As I mentioned in my previous post, as soon as an event is under way, I’m thinking about the logistics of breaking down and shipping out. The goal is to pack up quickly but carefully and roll on out of the event space before the sun starts to rise or the next day's rental fees kick in, which ever comes first! To minimize end-of-event headaches and hours spent waiting for late-night vendor pick-ups, here are a few more of my tried and true techniques for a smoother send-off:
When opening up boxes of materials, prep about a third of them for return by blacking out or fully covering barcodes and old address labels. Attach new, return shipping labels (pre-addressed, of course) as you go along. If you want to take it a step further, attach an addressed, adhesive full-sheet label to each box to minimize confusion if the shipping forms fall off or if they ship out after you’ve left the hotel.
Nothing’s more irritating than vendors who will only pick-up “within a 12-hour window.” To avoid annoying your venue's banquet manager, not to mention additional holding fees, I now insist that vendors pick up rentals within a 4-hour window. Even if it costs a little extra to do so, the peace-of-mind is worth it – and that way I can be on hand to ensure that the correct items are being picked up by the appropriate company – and returned to them in mint condition.
These days, for most of my out-of-town events I’m working by myself – there’s rarely enough money in the budget for a second-in-command to come along, which can leave me a bit short-handed during tear-down. Recently, however, I’ve started hiring local production assistants to help with tear-down. Where to find them? Ask your event planner colleagues, friends, relatives or post the request on Facebook. Chances are, within a day or two your peeps will be able to suggest a cousin, a daughter or a friend-of-a-friend who’s interested in events or looking for some extra cash. Not only will you get that all-important extra set of hands but you may make some new friends along the way!