The Importance of Risk Management in Events Planning

Planning an event requires months of prep-work, with pressure increasing each day. Event planners have a lot on their plate, from liaising with suppliers to organizing the guest list. All of this work means that a failed event inevitably leads to disappointment.

Unfortunately, with so many moving parts, an unsuccessful event is always a potential outcome. Disappointment thus makes way for the grim realities of what happens when an event doesn’t meet targets: the company loses revenue, and relationships with key suppliers might be at stake.

These legal considerations tend to fall by the wayside, especially if no one in the planning team has legal training. This is why risk management is crucial for event planners. 


Risk planning sessions should always occur in the early stages of planning, with new ideas and insights added as the event draws near. A 2015 study tracks the planning that goes behind events such as the Olympics and the World Cup, noting that these mega-events are often prone to procedural errors from planning to execution. While most events don't require transforming an entire city like when it comes to building a sports stadium, the study shows that poor planning does have a ripple effect. Not only does a failed event reflect poorly on your guests, but it also throws a wrench in the operations of all companies involved. 

It’s crucial that these planning sessions are done as a team, so that everyone is aware of the protocol the day of the event. Each team member should be assigned as a point person for every instance, which adds a sense of ownership and diffuses responsibility across the team. Encoding the planning sessions and reporting on the day of event can create an internal record to refer to for future events.


Risk management involves a lot of aspects. Some risk factors include: 

  • Partner compensation, ranging from partner organizations to suppliers
  • Guest safety, as worked through in conjunction with the event
  • Spread of information, especially regarding event details for guests and protocol for staff
  • Speaker and performer training, if required
  • Public relations outreach, as such outreach may be stipulated in speaker and partner contracts

· Availability of suppliers, from event venue to catering

This list is by no means exhaustive, and will likely change depending on the specifics of your event. A good way to start thinking of risk factors is to lay out all the stakeholders involved in the event, and brainstorm potential issues that might affect each one. 


The nature of event planning means that each team member wears different hats. While this strategy can work when it comes to the planning team itself, the same can’t be said for when it comes to handling legal matters. Investopedia notes that operational risks are one of the big issues that companies face, citing lawsuits as a common outcome of operational mistakes. 

These risks are too great to be left in the hands of team members who might already feel like they’re stretched too thin. So it is important to implement measures to deal with and plan against any potential legal matters. Special Counsel details that companies who deal with risk should look to hire an in-house legal team, making this a potential option for event management companies. An in-house team will also be able to build up a rapport with clients, which could in turn help convince partnerships that any future events will be handled very professionally and thoroughly. 

As our Event Insight post on preventing risk shows, even experienced event planners deal with risk. Understanding that risk is part and parcel of event planning and is a crucial first step in minimizing it.