What You Don’t Know About Event Operations: A Behind-the-Scenes Look

Major events require months of meticulous operations and planning to pull off flawless execution that looks like a “piece of cake” to attendees.

However, I’ve been surprised during my years of consulting enterprise-level event planners and operational leaders that some don’t play a long game in their planning strategy.

Or they do the opposite – planning far in advance and thinking they can use the remaining time to kick up their feet until game day.

Regardless, the outcome is the same. When you wait until the last minute or punch out too early, it shows.

It shows when seemingly small yet crucially important details are glossed over in favor of pomp and circumstance.
It shows when there’s a hiccup in the schedule and no alternative plan.
It shows when you see stressed-out personnel scrambling to answer guest concerns because no one knows what to do.

Every event timeline will be different, but the essentials are the same. Let’s take a behind-the-scenes look at the layers of preparation, decision-making, and the final push necessary for successful event operations.

60 Days Out: Your Event Ingredients Are Stocked

The two-month mark is not a leisurely stroll but a crucial phase demanding intense planning. The conceptual “cake” is far from baked, but you’re stocked up on the ingredients you need (plus some backup) for the final result.

The decisions made during this period lay the foundation for a successful event. Ideally, the idea train should have reached its final destination by now. If not, it’s time to hit the brakes and transition into execution mode, where plans solidify and take tangible form.

A common mistake I see is continuing to add new elements, which are often half-baked suggestions with no action or follow-through. Know that at 60 days out, your plans are still subject to change, but avoid adding more to the mix and getting distracted.

30 Days Out: Bring It All Together

It’s easy to start to make assumptions at the 30-day mark, thinking everything is falling into place and it’s almost showtime. The reality is quite different. While it may seem like the “icing is on the cake,” the truth is the cake hasn’t even been iced yet.

This is a critical juncture where planners touch gloves with partners, ensuring everyone involved has what they need to succeed. Decisions are still in motion, and the behind-the-scenes team is working to guarantee that all elements are seamlessly integrated.

One of the most critical elements to review at this stage is your communications plan among all stakeholders (I identify failing to have this as one of the top five mistakes in operations and enterprise planning). If core decisions and incident responses are in place, does the entire team know what they are? Solid and effective communication are the eggs keeping the whole cake together; don’t overlook it.

One Week Out: Get Decorating

In the last stretch leading up to the launch, it’s time to decorate the cake.; this involves ensuring that command and control structures are firmly in place and communication channels are strong and consistent.

The final week is a flurry of strategic activity, with every team member playing a crucial (and clearly defined) role in bringing the event to life. It’s not just about putting the finishing touches on the details; it’s about ensuring that every aspect of the event aligns with the vision and meets the high expectations of both organizers and attendees.

Remember, the event isn’t over until it’s over, meaning there is never a moment to let go of the reins, even while you’re in it. Even after the curtain falls, it’s still necessary to reflect and review your operations and opportunities to improve.

The Showpiece Difference

Orchestrating an event is like crafting a multi-layered cake; each layer represents a strategic decision, a logistical challenge, or a creative touch. Behind the scenes are planners, coordinators, and decision-makers working tirelessly to ensure a seamless and memorable experience.

Like baking and decorating an intricate cake, event operations need accurately timed steps and stages to achieve the desired result. It requires the right people in the right roles, working on a timeline, and planning for all outcomes, even the things you don’t anticipate; these are the keys to successful event operations that orchestrate encore results.

If you’re here because you realize you need to revisit your event operations strategies, complete the form below to see how we can help.

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