Thursday, November 12, 2015

Blackfish Backlash: Sea-ing Your Event Through the World of Problems

Your event isn’t going to plan and now you have to face the music. What are you going to do? As strong-minded individuals, we never want to admit that we’ve made a mistake, but it’s how we handle the situation that really matters! Don’t believe us? Well, take SeaWorld for instance.

Just this week, SeaWorld released a statement announcing their plans to make major changes to their orca show in San Diego. Instead of the tricks and jumps you’re used to seeing, Shamu is now going to be an educational exhibit. This change certainly didn’t happen overnight, and it probably wouldn't have happened without the pressure from protest groups and the documentary, Blackfish. But before the change, Seaworld went to great lengths to distance themselves from the reports, like posting photos on Twitter of the “mother-calf bond,” purchasing full-page newspaper ads, and manipulating the public opinion polls, instead of just addressing the issues. Not a good way to handle problems if you ask us!

Which is why we’re here with a couple suggestions on how to handle and address event problems, before any Blackfish Backlash happens. And, yes, we know you usually don’t incorporate a show with fish into your events, but there are valuable lessons to learn from SeaWorld.

What To Do When There’s a Sea of Problems:

1. Stay Calm

You’re a professional—remind yourself of that every day! As the professional in the situation, keeping calm during a stressful moment is extremely important. The more you can rationalize and think through the problem, the faster you’ll arrive at a solution. Another reason to remain calm is so you don’t throw your clients and their guests into a panic. They’ve already got enough on their plate, so don’t make things more difficult.

2. Keep Control

Your clients hired you to plan and manage the event so they don’t have to worry about anything on their big day. When a problem goes wrong, take control of the situation. The more in charge you are, the more contained the problem will be. Your focus should be on finding the solution, not passing the burden onto someone else.

3. Bring Backup

We have backup plans, backup cars, and backup for just about everything—so do you have backup equipment and supplies? Event professionals of every variety need to bring backups with them to the event. If you’re a DJ make sure you have extra extension cords or surge protectors; if you’re a florist bring extra flowers for that just in case bouquet. It’s a proactive measure you can take to prevent problems before they happen.

4. Great Staff

Of course, you can’t be everywhere, all the time, which why having a knowledgeable staff is incredibly important. When you’re helping your clients, your staff can be solving problems and keeping everything running smoothly. We suggest teaching your staff how to handle problems by using scenario training. Give your staff members a situation in which there is a problem, see how well they solve it, and then offer your suggestions at the end.

You’ll never know all the challenges or difficulties you’ll face during an event, but we hope you don’t swim away from the problem. Accept that mistakes happens and that stuff will go wrong. It’s the first proactive step you can take.

What problems have you encountered at an event and how did you handle it? Share with us in the comment section below!

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