To be modest, I don’t mess up. At least not usually. And at least not with events (my personal life I mess up all the time!!)
So yesterday when I totally screwed up an event for the first time ever, it was a surprise and quite the adventure!
Let me preface this by saying we have a weekly luncheon series that happens two to three times a week. I set this up at the beginning of each semester with the same caterer, facilities team, AV and every professor involved. I send the schedule to everyone and let them double-check my work so we all have the same schedule and that we are not missing any dates. I then keep the whole schedule on our master events schedule. So when I went to check our luncheon yesterday, 30 minutes before the event began and there was no food, I was shocked.
I was upset, immediately thinking that it was a screw up with the caterer, with the owner being out-of-town this week. But at that point it didn’t matter. I just needed to fix it. My faculty contact for the event came in and her face melted. No food. For 40 faculty, staff and students. It was bad.
I immediately called the rest of events team for backup. It was awesome. They were like a super squad. They immediately got to work while I called every deli contact I had to see if anyone could pull something together for us.
Two of my other main catering contacts were doing OTHER events for us at the same time in the same building so they were super confused when I requested an emergency last-minute order. “But we already are there!!!” Confusion took time on the phone (we had a TON of other events going on in the building yesterday). Finally, I buttered up my normal pizza guy enough that he could make a delivery in 20 minutes. He even used the credit card I had on file for the OTHER event we were hosting. Thank God cause every payment option I had been in a different building at my desk.
20 minutes later the pizza arrived and the rest of events team had rocked it out. They gathered all the supplies we had to pull together a luncheon. They found linens, ice buckets, plates, cups, napkins, etc. They even salvaged a veggie tray and cookies from a different event and made them look nice. It wasn’t a half bad display!
Instead of eating at the beginning of the event, attendees just took a break in the middle. Not too bad right? No one seemed upset with pizza either! Probably a fun choice for the faculty who are used to chicken masala and salmon.
And now here is the kicker that brings it back to the beginning. When I got back to the office and spoke with the original caterer, he said as nicely and politely as he could that it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t have the date on their calendar. He even resent me the email I sent him showing that February 29th (Happy Leap Day) was not one of the scheduled days. I have no idea how it happened. After all my checking. I think it had to do with making edits to the document and then closing before saving. I think. But either way, it just got skipped over.
I was overjoyed. I made a mistake!! My first big mistake!! I was so happy too because it would have been a ton of work rearranging our large luncheon calendar if the faculty didn’t want to use that caterer anymore. So thank God it was just me. I think they’ll just have to deal with being stuck with me.
I immediately re-sent the lunch calendar to every contact involved to make sure there aren’t anymore mistakes!!
Lesson learned. Adventure had. And I only hope you have as good of an events team as I do to cover your ass when you forget to schedule your caterer :)