How Do You Handle Unforeseen Delays?

Australian iPad 2 Launch 2011-03-25-07-03-17_1000000429

Many popular events are all about delays. Lines to check in at registration, lines for big-name speakers, delays for labs, lines for food and lines for drinks. If you’re at a big conference, you’ll also likely have lines for cabs and/or busses and lines for dinner at nearby restaurants.

While we strive daily to lessen delays for everything — especially registration — we know delays will happen no matter how much planning is involved. While many event planners don’t like to speak of delays, here are a few tips we’ve found helpful when dealing with frustrated attendees.

Be Honest
Don’t know what’s wrong? Say that and then try to find out. Can’t find out what’s wrong? Say that, too. People are forgiving of annoyances when they’re kept in the loop, but not if they’re constantly being told to wait patiently without more information.

Solve Problems
Perhaps a line waiter needs to head to the restroom. Would you ask their spot in line be saved? You should. We’ve also seen staff give out water, help with recharging mobile devices or passed out relevant information so attendees can make the time a bit more useful. Don’t think that just because they can’t check in/sit down/plate up that they can’t be doing something they like.

Sometimes attendees made to wait just want to air their grievances to on-site staff. They may know full well complaining won’t help, but it may make them feel better, so why not indulge them? We’re not saying your staff should put up with abuse, but some small or industry talk could go a long way in getting people’s minds back on why they’re actually there.

Take Notes
Plenty of attendees will be more than willing to let staff know exactly what they think could be done better. While that may not help the current situation, there’s no reason your staff can’t take quick notes for your later debriefing. All it takes is one good idea for this to be worth the minutes it will take.

Let us know if you can think of anything more in the comments.