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Top 6 Event and Conference Mistakes

Ever so often friends share pieces of life and wisdom over a glass of wine.

Let us share some of the most memorable dunks and flunks that we have encountered during the full-of-adrenaline life in event organizing. Be it people, equipment or just cultural differences, mishaps make life memorable and a good story to tell.



A Star is Born

Not the 6th take on the famous Cinema remake, but a common scenario for on-site happenings. The MC or the Master of Ceremony – sometimes the Event Organizer – loses focus on what the event is really about and dives into stardom. And so we are no longer looking at a smooth delivery of a well designed show but at a mise-en-place of a star on the stage of corporate events.

It has happened once that the MC we hired thought he was a guest of honor instead of making the event happen. What a fun experience that was! You might know the feeling – having a lot of managers with no one to manage?

The other side of the coin is not desirable either. Not knowing who the organizer is, no one being there to shape and guide the event, feeling lost without any helping hand around?

Having a well balanced on-site presence and a coherent plan that all team abides by is the key to a balanced and structured event. Without surprises.

Surprise surprise

Funny thing, when we say ‘surprise’ we usually think of the jittery fun and happy-end ones, not at a dreadful situation. In event organizing we hate surprises because we know they can mean both things.

As such, we do our best not to have any kind of surprise. Because we like to deliver clean, on time, professional and polished events. So we have close to zero tolerance for anything that could go south. Anything and everything is pre-planned, pre-discussed, preset and pre-double-checked. An inside joke says we are kind of like a ‘SWAT meets Ghostbusters’ kind of team. Who says OCD can’t be a positive trait to look for when recruiting?

That’s not my name

I am Beatrice. Beatrice Ene. While Ene is not really the most common surname one could have, it is still quite easy to spell or use. However Beatrice should be more common and rather well represented in an international world of business.

Still, I have had at least a dozen “Sir”, a couple of Biatris, one or two Beatrix and a once-in-a-lifetime pin of Beat Rice Director since at that time I was – you guessed – a Director of sorts.

While a fun story to share, especially when handing out lists of conference participants, we must pay attention not to make ladies into gentlemen and vice-versa or not to downsize the title one has in the company, as well as, of course, not messing up names and surnames.

We once almost lost a client due to a cultural insult – that we had listed his LinkedIn title which had not been updated. The person was a south-east Asian and presenting him as a Sales Director instead of a Sales VP upset him and made us look like less the professionals we were. The other delegates could not know he did not respond to our solicitation of updated contact and title info so we took a smile-and-wave state of the art public apology and never printed lists without solid confirmations of updated titles.

HR Fails

It happens that we sometime need to add talent to our frantic universe. And we try and put out the most attractive yet serious job ad possible that also gives people the idea that they should feel free to even send their CV in, along the empty e-mail some of them send as a job application.

Joke aside, our ads did indeed mentioned an English only CV along with a not-an-empty-email to send it by. And even so we celebrated like it was a stellar success when someone sent a cover letter, CV, portfolio(!) in a clean, professional format.

Most fails were in writing, but we did get a few during the face to face interviews – see below:

  1. So what job is this again? I applied to several and forgot why I came here.
  2. You need to pay me triple because I know how to sell myself high.
  3. If I work as a contractor instead of an employee this means I never get paid, how can you do this to me? (!!!)
  4. The commute is so long, can I come to work maybe once per week?
  5. My CV has unicorns because I am a very creative person, a wizard if you will.

Hotel California

We work a lot with 5 star venues around the world. From hotel chains from the international names to local exquisite luxury places. And we take our time in negotiating and reviewing terms and conditions for our contracts. There were a few situations that remain in the dawn of time.

More chairs equals more people equals we get to overcharge you big time. We have an African story that ended up in an abusive overcharge of our credit card because we needed some extra chairs in the conference room, so our delegates could sit without embracing each other.

You cannot hire our conference room unless you also get 30 hotel nights with our colleagues at Accommodation. Uhum. Sure.

We will send in personnel that cannot speak English. Of course. You can practice sign language together.

Fun. Or not so much.

Café de Cloud

Never assume a flip-chart, a lighter or a roll-up are common items. They can get you to testify to the police or to miss a flight. Be careful what you bring in your luggage because a lot of items can prove to be dangerous or even banned from a carry-on.

Never wait until the last moment to use a restroom up in the air. Turbulence, a jammed door or even the flight attendant’s duty free trolley can block your way to a safe side. You simply do not need this kind of nervousness.

Also, get aisle seats for every long segment, they are life changing.

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