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Taking the Agony Out of Accidents

Some event mishaps are unavoidable, but thinking ahead allows the show to go on


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If you’re a person who works with others, and chances are that applies to you, perfection is impossible. Workplace mishaps and real-time event happenings are inevitable, but the way you treat them can drastically affect your relationships with your coworkers and clients. Members of the event services team at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts are no strangers to high-pressure situations where problem solving happens must happen in an instant. Here are a few ways you can embrace the inevitable and be the best at preparing for anything:

ASSUME THE WORST AND PLAN AHEAD

Instead of fearing the possibility of something going wrong, get comfortable with it. By creating a detailed plan with your team before your big moment, you’ll be able to act accordingly if something happens.

“Having a Plan A, B, C and D is a part of our culture,” says Seawell Ballroom Technical Director Brook Nichols. “We talk about our strategy on a monthly basis and change it as necessary, depending on the event or client. Keeping it top-of-mind means our crew is already in the mindset to quickly make something else possible if they have to.”

No matter what business you work in, creating and practicing a plan for workplace emergencies like injuries, fires, natural disasters and active shooters is key to a safe environment that gives your coworkers the confidence to act accordingly in times of stress.

PARTNER WITH PEOPLE YOU CAN TRUST

No one is an island and no issue has to be solved on your own if you have people you can call on for help. Along with having a trustworthy team by your side every day, cultivate relationships with partners that will have your back.

“We have longstanding relationships with vendors we trust that can all offer us something different,” says Nichols. “It’s like having a Rolodex of people and information I can look to in a pinch.”

Ensuring that your venue is the right fit for your guests is good practice, too.

“Ask qualifying questions to make sure both you, and your guests, know the guidelines of your venue; talk budget and discuss goals,” says Director of Event Sales and Marketing Dawn Williams.

LEARN FROM OTHERS LIKE YOU

Any mistake is worth learning from – even if it’s not your own. Keep an eye on what does and doesn’t work for other people in similar industries to prevent the same issues from happening to you.

“I’m a member of Facebook groups that inform me of accidents that happen in other venues, from concerts and festivals to ballrooms like ours,” says Nichols. “Having access to information makes our team stronger and helps our industry as a whole be more conscientious of problems we all face, as well as their solutions.”

Read books, set news alerts and follow industry leaders on social media to keep real-time tabs on the heartbeat of your trade.

While it may feel counterintuitive to work with your direct competition, you can help each other out in ways that you will all benefit from. On top of her position with the DCPA, Williams is the founder of the Greater Denver Venue Network, which was established in 2009 to forge a supportive space within the Denver venue directors and sales managers.

“The mission is to support one another as event professionals, while creating a referral network that assists our clients and generates further bookings for the unique venues located in the Greater Denver area.”

DON’T DWELL ON IT

No one likes messing up, especially when your coworkers are relying on you to shine. But the worst thing you can do is make the fact that there’s a problem its own problem.

“We don’t have time to place blame on people,” says Nichols. “We just want to solve the problem and move on. The show has to go on when the lights go up – and it’s on all of us to make it happen.”

When everyone is accountable for the end result, it’s more important to solve the issue as a team and work through why it happened later.

“Treat mistakes as learning moments,” says Williams. “If something goes wrong, we have to talk about it and own it. But no one walks away with their head down.” Nichols’ team works best in an open, honest and trusting environment where they are treated with compassion. “There’s no guilt, just improvement. We can look back at most of our problems and laugh. It’s just life!”


Carolyn Michaels is a copywriter for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Prior to joining the DCPA team, she worked in branding, copywriting and art direction for WORKHORSE 45 and Greenhouse Partners.

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