Managing events means you get to meet a lot of people. And not all of them have a thorough understanding of how the event production business works. These misperceptions can be amusing.
“The money is awesome!”
“It’s so glamorous!”
“Lights are lights, right?”
“Can I can bring my own sound guy? He was a DJ in high school.”
But sometimes, these misperceptions are really business critical. Sure, it’d be nice if you’re non-event planner friends knew what you did. But that’s a different kind education for a different day. For now, let’s focus on some common myths about producing events that may be floating among your colleagues and clients.
The truth is: these types of myths can be more troubling. They can cost you work if allowed to persist. Here are 4 that crop up again and again. Address them, blow them up, and get back to growing your event business.
1. The lowest bid is the best option
Sometimes. But it is more likely that this low bid is not accounting for some key component of the scope of work.
When you are accepting bids from vendors, be thorough. Make sure that the work and any contingencies you expect to see are accurately expressed in the estimate. Once you’re on site and committed, you’ve no choice but to pony up the extra money. Either by going back to the client or pulling out of your own pocket. Suddenly, the cheapest doesn’t seem so cheap. Especially when you add in the stress. These tend to be the biggest line items that come back to bite you when a bid is unrealistically low.
Labor was underestimated
Low-paid, unqualified labor, resulting in missed deadlines, overruns, and overtime
No built-in contingencies
Cheap materials that break on site
Common additions that aren’t addressed up front (e.g. trucking, prep time)
The same goes when drafting your own event proposals for clients. Don’t be tempted to arbitrarily come in with a lowball bid. Be realistic about what you can do and what it will cost. If anything, better to overestimate and deliver under. Use your bid process to educate the client. Point out the key elements of a bid, any bid that he or she should be looking for.
2. Producing an event in 1 day is cheaper than producing it in 2 days
Dig a little deeper into this myth. What happens when you eliminate a production day? Well, the positives seem pretty clear. One less day means renting the venue is cheaper. And one less day means a reduction in labor costs.
Or does it? A little math quickly debunks this thinking. Suppose you’ve budgeted for your install a 10 person crew, working two 8-hour days. Using the national average of general labor rates for exhibitions and events, that’s 160 hours x $101.75/hr = $16,280 for your labor.
If you want to do it in one day, you’re going to need more labor, right? You can’t push back the start of the event. Here’s where it gets tricky. Basic thinking would suggest you double the workforce. But at minimum, that would keep labor costs the same. And it assumes that every bit of work done over two days can be done in a vacuum, unconnected to or affected by any other tasks. It’s basically saying that every assigned task can be done twice as fast with an extra set of hands, without regard to additional communication needs, onboarding new crew, or fixed standing time that cannot be adjusted (e.g. lx focus, sound levels).
In all likelihood, you’ll need to add in overtime and immediately, you’ve shot your initial labor estimate. You’ve also overcrowded the space, increased everyone’s stress, and left ZERO room for error. Even if you pull it off, ask yourself: is that the way you want to run your business?
3. Riders are absurd and unrealistic
You’ve heard the infamous Van Halen brown M&M story? Interestingly, if you take David Lee Roth at his word, it is the perfect example of why riders are necessary. The purpose of a good rider is to help the venue staff and event planner assist in putting on the best show possible. Forget candy. This is about audience safety and execution. Event managers can rely on riders to establish a base set of needs a performer has in order to do a show. It saves a lot of meeting and investigation time if your talent has taken the effort to lay out tech specs for you.
And just because you can’t fulfill some of the requirements listed doesn’t mean you’re in for a world of hurt. Got a different sound system than what they’re looking for? Fresnels instead of Par cans? Don’t fret. Communicate. 9 times out of 10 it won’t be a problem and that 1 time it is is probably for a pretty darn good reason (at this point, you should probably just check out Mr. Lee Roth’s autobiography).
4. Event tech will solve all of your problems
Oh, if only that were the case! The truth is, the event tech of today and tomorrow will only be as good as the people you have managing it. So first things first: you’ve got to hire some kick-ass managers (if it’s just you, I’m assuming you’re doing whatever you need to be awesome as a team of one). Then you’ve got to collectively ask some basic questions.
What is the challenge or opportunity you’re facing?
This could be anything from scheduling and logistics, to registration and ticketing, to audience engagement, to client reporting and returns. There are tech solutions for all of these. Don’t start adopting some whiz-bang stuff before knowing what you need.
What are the potential solutions to your problem or opportunity?
FACT: this should include potentially NOT adopting any new technology. Identifying solutions should be broad and inclusive. You should have a clear sense of how each solution could work, how it could integrate with your existing structure, and how it would be managed.
Which solution is right for me?
Seems obvious but you’ve got to actually pull the trigger and commit. It’s hard to know exactly how any solution will truly benefit your company until you put it to the test, try to break it, gather some data, and report your learning. As a company that makes event management software, I can tell you that the more you directly engage with event tech providers during your consideration and discovery process, the better you’ll be able to find something that truly fits your needs.
What do you think? Myths busted? As an event manager, you’re often in the hot seat for debunking such fallacies. They come at you from all directions; clients, vendors, other managers, younger professionals. While some are frivolous, they are ones that can get in the way of good event production. Focus on these and watch your client relationships and your business take off.
What other myths do you hear when managing events? Share them with us in the comments below.