Last-minute requests can be both a blessing and a curse for event planners. They can help fill out your calendar and boost your cash flow when business is slow. You can pick up some really creative events on short notice. I was once asked to pull together an Amazing Race inspired event with helicopter, limousines, horses and powerboats. It was one of my favorite corporate events.
On the flip side, it can be a lot more work to plan an event on short notice than an event for which there is more more lead time. You may find that the client's ideal resorts and meeting venues are booked solid. You'll search longer for available space and the client will likely end up paying top dollar for an event venue that may not be an optimal fit. While it is possible to get sell-off or last-minute specials for leisure travel, for group travel, bargain airfares sell out early and it's not easy to get a block of seats at a competitive rate.
What's an event planner to do?
- Have an event planning checklist ready to go with questions that you can ask new client to pinpoint their needs.
- Cultivate relationships with hotels, resorts and DMCs.
Some properties do send out information about specials and availability for last-minute bookings. Others would be wise to do so.
- Use Cvent's Supplier Network to identify resources.
- Post on LinkedIn in groups or Discussions.
Earlier this year, I needed broomballs for a winter retreat. Google just wasn't turning anything up but a question I posted on LinkedIn helped me identify a resource less than 30 minutes away and at the right price.
- Do some leg work. Sometimes cold calling prospective suppliers will pay off if phone calls aren't returned quickly enough.
What strategies do you use to deal with last-minute requests and still pull together a blockbuster event?