Five Ways to Flop Your Next Event

If you have ever wondered how to flop your next event, you’ve come to a right place. There are many things you can do to do it successfully. This list offers 5 quick and most commonly used techniques that will ensure your event is a successful failure.


Failure Success road sign

If you have ever wondered how to flop your next event, this is the right article to read. There are many things you can do to do it successfully. This list offers 5 quick and most commonly-used techniques that will ensure your event is a successful failure. If, for unknown reason, you do want to make your event successful, each item follows with a quick tip on how to do just that. The list aims to address all types of events, but depending on the event type, size, budget, and a plethora of other little things, some of these might not be suitable for your event. Do pay attention to these, though. You might do an event, in the future, that might need some failure.

Use Social Media Ineffectively

This wouldn’t be on the list 10 years ago. However, unless you time travel and plan events in the past this is an important way to flop your event. Most people can’t imagine a life without social media, even though most lived it not too long ago. The main reason it became so important is that it became part of a daily (or so) routine for people. Back in the day the only way to tap into that routine was to buy expensive ads either on TV, radio, print publications, and other types of ad space. So the power of your marketing dollars relied heavily on people actually paying attention to erroneous ads, which a lot of them tend to block out.

Social media takes marketing to a whole new level. It makes your event relevant and peer-approved, for the most part. Not tapping into such an incredible source of marketing is the best way to fail as an event planner. Social media is a digital form of word of mouth advertising. People share it, rate it, comment on it, and write about it, and so on. They personalize it in a way. It matters to them more.

Do you use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, or other social media sites? If your answer is no to at least one website, go ahead and slap yourself. If, in an unlikely event, you’ve never heard of any of the websites mentioned in the question, please, go ahead and quit now.

One of the best things about social media marketing is the price. It’s free (in a nutshell). You don’t have to pay them. The only cost of social media is actually doing it right: Time and Knowledge. You do have to spend time to use it effectively and you have to know how to use it in the first place. This is why it would be a good idea to hire a social media consultant (or guru, if you prefer that term). He or she will leverage the power of social media to increase attendance and reach out to potential vendors/sponsors.

The question is, would you use a free marketing opportunity before the age of Internet? Of course, so why not use this one?

TIP: In case you want to make your event successful. Hiring a social media consultant might not be within your budget. You shouldn't be discouraged. Many students in marketing, PR, or other majors are looking for internships. They use social media constantly, so tap into their knowledge and skills. A lot of students will accept unpaid internships, but if you can afford a small stipend do reward them. Especially if they do a good job and you see results.

Don’t Use Multimedia

If your event website or page doesn’t have any photos and/or videos, you’re doing an awesome job at ensuring your failure. Keep up the good work.

People are always trying to validate the importance of an event: They look for reviews, photos of past events, videos, and other articles. This gives you an opportunity to show off your event and be biased. Not every single event is successful (yours won’t be either if you follow the failure suggestions in this article). But just because something happened in the planning stages or during the event to make it a failure doesn't mean there'll be no photos or videos where people are smiling, listening attentively, and having fun. Lie? Not really. Just because you flopped this event doesn't mean you'll flop the next event; hence, you’ll try harder and emphasize good points about this event.

Why might you want video? YouTube videos attract a broader audience and engages them. It’s always nice to see a video intro for an event on their website. In 1-2 minutes they'll know what the event is about and what it’s like. Do forget to get video testimonials to fail!

TIP: The biggest thing event planners miss is a professional photographer and/or videographer. Professionals know how to show your event in the best light. They are not working for a newspaper, they are working for you. So they will make sure they get you photos that will make your event look as if it was in a palace instead of a hotel conference room, people are happy even though they might be laughing at your mistakes, people are falling asleep from exhaustive educational sessions instead of falling asleep because they’re bored. Same applies for a videographer. In addition, if your budget doesn’t allow for a pro, look into local universities to get a student who’s an emerging pro to do the work. Sometimes they’re better than some pros.

Do Have an Ugly Website

If your website looks like 1995 Yahoo Geocities website, then you’re on the right track to Failuredom. This ties in with a previous point, multimedia. There are thousands of free, beautiful website templates online. There are thousands of inexpensive templates as well. Nobody should have an event website or page look like it was made in the early days of the Internet with nothing but text.

When they visit your event’s website/page, you're making a first impression, which everyone knows is very important. When you go out in public or to a party, you dress up and try to look your best. So making your event look as if it came out of a horror movie (so to speak) is a great way to increase your bounce rate (visitors leaving website).

TIP: You can easily remedy this problem by creating a WordPress website and downloading a very nice and appealing free theme (template).

Don’t Offer Special Room Pricing for Your Attendees

People appreciate low travel and lodging costs, so not negotiating with a hotel for a lower room price is a surefire way to cut your attendance in half. This is especially true in this economy, where more and more people find themselves jobless.

It’s a lot easier to negotiate lower room prices if your event takes place at the hotel’s meeting space. However, you can still leverage the sales department to cut their pricing by offering them to be the official hotel for your event. Plus, if your event has a good record of attendance in numbers, use that. Or do nothing and fail, yet again.

TIP: Check out contract negotiations article to get some tips on how to get lower room prices.

Don’t Offer Early, Early Bird Registration Price

Many event planners that manage reoccurring events do this, or actually don't do this. If your event will take place again next year, for example, why wouldn’t you offer attendees a discount to attend next year?

It’s a good practice to know your event location and time for at least 2 events in advance. So if you plan an annual event, knowing next year’s event and the following year would be in your best interest. (Getting venues far in advance locks them into a lower price and gives you more flexibility at choosing the venue.)

So, offer your attendees at this year’s event an early, early bird discount for registering right now. Think of it as pre-ordering a reservation. Many people will take advantage of the discount, if they liked your event, and pre-register on the spot. It might not be many, but at least it will give you a bit of an insight on how many people liked your current event enough to want to attend the next one. Don’t be too critical if not many sign up, as there are other factors involved too.

TIP: If your future event's price will change, offer them to sign up for an email alert when prices will be available and offer them a discount code.

There are a lot more. But these are just some of the major ways you can ensure you fail as an event planner. If you’re an event planner who does any of these, humor aside, take the time to remedy these problems. Your next event depends on it. It doesn’t take a lot of time and effort. Delegate tasks, find interns, and make sure you’re keeping an eye on these when you plan an event.


  1. I agree with all points, but especially the social media focus. While I have a FB business page, LinkedIn profile, and blog, I know that I’ve only scratched the surface. I also believe that it’s not simply enough to set up these accounts – for them to be effective at all they need to be managed/updated regularly. Admittedly, this has been an ongoing challenge for me, but I really liked your idea of looking into internships. Great article – thanks so much for sharing!!


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