The Jurassic Park Guide to Avoiding Event Disasters

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Event disasters

The tables are overturned. The gates have been busted open. The electric fences are down.

You watch in horror as your guests are hunted down by hundreds of dinosaurs looking to satisfy their hunger. You ask yourself, “Why, oh why is this happening??”

Okay, well this may be just a little off from what you had in mind for your next event. Perhaps you didn’t plan on having 65 million-year-old creatures as event entertainment. But this doesn’t mean there’s not room for event disaster. Jurassic Park and Jurassic World both suffered from some of the most basic event planning mistakes on a grand scale.

Learning from their mistakes can save your event from a similar (if less bitey) disaster and this guide will walk you through how to do this. (YES, there will be spoilers.)

Mistake One: Not Spreading Out Responsibility Between Managers

Event disasters

Dennis Nedry, the systems programmer for the original Jurassic Park was John Hammond’s biggest hiring mistake. For as many times as Hammond claims to have “spared no expense,” it seems the most important manager in the park (the one who controls all the security systems) isn’t getting fair compensation for his work.

Thus Hammond is left with Nedry ‘handing in his resignation’ in the form of sabotaging all the security systems of the park and stealing all the dinosaur embryos for a corporate rival of Hammond’s.

This can be the problem with leaving ONE person in charge of all the important functions for your event. Unlike John Hammond’s management model, having several event managers with equal experience is the wisest path to take, since it is difficult for one person to do it all.

For example, say you have one manager helping to run a registration table but they are being pulled aside to help another guest with a problem. Having another, floating event manager  can thus cover the responsibilities of the first manager.

Having several managers also makes it easier for event employees and volunteers to find help for their problems or find answers for their questions. You just don’t want a single Dennis Nedry running the entire show.

Mistake Two: Forgetting Murphy’s Law

Event disasters

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

When creating Jurassic Park and eventually Jurassic World, InGen and John Hammond clearly never considered Murphy’s Law. For all of their planning and seemingly flawless precautions, those who ran the park were actually building a system doomed to fail.

In fact, failsafes were never put in place in case of total power failure, and no one questioned if it was wise to combine all the predatory advantages of the most dangerous dinosaurs into a new hybrid, Indominus Rex.

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Lucky for you, worrying about running out of food or going over your budget is much less dire than having to keep track of dozens of species of dangerous dinosaurs. When planning and managing your event, careful attention must be given to what can and WILL go wrong.

Make sure your event planners and managers have done as much risk assessment as they can before your event to prevent or minimize any issues. Bringing the entire team together to brainstorm all the problems that may come up during the event is a great way to get different perspectives on how you can mitigate risk.

What They Did Right: Keeping the Events Fresh

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Let’s change gears. Aside from all of the faults and mistakes of the two parks, one thing Jurassic Park and especially Jurassic World got right was keeping their attractions fresh and exciting.

Having made a stellar comeback from the failure of the original park and the San Diego incident in The Lost World, InGen was able to finally get a grip on managing a park full of dinosaurs with their third endeavor, Jurassic World. The new park has successfully functioned without incident for ten years and every year their revenues have been climbing due to new animals being debuted on a schedule to keep the attractions fresh. Now they have gone so far as to create a brand new dinosaur to fit the desires of their guests. As the operations manager, Claire, puts it, “Our DNA excavators discover new species every year. But consumers want them bigger, louder, more teeth.”

Although creating a hybrid of all their most dangerous species proved to not be the wisest idea, InGen’s responsiveness to consumer demands and willingness to innovate put them at the top of their game in providing the best experience possible.

When hosting repeating events (annual, semi-annual, monthly, etc.) it is important to keep your guests on their toes by offering new additions to the events. Finding new ways to entice your attendees and satisfy their demands is a great way to ensure a constant attendance for every date. These can include new and popular speakers, different food choices every event, contests, etc.

Short of bringing bloodthirsty carnivores to your next event, following the model of InGen here can actually help avoid an attendance flop.

What Else They Did Right: Building the Right Team for the Job

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As is typical for a Jurassic Park movie, eventually the  inevitable disaster will occur. Luckily for the attendees of Jurassic World, our heroes have made significant advances in taming one of the most dangerous hunters in the park, the velociraptor.

When park activities come to screeching halt due to Indominus Rex breaking out of containment, the main protagonist, Owen, uses the velociraptors he has been raising and taming to hunt down the hybrid.

Owen certainly wouldn’t choose a plant eating brontosaurus to hunt down a fierce hybrid dinosaur, just as event planners shouldn’t put new volunteers in charge of managing an event.

Building the right team for your event and making sure they are working to their strengths can help you avoid disaster at your next event. For example, it may not be in your best interest to put a volunteer that has a problem with numbers or details in charge of running the registration table. Volunteers like that may be better suited to a more social and active position, such as helping with directions or serving food.

Don’t send a stegosaurus to do a raptor’s job.

Conclusion

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Chances are you won’t avoid any and all problems that come up during your event, but following this guide will certainly help you avoid the biggest disasters, even including dinosaurs running rampant and eating your guests.

Have you experienced and learned from an event disaster? Leave us a comment below explaining what happened!

Image by Abby Kahler

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Nick Morpus

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Nick Morpus is a former Capterra analyst.

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