Kelly McGillivray from The Squad Creative Event Management Company discusses how bringing events to life is fun and adrenaline works wonders when it kicks in, but the communication and production elements have to knit together seamlessly. She provides ten tips to help lower event manager stress levels.
1. Planning permissions
When working in Johannesburg, double check the venue owner has the necessary City of Joburg permissions to host events. Honesty and trust are paramount when dealing with establishment managers. If you have any instinct something is ‘off’ then find another venue or it may become your problem on the day.
2. Risk assessment
Endless Events have a thorough article on planning a safe event, which includes identifying risks, people related hazards and risk control – the latter involving removing any potential danger and/or the use of safety gear. Part of the risk assessment should include venue security and parking.
3. Security and parking
Hire additional venue security as you begin setting up; this is important in terms of equipment insurance etc. Try and have ample secure parking, preferably free, but if there’s not enough then give people the option of paid parking. Don’t underestimate the risk of cars being stolen from a secure parking lot. We’ve had a thief trying to get in by pretending to be one of the guests. If there is a chance of this, give the parking attendants a guest list to check against.
4. Public Relations
There are often different agencies working on the same event and things such as checking the PR invitation list can slip as it’s not part of your scope of work. But at the end of the day you are answerable at the event – so jump in and assist with your expertise – you don’t want to have to Rent-A-Crowd (it has been known to happen).
We like giving small businesses a chance and trying new catering companies is part of this. But be warned that using someone new for event food and beverage is a risk. Start by getting references, checking them and asking for information within your network. Next is the menu tasting and finding out where the produce is sourced. Also double check their staff skills – for example, whether they can open wine bottles and pour properly – this has been a surprise issue for us before. Lastly, ensure your caterer understands that no dietary requirement is too small to get right for a guest.
Not having a backup generator can successfully derail your event and make it memorable for all the wrong reasons. Trust me on this, have a generator on-site even when there’s no threat of load shedding. Anything can happen, and if you haven’t made an alternative plan, it usually does.
Most venues have Wi-Fi but much like the power supply, it can go down. Having your own Wi-Fi gives you peace of mind, whether it’s for general attendee use or in case of venue issues. Remember to choose your password carefully in case your client asks you for the back-up Wi-Fi password – ‘smellyfeet’ is not ideal.
8. Power Banks, charging stations and card machines
Whether for crew or guests, having a charging station and power banks on hand will keep people happy and connected. Because they’re portable and in-demand they tend to go ‘walk about’, so mark them clearly and hope that deters any light fingers. Having a card machine on site for certain types of events is very useful when things need to be purchased.
9. Bad weather
Weather worries keep event managers awake at night. Aside from having marquees and covers on standby, it’s the little things count – think umbrellas, blankets and shawls and don’t underestimate the warmth of a few strategically placed standing gas heaters.
10. Tool Box and other necessities
A well stocked tool box is an event manager’s super power. Aside from invaluable things such as gaffer tape and cable ties, have perks to keep your crew refreshed and energised – I love DCT lip ice, Turbovite (gives a kick!) and plenty of sparkling water.