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What to Do When Event Timelines Conflict

A timeline is nothing less than the backbone of an event—an essential part that can make a day a great success or an epic fail. If you are lucky, the event planner will provide you with a flawless, balanced, and accurate timeline in advance so you can review and make changes as necessary. What do you do, though, if there is no point of contact to provide a timeline, and no person in charge qualified to create one? The key is to master the art of communicating effectively.

Pre-event contact

Communication is critical before, during and even after an event to ensure that all creative partners are on the same page and working in the client’s best interest.

Many event problems arise because creative partners don’t want to talk prior to an event. Perhaps it’s because they are so busy, or maybe past experiences make them shy away from difficult conversations. Whatever the reason behind the avoidance, it is one of the surest way to doom your events.

If you aren’t the event planner, what is your responsibility in terms of communicating about the timeline? All stakeholders need to share their intentions, requirements, suggestions, and concerns before the event. If there is no central point of contact, then you must tell everyone involved what you need. Don’t skip this step. Take the initiative and open the lines of communication.

We are all on the client’s team, even if the clients are a bunch of event and catering professionals! Photo courtesy Rand Larson with Morningstar Productions from the recent NACE Experience event in Palm Desert, CA

Think team

Sometimes you will encounter a creative partner who is unprepared to share plans for an event when the information is needed. Remember that you are all on the same team. You may have to pick up the slack for someone who isn’t moving fast enough to ensure everything goes well for your clients. Do what you need to do to clear the way for a smooth event, but do note which colleagues you should tag in your database as unreliable or uncooperative in the future.

Phone, email, or walk-through?

Is there a go-to form of communication for coordinating timelines and addressing your concerns? Email has the advantage of providing evidence in case anything goes wrong and you need to be able to demonstrate that you did your part. Sometimes, though, a group call is quicker and allows you to resolve the most important concerns quickly. If the event is particularly complicated, you might even consider scheduling a walk-through so the details can be worked out face-to-face.

When it comes down to it, we are all on the client’s team. Keep the end-goal in mind, always, and work collaboratively with your peers to ensure that the timeline for every event is the backbone it should be. 

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Kevin Dennis

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.