Planners Pay Attention To Things You Can’t Control
By Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM
As planners, we’re wired to want things to go perfectly. Planners pay attention for months on a single event and focus intensely on all the details. Every meal is expertly planned, housing is checked and double checked, name badges are proofed and arranged. No program details go unnoticed.
Sometimes we’re so busy focusing, we forget to look up and take note of what’s happening in the world around us. Our events aren’t just affected by what we put into place. They are tremendously reliant on cooperation from the world in which they operate. Sometimes those elements are in our control, many times they’re not. We need to be ready to react when the unplanned happens.
Planners Pay Attention
Most of us would never schedule an event on Christmas or Thanksgiving. But there are many cultures that celebrate similar holidays that, because we’re unaware of them, we schedule over. This can frustrate attendees and cause resentment. It’s our job to look beyond U.S. federal holidays and get to know the global audience with which we work. Know your demographic and make sure you’re sensitive to their cultures, customs and holidays. If they are important enough to be at the event, you need to consider and accommodate their needs whenever possible.
DIWALI is also known as the Festival of Lights.
When going abroad, find out if you’re traveling during a holiday, vacation season, rainy season or whatever outside influence a local would know that you may not. Just like ours, other countries have holidays that curtail transportation services, reduce staffing and slow traffic, so be aware. There may also be holidays that are state specific. Even if you’re planning within the United States, don’t assume the holiday question is moot. Do you know what Diwali is or when it’s celebrated? How about Casimir Pulaski Day? (Answers: Diwali is a five-day festival celebrated by Hindus usually in October or November. Casimir Pulaski Day is an Illinois holiday observed the first Monday of March in memory of the Polish-born Revolutionary War cavalry officer.)
Know what’s happening in your hotel on your dates. What other groups have booked space? Is a high school basketball tournament being played in town, for example, and is your hotel hosting groups of teams or fans? If so, be prepared for late-night giggling and running through the halls. This happened when I attended someone else’s event and it’s not conducive to a good night’s sleep.
Find out if you are staying in a union property and when the contract is up. You don’t want to be in hotel when some or all of the staff goes on strike.
Weather, although unpredictable, has patterns. Make sure you know about hurricane, dry and tornado seasons and the like. We can avoid putting events in the eye of the storm if we know some basic facts.
Politics impact events more often than you realize. Is there a political event happening near your dates? A march, a convention, a visit from a diplomat or dignitary? If meeting in New York, is the United Nations in session? Is it an election year?
Doing your homework will ensure your event is memorable for all the right reasons. And while we can’t control everything, when planners pay attention we can at least add a few more critical details to the list of things we do take into consideration when planning.
For a list of resources that’ll help you avoid scheduling mishaps, email me at Christy.Lamagna@strategic.events
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