“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” Spanish philosopher George Santayana warned.
True enough, there’s a lot that event planners can learn from history’s biggest blunders, including how to avoid repeating catastrophic mistakes.
It took 177 years to construct the Tower of Pisa, but only 10 years for it to start leaning.
All the blood, sweat and tears put into building epic events is pointless if the foundation isn’t sound. Is the location accessible to attendees or will flights be overbooked before registration is complete? Does the hotel block reservation guarantee the number of rooms needed or does the contract “hold” date expire too soon? Don’t get distracted by the finishing flourishes and filigrees. Start with the basic building blocks of smart meeting and event planning by focusing on the fundamentals, brick by brick.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s driver made a wrong turn that led straight to his assassin.
That single transportation goof was the unfortunate catalyst for two World Wars, disasters that may have been averted if a savvy travel planner had provided accurate directions. Meeting logistics are more than registration tables and flip-charts. Distribute clearly-marked site maps and create custom “blue dot” GPS apps to make sure your attendees know their way around. And help keep groups together with well-located rooms. A mega-property can provide a world of fantastic amenities, but if widely spread apart attendees can’t even find the shuttle stops for a 20-minute ride to meeting spaces, they’re likely to be late or lost.
The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor when not a single US aircraft carrier was in port.
Timing is everything. Your boss’s favorite ski resort may have dedicated convention and event venues, but think twice before booking your winter sports expo in August when rates are attractive but attendees can’t concentrate on ski gear demos because their minds are on golf. However, if August is when you need a refreshingly cool spot for a summer wellness retreat or a family-friendly conference with wagon rides and cowboy cookouts, you’re right on time.
The Titanic didn’t have the life boats it needed because they boasted that it was “unsinkable.”
Instead of just rearranging the deck chairs when events go wrong, make sure you have emergency action plans in place for all contingencies. Unexpected heatwave making everyone hot under the collar? No problem. Good thing you have Super Soakers for some team building fun at the hotel’s private pool that you had the foresight to reserve, just in case. Uh oh, the HR director’s not pleased with the impromptu wet T-shirt contest? Cue the hotel’s Popsicle carts to help everyone keep their cool. It never hurts to have a Plan C in case Plan B goes awry.
The Beatles were rejected by Decca Records because they thought the band would never sell.
Nobody could have predicted that the Fab Four would be the biggest band in music history, but the out of touch record exec who said “no” to the Beatles made the biggest mistake of his career by wearing blinders. Event planners need to actively stay on top of new trends and be open-minded about bold ideas. Reconsider unconventional spaces and off-the-beaten-path destinations to small cities and rural towns. Taking the long and winding road less traveled means that CVBs and hotels will work eight days a week to make everything alright.