EventLand’s brand new podcast series, Event Horror Stories, hosted by Marian Volkwyn, aims to be transparent and humanize the events industry by sharing real-life event stories. No-holds-barred – we want to share the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In our second installment of EventLand’s podcast series, powered by InEvent, we invited Beth Hernandez, a California-based event manager and entrepreneur of Meeting Nerd, to share real event horror stories. “Event planners are uniquely qualified to talk about horror stories when it comes to things that happen on the job,” jokes Beth.
In this episode, she shared with us the importance of breaking barriers, being true to yourself, and, of course, planning incredible events.
Listen to the full episode:
Beth has been in the events industry for 11 years now, and Meeting Nerd has been in existence for three years. Currently, Meeting Nerd is a corporate and non-profit events agency. Their sweet spot is planning 3-5 day conferences for about 700 people, with the virtual component lasting 1-2 days.
Beth describes herself as a passionate event manager with a knack for creative problem-solving. In fact, creative problem solving is one of her industry secrets to successfully handling event horror stories.
Recurring events usually run smoothly, as event managers thoroughly understand the client, the event brief, and their business objectives. To Beth’s dismay, this was not the case in this particular event.
One of Beth’s recurring events included an offsite dinner, but the venue needed to change to accommodate more people since the program has grown. Since the venue required transportation, Beth required a shuttle service to transport their attendees to the dinner and back to the accommodation after.
Being in the industry for years, Beth had a shuttle company that she frequently used in situations such as this. They were vetted and reputable, and Beth knew their quality of service based on her personal experience. But when the bus arrived, it reeked.
On top of the unpleasant smell, only one bus arrived instead of two.
Find out how Beth and her team at Meeting Nerd managed to find a solution in “The Silver Lining of Event Planning”:
What Beth learned from this event horror story
Communicate to understand
“When you have a relationship with people and companies for a long time, the way I did with the bus company, when I called, I didn’t even call to complain. I called to ask what happened,” explains Beth.
Don’t fixate on one job
According to Beth’s experience, “your job can start as planning and executing an event, then it pivots into fixing a problem and in my case it extended to making my client feel better.”
Think on your feet
In this case, Beth had to find a way to get their attendees back from the restaurant because between the stinking bus and the broken down bus, the coaches were now no longer an option. “We created Uber codes that were sent directly to our attendees’ apps so that people could get an Uber back home if they didn’t want to walk home, which most people opted to do,” recalls Beth.
Don’t fall on your sword
Beth looks back on herself as a young event planner: “I think how I would have made an announcement, apologizing – and with this incident, I saw that people were laughing about it. Some people hadn’t even noticed, so only a minority of people had experienced the poop bus fiasco. It was just a minor glitch in the entire event.”
Don’t let ego get in the way
As a planner, you want things to go according to the plan, but sometimes that is not realistic. “Clarify the business objective, and as long as you reach that, don’t get married to the plans. Accept that sometimes things don’t go as planned. Nurture the plan and then let it go when you get on site. Get ready to change the plan to Plan B, C, and D,” advises Beth.
This episode of Event Horror Stories was brought to you by InEvent. Check out Episode 1, where we spoke to Courtney Stanley on The adventures of being an event planner and emcee: Event Horror Stories [Episode 1].
Tune in for more podcast episodes by EventLand, by following EventLand on Spotify.