Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news; this is especially true for event planners who have to embrace it as part of their roles.
Event planners are hired to not just plan events, but to also make sure nothing goes wrong; but as we all know, nobody can control everything and bad news is just something we have to deal with.
I’ll admit, it can be difficult to deliver bad news, especially when the person you’re delivering it to is your client. There’s the fear that the client will blame you – after all, you are the service provider who is in charge.
There’s no doubt that an event planners job is demanding and therefore many need to make decisions quickly within the confines of the event agreement. But when an issue arises which potentially impacts the quality of the event due to unforeseen costs for example, the client is relying on their service provider to be straight forward with them.
Top event planners understand that breaking bad news is unavoidable – it must be done. After all, it’s your job to make sure that your customer is armed with all of the facts and information in order to make informed decisions.
But there are ways to deliver bad news. It’s an event planner’s duty to inform the client when something is wrong or needs to be changed. However, it’s the way the bad news is delivered that can make or break the working relationship whilst maintaining what is best for the overall goal – the event.
Here are a few tips to help break bad news:
Do Not Be a ‘Yes Person’ From The Get Go
Not only is this part of InAnyEvent London’s philosophy but the worst thing you can do is to simply say yes to your client because you’re afraid they will be upset or offend. After all, as the saying goes, the truth only hurts once whereas lies continue to hurt over and over and over.
Choose Your Words Wisely
Have you ever been in a restaurant and perhaps you’ve asked for a menu substitution and your server simply said “no we cannot do that”? How did that make you feel? If you’re like me, you may have wanted to get up and leave the restaurant simply because of the servers attitude. Perhaps if the server had taken the time to explain why a substitution was not available at the time, rather than simply jumping to no, you may have been more understanding.
Have a Solution
Piggybacking on “choose your words wisely”, if you have to say no you need to have a solution or a valid reason why the request cannot be completed. It will show your client that you’re thinking on your feet and that you also have additional options available for them to consider but also that making the event the best it can be is at the heart of your role.
Timing! Don’t Delay
If you know you have to have that conversation, do not put it off. Putting it off will not serve you nor your client favourably. When you find out if something cannot be executed as promised, begin your problem-solving and have a conversation with your client ASAP. The more time you have, the more solutions are likely available for your client to select.
Deliver Bad News In Person
If the opportunity presents itself, it’s always best to meet with the client face-to-face. First off, it will soften the blow as they will appreciate that you took the time to meet with them. It also shows that you have strength, knowledge and your dedicated to finding solutions for your client as well as effectively portraying your sincerity which can be easily lost in a phone call or email.
We event planners always joke that we need to be superheroes to survive. On one hand we are dealing with our clients, meeting planners, and on the other hand were dealing with multiple suppliers and vendors, all at the same time, sometimes for multiple events at once.
Realistically there will always be bad news from time to time that needs to be delivered, but a seasoned event planner knows this. It’s how an event planner delivers the bad news to their client that can make or break their relationship and determines the outcome of the event.
Don’t be one of those event planners that sticks their head in the sand hoping things will simply go away, they won’t – you need to address them now, not tomorrow.