Six expert tips to ensure event planning success on GWCCA campus

At the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA), we are committed to delivering compelling guest experiences. An essential part of any experience, big or small, is preparation.

Recently, unConventional sat down with Kelly Ross, event services manager at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), to discuss the most common event planning pitfalls she has seen over the course of her career. She offered the following tips to ensure events go off without a hitch, while allowing attendees to have a great experience.

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. – In the world of event planning, you can never do enough of it.  As you move through the process, it goes without saying that things will come up. Keeping the lines of communication open and engaging in consistent two-way dialogue can make the unexpected things that come up (and they will pop up!) much easier to tackle.

Timeline to your deadline. – At every stage of an event, from site selection and planning to execution and completion, there are a number of check offs along the way.  Mapping out key to-dos and associated deadlines that directly impact the success of an event, whether it’s a 10-person board meeting or a 25,000-person exhibit hall show, are critical to ensuring everyone is on the same page and focused on the end goal.  Lay out critical dates, be realistic on the timeframes, and check in often.

Fail to plan…plan to fail. – Producing an event requires a multitude of components, logistics, and people. Being thoughtful about the show manager-vendor-contractor relationship and process, whether internal or external, is paramount. Account for the time spent and plan for the smallest detail. When every potential outcome, as best known, is included in the plan, the measure of success increases tremendously.  But on the off chance these things are not planned for, the measure of failure could be worse.

It’s a big building, things take time. – The GWCC encompasses 3.9 million square feet of space across three adjoined buildings. It is the fourth largest convention center in the country, after all, and can take awhile to traverse from one end to the other.  While our teams strive to address requests as quickly as possible, there can be instances when a request may take an extra minute or two. Having (and communicating) realistic expectations for requests and associated response times will help instill confidence that our teams are being deployed effectively and efficiently to meet customer needs.

There is no such thing as perfection. – In the meetings and convention industry, there are going to be unforeseen circumstances and unanticipated adjustments – sometimes these arise months in advance, other times it is days or even hours before a show begins. While hitting on the first four items mentioned above are solid safeguards, ultimately we know things may need to change on a dime. Remaining flexible and allowing room for adjustment when needed will make the goal of obtaining perfection more of a best possible outcome versus everything going right.

Invest in yourself. – It is easy to get completely immersed in the preparation and lead-up to a show, meeting or convention and forget to take a few moments to recharge. These tips are hard to achieve if you haven’t taken the time to first think about (and plan for) your overall health and wellness. Are you being smart about what you’re packing? Are you drinking lots of water? Are you wearing comfortable shoes? Are you making healthy food choices that will keep you energized for the long days ahead?  Have you worked exercise into your schedule? The biggest investment is in yourself.