By Shari Zatman | EVENT PRODUCER, EVENT DESIGNER, INDUSTRY EDUCATOR
More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the event and hospitality industry is suffering a severe staffing shortage.
As a professional event planner and educator with more than 20 years of experience, I encounter this reality with every event that I execute nowadays. I am constantly being told by vendors and venues that they are short-staffed and that we’ll need to work within the confines and parameters of what their staff is capable of doing.
OK, I understand this—but our industry needs event personnel who are creative and problem solvers to navigate these limitations. This isn’t the time to give up or say, “That’s not my job.” Instead, professionals across the events industry need to band together and come up with solutions together.
These obstacles are what motivated me to create a training and coaching program for event personnel across the U.S. so they can learn how to tackle some of these challenges.
Here are some examples:
Situation: You work as an in-house event coordinator for a venue. An outside vendor has been hired by a client to bring in rental items, and the vendor has been scheduled to return after the event to remove its items. Due to staff shortages with the vendor, now no one is available to return to pick up the items immediately after the event. That’s a problem because the space needs to be cleaned up right away for another event. What do you do?
Solution: If you encounter this scenario, my recommendation would be to utilize your own venue staff to move the items to an adjacent location until the vendor is able to come back to pick up its stuff. Sure, this may be inconvenient and put additional work on your own staff. However, it’s important to address the needs that your venue has and think of how you are going to efficiently solve them.
Situation: You are an independent event planner. You have provided a CAD to a venue—along with notes—regarding what is needed for your setup (including tables, chairs, etc.) from the venue. You’ve also discussed where things should be placed. You arrive at the venue and see that how things have been set up in the space is incorrect. You ask the venue representatives to please move things so they align with the intended plan, but they tell you they don’t have any staff available to help you with that. What do you do?
Solution: It’s great if you are physically able to move items yourself, but many people may not be able to do that. In those cases, consider asking any of your own contracted vendors or staff who have the physical capability to move items around with your direction.
Situation: You’re setting up tables and chairs for an event. You recognize that some of the items are in less-than-ideal condition. Some chair pads aren’t sticking to the seats. Plus, you notice that some of the other items are dirty and need to be cleaned or repaired. What do you do?
Solution: I advise to always keep an “emergency kit” on hand. This should include duct tape and cleaning supplies, among other items. In this case, you can use your duct tape to secure the chair pads. Duct tape is also great for taping up tables that may be splintered or worn.
This is the time to adopt a can-do attitude and seek out solutions, not excuses. Proper event personnel training—and cross-training of staff—can help. Contact PerfectlyPlannedByShari.com to learn more about how we can help with training and coaching.
Shari Zatman is an event producer with more than two decades of experience. She owns two companies: Perfectly Planned by Shari, which focuses on luxury events (like weddings and mitzvahs), and Eventful Event Producers, which focuses on corporate and non-profit events. Her latest venture is event training, coaching and consulting for event and hospitality professionals. She created a handbook and seminars to work with them to identify problem areas, create solutions and share best practices.