How Rental Pros Overcome Day-of Event Obstacles

Event professionals plan for a living, so you think NOTHING would ever go wrong— right? We have every detail accounted for, and a timeline that depicts the entire day. However, the best laid plans can still go awry. For us as event rental companies, we can control the product we supply. But, when we arrive on site for a delivery, hidden event obstacles tend to arise.

As party rental professionals, we perform multiple deliveries each day. The day can take a huge hit when we have to stop and redirect. So, what are some of the most common obstacles, and how can they be handled (or even avoided)?

The Venue Drop-Off

One of the most common event obstacles is arriving at the venue and realizing they’re not ready for the drop-off. We always like to clearly communicate with the venue, staff, and planner, letting them know exactly when they can expect us for drop-off. However, we’ve still found lighting and rigging for sound & lights in rooms that still need to be broken down, even when we are scheduled to drop the rentals for the following event.

This delay has a severe trickle-down effect, putting the entire timeline behind. On the day of the event, the best option is to make sure you have a clear line of communication with your staff on the ground. They’ll let you know as soon as they encounter this problem.

Beautiful indoor event
Image by D Jones Photography

You have several options when you encounter a venue delay:

  • Move on to the next event and plan to come back when the room will be ready
  • If distance to the next venue is a factor, or constraints are too tight, leave staff behind along with the items on site
  • You can have another crew pick up the next delivery from the truck and proceed with the route

Vehicle Issues

We all know that vehicles can break down – our team definitely has not been immune – but the worst is leaving with plenty of time to arrive early, only to find out that an accident has closed the road. And of course, it’s for 3 hours, directly in front of you, and causes you to arrive only 30 minutes before the event starts. When this happens, we call in more staff, get as much additional stock as we have to the venue to set, and wait for the remaining goods to arrive and be quickly installed.

Pressure to Perform Unsafely

One of the biggest event obstacles to watch is the panic of an organizer forcing setup that puts guests or staff in danger. In fact, we had a situation where a hotel triple booked an area. A conference was scheduled to end at 3pm, while the pipe and drape for our wedding ceremony was scheduled to go in at 10am in the same space. We navigated this snafu by going ahead and working in the reception area until the space was free of people.

Unbeknownst to me, the planner and the hotel catering manager decided that the pipe and drape could be installed while the group was still in the area. They began to install the it without my staff in the room and subsequently, one of the conference attendees opened a door, caught the drape, and pulled the pipe down on her head. Ambulance, paramedics, hospital bills and lawsuits followed. We were not held liable, the hotel manager no longer worked there, and the bride was sued for an event she didn’t have any control over.

How do we make sure these this doesn’t happen? More importantly, how can we have a plan in place for emergencies that may arise?

For this particular instance, you need to make it clear to the organizer that certain aspects of setup have to be handled by your crew personally. It is not only essential to outline setup rules in your contract, but you should do so when arranging a date for setup as well as on the day of.

The most important thing in any case like these examples is open communication with the client, the venue, and the staff. Make sure all parties are in the loop and know exactly what needs to happen and what the plan is to make it work.

Overcoming Event Obstacles

Ultimately, there is no way to keep these incidents from affecting the client. It is disappointing when the customer takes the opportunity to demand compensation, even though you delivered prior to any guest being aware. But, take this in stride and pull out all of the stops to try to overcome the impossible odds so that the event can go off without a hitch. Then, you can handle the contract and client after the event.

Above all, take control of the situation and take control of the message. Don’t ignore the problem and hope it works out. Instead, be mindful of the necessary steps to take, and aim to make it work.


Feature Image by D Jones Photography