How Event Planners Can Break Bad News to Their Clients

As the saying goes, nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news. That statement holds true for event planners. I’ll admit, it can be difficult to deliver bad news. Especially when the person you’re delivering it to is your client or customer.

There’s the fear that the customer will blame you. There’s no doubt that a meeting planner’s job is demanding and therefore many meeting planners need to make decisions quickly. Therefore they’re relying on their service provider, the event planner for example, to be straightforward with them. Top event planners understand that sometimes breaking bad news is unavoidable. It must be done. After all, it’s your job to make sure that your customer is armed with all of the facts and information in order to make informed decisions.

But there are ways to deliver bad news. It’s an event planner’s duty to inform the client when something is wrong. Or if something needs to be changed. But it’s the way that the bad news is delivered that can make or break the working relationship.

Here Are A Few Tips That Event Planners Can Use to Break Bad News

Do not be yes man or woman from the get go. The worst thing that you can do is to simply say yes to your client because you’re afraid to upset, or offend, him or her. After all, as the saying goes, the truth only hurts once whereas lies continue to hurt over and over and over.

Choose your words wisely. Have you ever been in a restaurant and perhaps you’ve asked for a menu substitution and your server simply said “no we cannot do that”? How did that make you feel? If you’re like me, you may have wanted to get up and leave the restaurant simply because of the servers attitude. Perhaps if the server had taken the time to explain why a substitution was not available at the time, rather than simply jumping to no, you may have been more understanding.

Have a solution. Piggybacking on “choose your words wisely”, if you have to say no you need to have a solution or a valid reason why the request cannot be completed. It will show your potential customer that you’re thinking on your feet and that you also have additional options available for him or her to consider.

Timing/don’t delay. If you know you have to have that conversation, do not put it off. Putting it off will not serve you nor your client favorably. When you find out if something cannot be executed as promised, begin your problem-solving (i.e. look for solutions) and have a conversation with your client ASAP.

Deliver bad news in person. If the opportunity presents itself, it’s always best to meet with the person face-to-face. First off, it will soften the blow as your client, the meeting planner, will appreciate that you took the time to meet with them. It also shows that you have strength, knowledge and your dedicated to finding solutions for your client.

Final Thoughts

I always joke that event planners need to be jugglers. On one hand they are dealing with their clients, meeting planners, and on the other hand they’re dealing with multiple suppliers and vendors. All at the same time. So naturally there will be bad news from time to time that needs to be delivered. Seasoned meeting planners know that. But it’s how an event planner delivers the bad news to their client that can make or break their relationship. Don’t be one of those event planners that sticks their head in the sand hoping things will simply go away.

They won’t – you need to address them. Now.

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