Did That Just Happen?

Photo Credit: Michael Carpenter Photography

If you are in the event industry we all have those “I can’t believe that just happened” stories.  This isn’t a post about how to plan or what to specifically do, but rather, a reflection on some of the craziest things that has happened working an event.

I know you have your own stories – and lots of them – and can relate.  For those new and just starting in the industry, these (or similar) stories shall happen to you, too, at some point.  And, for those who are possibly just working on one upcoming event for your company – prepare the best that you can and be ready for anything.

If you can think of it happening – it probably has or may just happen. 

Having a speaker cancel 30 minutes before needing to be on stage, the fire alarm being pulled forcing all of your guests to evacuate the hotel at 3:45am for a 7:30am conference start, an attendee having a heart attack in the middle of your exhibitor floor, live audio visual feed cutting out when one of the most senior military officers is of course speaking, an unanticipated ominous storm rolls through trapping guests to the area for an extended stay, rented generators suddenly not working in a middle of an outside formal event (even after you required the tech to test them several times beforehand!) or an upset vendor stalking an employee for not selecting and contracting them for their services at an event – all these situations were handled, but not exactly the best memories.

One of the most embarrassing (and slightly scary!) incidents that happened was to hear that the hotel where we booked a couple of our very influential and internationally well-known (without sharing names) speakers were staying experienced a severe domestic fight that started in the hallway and lead to gunfire in the outside parking lot below their windows. 

Now, this was a prominent and respected hotel property and to see how unrested the speakers appeared (and understandably!) and to hear they elected to not stay that extra night for the conference - even after offering to move them to another property and cover a lot of extras - was quite a blow  and something we could not of planned happening.  The positive was that they were not hurt, just very tired – but we knew we may never be able to book them again to speak.

We plan and plan – and I like to plan even more; but it only takes that one time to quickly learn and do everything you can to avoid a repeat incident ever again. 

So, what are some of your craziest memories working an event?