarely have complete control, insist on hiring talent that meets at least 75% of your objectives and audience needs.
3. Venue Blindness
We are all vulnerable to the seduction of dazzling ocean views, dramatic cliff edge lodging or a mesmerizing celebrity chef. In short, you have to maintain clarity when selecting your venue. On occasion a particularly spectacular venue does allow you to argue away challenges like a very long travel time or higher cost rental. A simple checklist of must-haves will keep you out of trouble (like access to public transportation, affordability, Internet access).
4. Narcissus Effect
You love your own ideas so much you cannot see past their weaknesses or hackneyed usage. You have always integrated that darling signature cocktail or adorable ice breaker activity into every event. If you find yourself repeating or defending an element, you may be its primary (or sole) admirer. Have the courage to set it free.
5. The Butt Kiss Of Death
Your boss or a senior player wants something: a champagne toast you cannot fit in the budget, a ridiculous transportation vehicle or insisting Joe (from marketing who is in a garage band) perform for your clients—and yet you don’t raise any flags. Showing deference to your pack leader’s preferences is one sure way to sabotage event results. Conflict doesn’t have to be disrespectful. Just raise concerns gently and have a plan to offer alternatives with significantly greater advantages.
Thanks again to Louise Felsher. And speaking of passion…remember to check out Wines + Valentines!