Ever feel like an upcoming event has a black cloud hanging over it? Most event planners have been there.

Thankfully, in most cases, that’s just the nerves talking. If you stay organized, those late-night nightmares about your event falling to pieces won’t become reality.

But — in very rare scenarios — the odds are stacked against your event, and you need to know when to walk away.

Here are five unlikely situations would cause any level-headed planner to back away from their event hosting duties — and how you can plan ahead to make sure your event has a better fate.

1. Your venue is doomed

You’re flipping through cable stations and realize your event venue was featured on one of those haunted ghost story shows. Or, you just saw on the local news that it was wrecked by a water main break or overrun by escaped zoo animals. Slightly more realistically, your venue cancels at the last minute, everywhere in town is booked, and you have a hundred attendees with nowhere to go.  

Lesson learned: Even if you choose a reputable venue, always have a backup plan in place in case they have to cancel for some reason.

2. Your keynote speaker is involved in a scandal

Your keynote speaker was just involved in a wacky social media scandal involving the “Baby Shark” song and inappropriate gestures (don’t ask!).

Lesson learned: The people you choose to associate and partner with for your event should be your best brand ambassadors. In other words, select wisely because who you feature on event day will be a reflection of you.

Too late and you’re facing backlash over your speaker selection? Check out How to Avoid Social Media Backlash.

3. A black hole of missing paperwork

Not one contract or permit that you need to get your event planning going has been sent back signed. It seems like everyone you’re dealing with is out to delay your progress, Truman Show-style (remember that movie?). With each fax that never went through (yes, people still fax), or item that must be lost in the mail, it’s setting back your progress.

If it’s less than a week until your event and you still don’t have an alcohol license or permit from the city, it’s time to call it.

Lesson learned: Build in plenty of time for correspondence and contract signing but also be persistent. That might just mean dropping by in person to get the items you need in hand so you can move forward.

4. Arch rivalry issues

Your biggest competitors just announced an almost identical event set to run the day before yours, just before your announcement went out. Even worse – it’s at a lower price point and a bigger and better venue than you had planned.

Lesson learned: Networking with industry connections and thorough research can keep you informed about other similar events being planned in your space. And if you do have an arch rival whose goal it is to sabotage your event success, be sure that your team doesn’t prematurely reveal any plans you’re working on publicly.

5. Superstition overload

Just as planning for a new event is underway, a black cat crossed your path, your assistant walked under a ladder and opened an umbrella indoors, and you dropped and cracked a mirror. To top it off, you realized that the planned event date happens to be Friday the 13th!

Lesson learned: If you’re the type to believe in this sort of thing, you’re just going to have to create your own luck. Even if that means crossing your fingers and carrying around a rabbit’s foot, do what you need to do. More important, if you do everything in your power and have a great support system to make sure the event goes smoothly, be confident that it will.

Planning an event can be stressful, and if you look hard enough for signs that you should quit your day job, you’re bound to find a few. Instead, adopt a more positive outlook and keep building upon past and recent successes, as well as the event lessons you pick up along the way. And when you need a reminder that it can always be worse, just refer back to this list.

Check out 20 Event Planning Guides for Every Step of Your Event, and never second-guess your skills again.

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