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The Devil is in the Detail

Julia SavageEvent Planning, Everything

At some point in your life, probably while you were sitting at a particularly uninspiring year end party, you’ve asked yourself “What exactly does it take to put on a hugely successful event?”

Well, there are a few things actually...



It’s good to realise early in the process that what you may think is a good concept, may not be something that enough other people feel as strongly about. A good trick is to attend other events, and watch how other people are doing it,  identify the stuff that works, and then use it in your concept development adding your own unique ideas to the mix. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all.


Even the most exciting events need time to percolate in people’s minds. You know, to get a little more interest and excitement going. Allow yourself enough time to get your idea out. The most heart-breaking event is a good idea that didn’t get enough traction because it wasn’t on the market long enough. Don’t rush it. Rather take a little more time and get people onboard.


Even if there is a huge amount of interest in your event, don’t overextend yourself.  Your first event will throw things at you that you didn’t anticipate and if you have more people at your event than you can handle, things tend to snowball, and people may leave your event thinking “Great idea, badly executed” or even worse, “I won’t be coming back next year”. In our experience, it’s the first, smaller events that stick in people’s hearts and minds, rather than the bigger ones that come later on.


The biggest mistake even well-established events companies make is thinking that an event is simple. No event is simple. Believe us. Some may be a little less complicated than others – but afford the event the time it deserves. You’ll be surprised what can go wrong when you’ve slapped together the logistics around the event in a hurry, and then don’t have the time to deal with issues that may arise.


The crew you pick to help you run your event need to be the same people you’d pick by your side if you went to war. Or if there was a zombie apocalypse. Imagine yourself in the trenches, about to storm the enemy, and you look around to see who’s beside you. Does your heart fill with confidence or dread? To be 100% clear, it’s confidence you’re after. Make sure your team has your back at all times. That may translate into leaving your well-meaning but completely flaky cousin off the roster.


As the years go on, you’ll form relationships with suppliers who do a great job, deliver on time, and who you can trust to get the job done and done well. They’re the guys you’ll enjoy a post event beer with once the event has concluded. Keep these guys close, they’ll get you out of many sticky situations in the future.

However, despite your excellent relationship with these suppliers – from time to time, get other quotes in, so you can stay on top of exactly what things cost in your industry. Tooling yourself up with information is key to negotiating with your current suppliers, as well as keeping your budgets down.


Every problem has a solution. It’s really how you approach that problem that really sets you apart from everyone else. Your fondest post event memories are the ones when you reminisce about “that issue” that you had to overcome or “that insane solution” you came up with that didn’t involve chucking money at the situation.

Remember that time the mirror ball stopped working on the main dance floor, so we cut eye-holes out of the mirror ball and got the intern to wear it on the dance floor for the next five hours!” ... Oh, how you’ll laugh!

It’s fun attending a well-executed event, and it’s even more fun organising one. The key to a successful event, is to try and think of all eventualities good or bad, because if it’s on your radar you are either able to plan for it, or better deal with it when it happens. As the saying goes, if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

The events industry is jam-packed full of awesome people, whose aim in life is to provide entertainment for other people. Remember to work hard, but to enjoy yourself while you doing it. If you have the right crew and suppliers on your side, you’ll be able to achieve that.

If you’d prefer to rather just leave the logistics up to the professionals, contact Savage and Strong. With 20 years collective experience in the industry, there’s not much that hasn’t been chucked at them.

Find them on their website or their Facebook page.

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Julia Savage

Julia Savage is one of the Directors of Savage & Strong. Her early event career started in the conference industry in London. On her return to South Africa, she joined the logistics team at the Cape Town Cycle Tour. Thereafter she moved into the festival scene at AfrikaBurn as the Operations Manager. Together with her business partner Luke Armstrong, she has since branched off to start Savage & Strong (see what they did there?) where they are focusing on their combined skills in running festivals and music concerts.

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