"Hurry Up and Wait" could be a losing event planning strategy

The concept is almost as important as not getting caught being drunk on the job.  "Hurry Up and Wait" is all about timing.  And everyone knows, in the event world, timing is everything. The key to success for any event is to make sure the production schedule is moving with the precision of a Swiss time piece.

However, in an effort to be super efficient and mega diligent about event planning, coordinators have adopted “Hurry Up and Wait” as a mantra for planning successful events.

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The origin of the phrase comes from the military.  Soldiers were required to rush ahead to the next post only to be forced to wait around for hours for something to happen.  There are also many references to air travel when talking about the "hurry up and wait" mantra.  Rushing to get to the airport two hours before the flight departs only to be delayed two hours on the tarmac waiting for “clearance from the tower.”

Event planning works similarly.  In an effort to be over prepared (as opposed to being under prepared) event coordinators regularly require event components like staging, furniture rentals, volunteers and AV equipment to be present at the event long before truly necessary.

The "hurry up and wait" strategy makes organizers feel good because they have control.  The essential components are present and accounted for.  And while this good intentioned, type “A” strategy makes the organizer feel prepared, I’m not so sure everyone else feels the same way.

-          Asking a large group of volunteers to "hurry up and wait" can be frustrating for the volunteer staff.  Volunteers like to feel utilized and helpful.  Being immobile makes them question if they’re really needed.

-          Asking caterers to "hurry up and wait" could result in cold food, warm drinks and irritated servers.

-          Asking musicians to "hurry up and wait" could result in a lackluster performance.

-          Asking sponsors to "hurry up and wait" could result in an eye roll and a “we’ll have to reconsider supporting next year’s event.”

"Hurry up and wait" gives the organizer control and in the occasional high profile situation the strategy might serve the event well.  However, while it’s hard to imagine a world revolving around any other universe other than the event currently being worked on. It’s important for event planners to also realize that people’s time is extremely valuable and this strategy needs to be used sparingly.

Deploying the "hurry up and wait" strategy could be a losing battle when not 100% necessary.

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