The 4 Worst Things That Need To Stop At Events

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Event management is far from a stagnant space.

In just the past year, we’ve seen the event space go cashless, distribute digital swag bags, and invest in crowd streaming. I’m sure 2017 will have many more new trends that will continue to change the industry.

Worst Things at Events

Yet in spite of reputation, event managers aren’t immune to the fear of change. While all these new technologies and leaps forward in guest experience are shuffling the industry along, some event managers remain stuck making the same mistakes of the past.

Consider this is an intervention. If you’re still sticking to these tried-and-failed practices, I’m here to stop you from alienating guests and throwing away money.

These are the worst four things that need to stop at events (and how to fix them).

1. Paper

I am declaring an all-out vendetta against using paper when and if technology is readily available.

The ban on paper includes sign-in sheets, name tags, flyers, and anything else that hasn’t already been created for event management software. At the risk of sounding like John Oliver, it’s 2017!


We have smartphones, self-driving cars, virtual reality, 3-D printers, and you can even have alcohol delivered right to your door if you live in an area that allows such a thing. So why are we still depending on paper like we do?

If my “current year” shaming won’t convince you, then perhaps the numbers will. EventPilot has created a calculator that spits out the monetary and CO2 costs for using paper over tech at events.

Instead of check-in sheets and name tags, RFID technology allows event attendees to wirelessly check-in and electronically carry their information around with them everywhere they go. Not only will you save money in the long run by ditching the paper, this technology will save you and your attendees time through automation of the check-in processes.

2. Lack of Signs


There are few things more annoying than wandering through the many conference halls of fancy hotels looking for the breakout session you are supposed to attend.

Your guests aren’t omniscient (as far as I know), so it is your job as an event manager to guide them to their designated seats, breakout sessions, and meal rooms accordingly. If event attendees are paying money to attend, make each of their dollars count. Don’t let them waste their time (and thus money) roaming around looking for where they should be.

Instead, signs should be displayed at the entrance of the venue and set to guide attendees to the event and to their designated areas throughout their time at the event. It also doesn’t hurt to place personnel at different key areas of the venue to help guide attendees to their respective destinations, saving you and your guests time.

3. Useless swag


It’s a good thing I’ve purged all of my collected useless swag out of my house. Elsewise, I would qualify as a candidate for the next season of hoarders.

That’s not to say all swag is useless. I’ve kept and worn t-shirts, worn complimentary sunglasses, and I keep every thumb drive I get my hands on.

However, it’s hard to keep track of all of the useless swag that is regurgitated onto event attendees, from portable fans to packages of Post-It notes.

Stop it!

Simply slapping your logo on any old common item is no promise that you will see any benefit unless the item has actual staying power, such as t-shirts. Even t-shirts aren’t a sure thing if the logo placement is obnoxious (looking at you “all-over print” t-shirts). No one likes being a billboard for your product if the advertisement is tacky.

A great rubric to grade your swag is to ask others or even yourself whether or not you would use the items you are giving away. It’s important that you answer this question truthfully instead of making excuses for your swag simply because it is yours. Otherwise, all of the money you invested in these materials will first land in someone’s closet—and ultimately in a landfill.

4. Using Excel spreadsheets


While it’s true, Excel spreadsheets are definitely an upgrade from any kind of paper spreadsheet you could use to organize event attendees, equipment, and time slots, it’s not an efficient organization tool.

Most event management software options are already preloaded with spreadsheet features which integrate with all other uses of your event data. It’s time to leave the outdated software behind and embrace the future of event management software.


Is there anything you’ve seen or experienced at events that you feel has gone on long enough? Let me know of your worst event experiences in the comment section below!

Looking for Event Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Event Management software solutions.

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About the Author


Nick Morpus

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Nick Morpus is a former Capterra analyst.



Curious read. Points #1 & #2: With the commoditization of event technology, everything has a price – far more than the price of a muffin, or cup of coffee. Renting of tablets, digital signage, laptops or even digital printing on foam core or gator board can rack up quite the bill. Swag – Who doesn’t love a stress ball. . . Just tough to chew. Marketing firms, and internal PR associates have been replaced by interns, administrative assistants and HR staff. . . Well-then, maybe a bite-sized Snickers, a (branded) bic pen and a (branded) LED key fob from Vista-Print are exactly what the “Swag-Bag” requires. Spreadsheets – I’m neither for, or against them. When hiring local staff for an event, having that piece of paper will get Betty-Sue and her husband Herb to their break on time. Software in the hands of people who can leverage the tool to its fullest potential takes proper training, and investment (time & money). Great read. Made me chuckle, and question the state of our industry with any Tom, Dick or Harry can say: “I’m an Event Planner”. . . Cheers!


Hi I liked Pam’s question about name tags. Nick suggestions?


The event venues need to adopt real-time availability and cost information solutions. Being required to call and email back and forth with venue managers during this tech age where one can and should be able to get this information on your website and book on your website, is nothing less than a waste of time and a leaky financial bucket for event venues. It should not take months to get in touch with venues to receive basic information. Simplify the process, make it easy for people to learn everything they need about your venue (using all accessible technologies), and see your real-time availability and cost information and you’ll see your event bookings go up, you’ll earn more, and build better relationships.


Thanks Nick – Two questions: What do you suggest in lieu of Name Tags? And, do tell, what are some links to suggested management software that can get me away from my tried and true Excel spreadsheets? (Enjoyed your post!) Pam

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