Four Categories of Event Wrangler Work
An events wrangler job can be divided into four distinct categories of work.
- Offsite Prep
- Onsite Work
- Offsite Follow-up
- Event Creation And Development
The first three categories above relate to identified events which are definitely going to happen; the fourth category pertains to new or proposed events that may or may not happen.
This Events Wrangler post takes a look at a few aspects of onsite work.
Automattic is likely to have an Events Wrangler manual, or at least Events Wrangler checklists. If there is no official company events manual, team members who have managed past events will undoubtedly have their own personal “events handbook” and checklists based on multiple events they’ve planned and executed and what they’ve learned over the years.
Outstanding Events And Overlooked Opportunities
It would be Sisyphean task to list in a single blog post every aspect of onsite work for an event. What I’m highlighting in this post are six onsite work topics which can help make an event extra special or which may not always receive an appropriate amount of attention. The six topics are:
- Incoming shipments and last minute supplies or equipment
- Internet access and event attendee computing device assistance
- Pre-event social meetup
- Resolving AND documenting challenges and issues during the event
- End of event
- Event follow-up
Incoming shipments and last minute supplies or equipment — If Murphy didn’t have his own Law, and if everything always worked the way it should, there would be no need for onsite work to be concerned about incoming shipments or obtaining last minute items. Every item needed for a successful event would be thought of and arranged for ahead of time and would show up when and where it should. Because there is a possibility one or two items you need for your event won’t show up when you need it, it makes sense to prepare for that possibility by being on top of all the incoming shipment details. Have a list of all event supplies and equipment that you or others have arranged for. Shipment information needs to include all the details of what is being shipped as well as critical items like shipper tracking number, shipper contact information, arrival date / time, destination address and much more. You should have all that information before you travel to the city where the event is being held.
Depending on how long you’ll be onsite before the event starts, you might also need info to coordinate last-minute shipments for items that were forgotten or aren’t expected to arrive in time. Know what you’ll have to do to get overnight air or quick-delivery courier shipments.
It also behooves an event wrangler to be able to get last-minute supplies or equipment locally when onsite. Google will help you identify potential local resources and vendors before you travel to the city and after you arrive, and coworkers who’ve done events there before may have suggestions for local suppliers of emergency items. Your contacts at the event venue will most likely have their favorite local resources for emergency situations.
Internet access and event attendee computing device assistance — Although it doesn’t cause problems as often as it did ten years ago, internet access is a potential issue for every tech event. It pays to make sure the event internet access is robust and user friendly. Know the internet access specs and capabilities you need for a successful event, and know how to check out the access before the event starts so you can prevent common problems. Have the supplier monitoring the status of the internet access throughout the event and have a plan in place for dealing with outages, overloads, bandwidth shaping, security and other key topics. Make sure the speakers have bulletproof systems if they need internet access for their talk.
Not all events provide assistance or advice for computing devices people bring to events. During the offsite prep work, decide what computing device assistance you will provide for speakers, sponsors, and attendees. Will you have chargers, charging stations, adapters, wireless mice or controllers. Will you have someone helping attendees who have questions about accessing the event internet service or who have trouble connecting their device. Will you be able to suggest local resources to help speakers or attendees who need computing device issues other than “connecting to the internet” or charging their device’s battery?
Pre-event social meetup — Depending on the length and nature of the event, having a pre-event social meetup may make the event especially memorable for those at the meetup. This post won’t get into any more details about this type of pre-event activity. But because building new relationships and strengthening existing ones is such an important part of events, evaluate whether your event will be remembered partly because people had so much fun at the pre-event meetup, or whether they met someone at the meetup whom they would not otherwise have gotten to know.
Resolving AND documenting challenges and issues during the event — Every events wrangler will run into and deal with challenges and issues during the event (those are sometimes called “problems” or “emergencies”). Those things will get taken care of, sometimes smoothly, sometimes awkwardly, and sometimes inadequately. Occasionally, successfully dealing with a challenge or issue as the event is happening is an unexpected shining moment for the event manager. They might make a friend for life, or their performance under pressure may serendipitously open new doors that would have otherwise remained closed.
Regardless of how things turn out when dealing with bumps in the road, it pays to document what happened, appropriately respecting people’s privacy and dignity. If any details of the matter were embarrassing or otherwise inappropriate to share, document what happened in a way that safeguards personal details but helps other Events Wranglers avoid similar situations or shows them how to best deal with them when they do happen.
When you’re in the midst of an event and need to be in several places at once, it’s easy to address issues and never get around to documenting them. The most important thing is a good resolution to problems that crop up in an event, but it’s absolutely worth documenting and sharing what happened so it’s much less likely to happen in the future.
End of event — As an event nears the end, people start thinking about travel plans or items they need to do the next day or next week. In many ways, event attendees take their focus off the event they’re still at. Be mindful of this and don’t have unrealistic last-minute expectations for the speakers and attendees. Event participants may need assistance in dealing with their belongings, their hotel, or their travel arrangements. Lost and found items, transportation, finding other event participants at the last minute, and various other needs will pop up, so it’s good to have a plan in place for dealing with those topics. If the Events Wrangler needs to meet with or discuss substantive issues with people at the event, it’s best not to schedule important meetings near the end of an event. Be aware that, for most people, the importance of dealing with event-related topics drops dramatically as the close of the event approaches.
Event follow-up — Event follow-up is an important topic that I wanted to mention in this post but will cover in much greater detail in a future post. A well-designed and well-orchestrated event generates a plethora of golden opportunities for follow-up and future action. To take advantage of those opportunities requires the Events Manager to keep good notes during the event and to take time to address each follow-up item noted during the event. The tendency is to be worn out from putting on an event or eager to get back to your home base or start work on your next engagement. To ensure you don’t needlessly waste any of those golden opportunities, it often pays to stay an extra day or two onsite after the event is over. This gives you a chance to write follow-up reports or emails and capture your key takeaways from the event before they get lost in the busyness of everyday work. It also gives you time to thank all the suppliers and venue personnel who made the event a rousing success.
The above points don’t begin to cover all the work the Events Wrangler does onsite to help pull off a successful conference, workshop or meetup. But I hope this post helps you look at one or two things a little differently during your next session of onsite work!