How not to organise a sloppy event

The other day we attended an invite-only event. It was held at a hotel so far from where we live that we spent over 9 hours travelling back & forth. The actual event lasted for 35 minutes. This was supposed to be a special occasion & an important event which justified the time, effort, energy & money we spent on it. The truth is our efforts were in no way proportionate to the event itself. To say we were disappointed would be an understatement!

Based on this bad experience, I put together some of the basic stuff I or (I am sure it is safe to say) anyone attending would like:

1. Use the right word to describe the event & give agenda

Our invitation card said reception but at the event there was also a book launch! I was wondering why the event started off with a discussion on the new book.

2. Mention dress code &/or type of event

It would be clear & helpful to the guests if they are told in advance (in the invitation) whether they’ll be attending a semi-formal, formal or casual event. *Although the event I attended didn’t mention this, all those who turned up stuck to formal or semi-formal. It might not be similar in all cases.*

3. Specify exact location of the event

In the invitation: To say ‘at XYZ hotel’ is not good enough even if you give the hotel address. Specify which Conference room or Meeting hall in the hotel. It is easier to find our way!

At the hotel: Ask the hotel to put up info board specifying where to go. At the event I attended, there were a large group waiting at the hotel lobby. We too waited with them. None of us knew where exactly the event was (no info board or even a paper sign). Finally, we asked the guy at the hotel reception desk & he directed us to a conference room in another building of the hotel.

4. Size of the event

If not in the invite; in a blog, event page or website there must be mention of how huge or small the event is aimed to be. I was expecting about 50 people, TH & a group of fellow attendees were guessing 100. At the event, we were shocked to see nearly 500 people! It was claustrophobic!

5. Be punctual or say something about the delay

The invitation said that we had to be at the hotel 30 minutes before the event starts. The event didn’t start until 13 minutes after the scheduled time. 13 minutes delay might not be much for some people but if someone (like us) is on a tight schedule, it affects the connecting plans we have! There was no apology or info about the delay or how soon it can begin while we waited.

6. Let the host introduce himself/herself

I think it is very important for the on-stage host at the very least to give his/her name. The on-stage host at the event was a new guy. I never saw him before & I am still not sure who he is but I can guess who he might be. He went right into welcoming us & the chief guests.

7. Practice pronunciation of foreign names

When foreign names are involved, as a token of respect, learn to pronounce their name(s) correctly. There is no need to learn their language – just practice saying the name of the person who is invited as a speaker/chief guest.

8. Closing remarks

Once the agenda is fulfilled, it is necessary to let the attendees know what to expect next. In our case, at the end of the event there was a photo session (we were informed about it in the beginning) & a snack bar appeared magically in the hallway (no mention of food/snack being served in the invite or at the event). After photos & snacking, people walked away – end of event! No closing remarks, no thank you for coming, no see you at a future event, nothing!

9. Label food

In events where food is involved, it is highly important to put a note or a label saying what the food tray has. Amongst many other things, there were trays full of sandwiches. It was dimly lit, I was trying to figure out if it was vegetarian or not. In the end, I didn’t eat them. A lot of people are allergic to different things and food at events becomes dangerous if the person doesn’t know what’s in it. A mere mention of the name, lactose-free, gluten-free, contains nuts, etc would mean a more informed choice. Of course, one could totally not eat!

It all seemed as though they didn’t care much about the audience. I can’t help wondering how their event could be a success without an audience!

Do you have any experiences you would like to add? Are you an event organiser & would like to give your insights?


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