Event planners have too many horror stories to tell for one article, so here are more nightmare scenarios that will keep you up at night.
All event planners have one.
That one memory they never want to relive and even shudder at the mere thought of. Some of them are downright horrifying to anyone at all familiar with the industry.
But, just like most of your favorite tales, there’s a lesson to be learned within each.
If you didn’t catch the first round of horror stories from our event planners–or you were just too scared to finish them–you can always read them here (if you dare).
Let the Right Ones In
I once worked an event where the registration team (not Experient, thankfully) accidentally printed out a ticketed lunch for EVERYONE–almost 1,300 people–instead of the 650 who were registered.
We didn’t know there had been an error until our lead event manager noticed that the line for lunch was getting longer than it should
Since the tickets were already distributed and people were in line, we had to go with it. We alerted the catering staff, and they did their best to feed as many people as possible, including hot and salad options.
The convention center was fantastic and ensured everyone was fed with a minimal wait time–even though some guests’ first choice wasn’t a salad, as that’s all that was left.
In the end, everyone was able to eat, we worked on the billing later, and we all gave the executive chef a giant hug for saving the day.
During a 2018 program, we were two hours from the close of the event and started celebrating at the final dinner reception. It was a packed house, and there were no empty seats (yay for our guarantees!).
As the guests enjoyed their dinners, I noticed a small group of people—half a dozen or so— march into the ballroom. They passed by the security guard we hired (who happened to be facing the wrong direction playing on his phone) in a single file line.
I knew instantly we had protesters.
They continued to march up to and on the stage as I ran out of the room to grab the security guard for help, speed dialing our event manager for backup support. For minutes, the group of protesters chanted on the stage, disrupting the entire sponsored event. Security watched and did nothing. Thankfully the group decided to leave the stage and exited the convention center to protest on the streets with a larger group and signs.
While we couldn’t do much in the moment, we had to take action immediately after. Not only was the sponsorship deal in jeopardy, but our guests’ safety was compromised.
That night—and several weeks following—our event planners had some in-depth conversations about the failed security and what we could improve moving forward.
The most significant changes happened during the 2019 event. We had productive conversations about guest safety and the prevention of protesters at future events. Strict badge rules were put in place, marketed, and enforced onsite. With a great security partner and proper preparation, the next year’s event was a success!
Multiple guests shared how they appreciated the security, felt safer, and believed that the organization took appropriate actions to care for the overall event, members, and guests.
The Disney World Horror
Years ago, I was managing an event at Disney World’s Coronado Springs. At this event, it felt as if anything that could go wrong did.
Let’s start with the fight that happened between a guest’s mistress and his wife. The guest brought his mistress along for the conference, and she was going to hang out at Disney World while he was in sessions.
His wife thought it would be romantic to surprise him by showing up the next day. The surprise was on her.
We called the police after a fight erupted outside the guest’s sleeping room, arresting one of them for attempted assault and disorderly conduct.
In another situation, the client instructed me to order food for less than half of the attendees for one of the meal functions. After that event was over, the banquet captain called me and alerted me that our guests were basically “dumpster diving” because we had run out of food.
To top off this event of horrors, we hired Disney characters to meet and greet the guests as they entered the Expo Hall. Everything was going great until an SOS came over the radio waves with a cry “Goofy is down! I repeat, Goofy is down. I need water now!”
It Came From Under the Escalator
On the first day of a five-day show, the main convention center escalator that carried guests up two stories quit working.
The venue told us it would be fixed later in the day, but it wasn’t. They told us the same thing the next day. And the next day. And the day after that, five days in all.
After persistent follow-up, making them aware of our dissatisfaction, they agreed to our demand of $20,000 off the final bill.
This concession made the client very happy, and our attendees left the conference more physically fit than when they arrived!