If there’s one constant you can count on in events management, it’s that situations will continuously come up – usually unexpected, nightmarish situations.

This is our list of 5 event nightmares you won’t want happening to you (but probably will at some point) – and more importantly, how you can prevent them.

Speakers, Entertainers Cancelling

Key personnel cancelling can doom an event to failure, before it event begins. If your main speaker suddenly doesn’t show up, attendees can do more than ask for their money back – they could ruin your reputation for being dishonest (even if it wasn’t your fault that your key speaker backtracked).

There are no two ways around it; you’ll have to be honest and upfront with your attendees. Spring your contingency plans into action and make up for the loss of a key speaker or star performer – then share the news and offer audiences a choice of whether they’d like to continue attending the event, or to withdraw. The key is to deliver so much value with your plan B; then event attendees may be even happier with the updated programme.

Too many attendees

While many event planners are worrying over empty seats, because you’re a reader of our blog, we trust that you already know how to promote your event and draw in the crowds. Now, you may have the reverse issue – too many attendees.

Our advice here is for pre-emptive action – because there’s not much more that you can do if 300 people show up in an auditorium that seats 200. Instead, keep a close eye on your event registrations and be sure to either put a cap on your registration numbers or switch your venue to a larger location. If your event is an “open to public entry” event, then keep count of how many people have entered and exited your event venue, and hold visitors outside till some visitors leave and your event hall can admit more people.

Bad weather

Outdoor events can be tricky. That’s why it’s essential to always have a backup plan in case of bad weather. For some events, this can mean holding an indoor space in reserve (just in case the weatherman has bad news a few days in advance of your event).

Other events that may require that outdoor space, though may need some creative workarounds. Including ponchos in your goodie bag may be a good idea. Or in the worst-case scenario, you may need to have a backup plan that involves rescheduling your event.

A big sponsor is unhappy

Sponsors are the lifeblood of many events. Their injection of cash, services or goodies can transform a mediocre event into an outstanding one – or their lack of investment could mean the difference between having an event, and not having one. One of the last things you’ll want is a sponsor who’s unhappy over a logo place, lack of acknowledgement or more.

Often, unhappiness stems from a lack of clarity in agreements. Always be clear – in verbal and written communications – of what your sponsors will be getting for their investment. Whether it’s specific logo placement at your event venue, brand name mentions or anything else, they’ll need to know exactly what you’re promising them – and you’ll need to get all this down in writing.

Where are the volunteers?

It sounds like a perfect plan – staff your event crew with volunteers, who promise to show up for the magical experience of being a part of your event. Of perhaps, you’ve promised them freebies. Either way, don’t rely on 100% of your volunteers to show up on day one – and certainly don’t expect all your volunteers to return on days two, three and beyond.

Instead, expect this situation happening and simply cater to more volunteers than you need. Staff important positions with (non-volunteer) team members that you trust, then get your volunteers to do work that’s easily interchangeable – so in case a volunteer doesn’t show up tomorrow, that person can be replaced with someone else.