Entertaining co-workers of all different ages, backgrounds, and cultures is difficult and often stressful. Here are the 3 biggest fails to avoid when planning your company party that I’ve personally seen over the years and what to do about them.
Event Fail 1: Picking an Activity Nobody Likes Except the CEO
Yes, I know: It’s their nickel.
But I’ve seen great corporate parties grind to a screeching halt when the CEO has forced everyone’s attention to something nobody really enjoys. Two I’ve seen specifically:
A: The CEO has a band and wants a captive audience.
Glad you guys are enjoying yourselves. Your audience on the other hand…
Company bands are really cool! Forcing people to sit and watch them for more than an hour is generally not.
On one event we were on, the event team mitigated this problem by having many different activities throughout the venue that didn’t require sound to enjoy (it was the House of Blues, so it was easy to spread activities around that were still in eye/ear shot of the band performance).
The CEO got their audience, but the entire group did not have to sit still for three hours and hide that they were just watching Netflix on their phone.
B: The CEO loves golf / rowing / <activity> and wants it for your team-building/outing
Activities you already need either high-level skill for or physical conditioning for can be very alienating choices in which team members check out quickly if they can’t quickly learn to excel at it.
The best you can really do if the CEO is adamant it come up with a related but less-intense addition or alternative (we usually find a VR or gaming experience that simulates the activity and can be learned in minutes with no prior experience).
When people feel included, they generally enjoy themselves!
Event Fail 2: Cramming Too Much Stuff into Your Event Space
You wouldn’t try to make a 100-person dance party work inside a conference room, right? Yet I see all the time people trying to pack activities with a physical component into ridiculous spaces.
This meeting facilitator had a great idea to use Just Dance to get people up and moving during their meeting, but if you’re so close you’ll hit your colleague in the face trying to dance like a Thriller zombie, all you have room to do is shuffle awkwardly and half-smile. (The facilitator has plenty of room; not coincidentally, he seems to be the only one really enjoying himself.)
Everyone loves Wii Sports, so this Videogame Wall event concept is great! However, anyone who’s played Wii Sports knows that someone probably got clobbered right after this picture was taken.
Any parent especially understands the potential bloodbath Wiimotes can cause. Put three games of Wii Sports that close together, and if you end up with moderate bruises but avoid cracked skulls, the day was a success.
Of course you expect the events company to be the expert, but at the end of the day some will go farther than others on their upsells. Just ask questions and be confident in what you know about your people and your space.
Event Fail 3: Relying on a Jack-Of-All-Trades Company to Handle All Entertainment
How would you feel if you asked your doctor for a recommendation for a dentist or a surgeon, and they said, “Oh, yeah, we can do that for you,”? Wouldn’t you think, “Um, did your medical degree really cover root canals and brain tumors?”
I’m not saying to call 50 different companies for every little thing.
But I don’t see floral companies trying to sell event lighting, or team-building planners selling dance-floor services. But companies whose services revolve around the DJ or AV will often sell you anything.
“Since you’re already getting a Photobooth, for only $99,999.99 more, every employee can receive their very own NFT!”
The partner company from which we rent big, physical games (casino tables, foosball, air hocket, etc.) told me one day when I mentioned <DJ Company>, “Yeah, they used to use for all their carnival games. One day I was at <festival>, and there they were with shabby copies of stuff they used to get from us. I asked, ‘Hey man… what the heck?’ and he said, ‘Oh, yeah, well, it just made more sense for us to do it ourselves.'”
I replied, “Yeah, they used to bring me in, too. Then I was at a trade show where they set up Virtual Reality in a way that literally makes people sick to their stomach. I asked him if they always set up VR like this, but he made it clear he believed he was the expert, I guess because they’ve been successfully selling it to clients.”
I had a recent event where the client said they were at an event with 2 VR headsets and the activities were “really boring.” To make VR boring, you almost have to try!
Just because a company is skilled in sales doesn’t mean they’re offering what’s best for you 100% of the time. Notice what questions the company asks you. If they don’t have specific answers about how the specific activity will meet your needs, trust the feeling if your BS detector goes off.
Getting a 2nd opinion can be as fast as filling out a contact form on a website. You’re the one taking the heat if the event doesn’t work out, so make sure you’re getting exact fits.
An Events Company’s Job is to Care About What’s Best For You
When our bathroom drain at our new house was stopped, we told the plumber the problem, but I didn’t tell them how to fix it. We’re paying an expert not just for their services but their assessment and honest opinion of what will work for our situation.
The frustrating thing about each of these situations above is they’re all totally unforced errors.
All it takes is for the events company to care as much about their client as they do about making a sale.
As you plan your next event, please, learn from my experiences: Avoid the 3 biggest fails to avoid when planning your company party! Your employees will love you for it!
Find more event advice at GamesDoneLegit.com/blog