Thinking 3 steps ahead as an event planner

What's your contingency plan?


The key to being a problem solver as an event planner or venue owner/operator is having the ability to anticipate what could happen next—before something even happens—and know how to respond.

But to be able to think on your feet and solve issues, before and as they arise, requires industry knowledge, experience, and training.

Here are some ways to prepare for issues that may come up in the future:

Think ahead

What’s an issue you could face at an event?  Based on the specifics of your planning, strive to anticipate where you could have obstacles. For example, if you know you are planning an event outdoors, be sure to plan ahead for what you will do in case of inclement weather.

Anticipate issues

Next, think about how to handle various issues if they arise. For example, if you are expecting in advance to be short-staffed to service an event, think about different ways to respond: Are you able to hire more support? Or can you pull staff from elsewhere to cover your needs? Rather than simply accepting the fact that you could be short-staffed, do the advanced work to be prepared with how you could fill in those gaps if needed.

Develop solutions

While it’s important to think about how to respond to issues, do you know how to actually implement your contingency plan? That’s where industry knowledge and experience help. If you’re new to a role, lean on those more experienced to ask what steps they would take to put a plan into action.

Document procedures

Track contingency plans, what worked and what didn’t. Documentation provides a reference to use in future situations. That way, if the same issue comes up again, people will know how to respond. Plus, you can use the documentation to help cross-train personnel.

Overall, training and preparedness are really the difference between being able to know how to think ahead and develop contingency planning vs. panicking when an obstacle arises. When you know how to handle an issue, you are able to manage it with a level head and more successful outcome.


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.


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