Last Updated on October 7, 2021
Not every event management pitfall you’ll encounter is the result of a bad vendor, a shifty partner, failing equipment, or a lazy volunteer. Sometimes, the problem isn’t with you or the event at all – it’s with the person who’s hired you. Everyone is going to deal with a difficult client at some point in their career, and it’s important that you be prepared for some of the issues you may encounter.
Here are a few of the biggest client-side problems you’ll run into in the event management field, and how you can deal with them. Make sure you familiarize yourself with all the items on this list – you’re bound to encounter at least one of them sooner or later.
Note that I’m drawing on some of my experience as a freelancer as well here; the two fields are actually a lot closer to one another than you’d expect.
“I Don’t Want To Sign A Contract”
We’ll start with a pretty obvious one.
If you’re approached by a client who’s unwilling (or unable) to sign a contract for your services, the solution is simple: walk away. If they aren’t willing to commit to a written agreement, there’s a good chance they’re going to give you trouble down the road– no matter how much they say they’re willing to pay you (or how prestigious they may be). Verbal contracts are generally bad business; if you don’t have in writing what you’re going to do for them (and how much they’re going to pay you), then there’s nothing stopping them from leaving you in the lurch.
Now, I’m not saying that this is likely to happen – only that it’s better if you don’t run the risk of having to deal with it in the first place.
“I’m Not Really Sure How Much Any Of This Costs”
As an event planner, you should be no stranger to budget constraints and concerns. No one – and I mean no one – likes spending any more money than they absolutely have to. Unfortunately, this means that you’re likely to encounter at least a few clients who don’t offer up enough cash for you to accomplish what they want you to do.
This one’s actually incredibly easy to address, thankfully. Simply have a sitdown with your client and plan out exactly how much money they’ll need for the event assuming you don’t get any discounts. Explain the financial side of things to them, and more often than not, they’ll cooperate.
“Our Target Audience Is Everyone”
Here’s another one that I’m sure plenty outside event management have heard. Your client wants you to run an awesome conference…but they have no idea who they’re looking to attract, or why. Again, this is something you can hash out by sitting down with them. Work with them to figure out exactly who their brand is likely to serve, and design the event based around that.
“I Want To Plan An Event In Two Weeks”
Once again, this is something that can generally be addressed by offering an explanation to the client of what your job involves. Try to explain to them that events take time and effort to plan, and they can’t just be pulled off overnight. Most people will understand – and those that don’t aren’t really worth working for.
“By The Way, I Can’t Pay You”
This is why contracts are important. Assuming you’ve signed one, you might be in for some legal unpleasantness. But hey, at least it’s better than not getting paid at all, right?
There's more from where that came from...
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If something goes wrong at one of your events – which will happen eventually, no matter how skilled a planner you are – you need to make sure that you’ve got your legal bases covered.