Friday, July 9, 2010

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Women

A year ago, when we first started planning this event, it all seemed so simple. I knew it was going to be a lot of work, of course. I had, at least, done similar things before--although it was at college, so I had a support team of fellow graduate students to run the event with me, plus the school arranged rooms and such for us fairly easily, so one didn't need to deal with that mess. Still, it didn't seem out of the range of possibility to run (and finance) an event for 100 people with just two people working on it part time.

Perhaps you can see where this post is going. It is, indeed, hard to do a big event with just two people, even two people who spend a majority of their time on it for the past 3 months of unemployment. There is a lot to do, publicity-wise, arrangement-wise, planning-wise, etc. And everything costs more than you expect, even when you priced it a year ago.

I priced a bus tour last year. I made one or two calls, considered that good enough, and tacked on a small amount for other costs and divided by the number of people I thought we would get. That became the price we charged per person for the tour. Of course, I didn't actually book the bus then. No, I waited. Last month I started calling around but now the price seemed to be double what I had in my notes last year. Plus we didn't get as many people and there is an economy of scale which happens with buses. If you are just large enough of a group to not fit in one bus, you rent the larger and more expensive bus. But if you are JUST one person over the size for the smaller bus, the bigger bus is really too expensive for such a small group. There never seems to be a medium sized bus.

Today I rented a van for our event. It is not the same as having a tour bus but our people will just have to survive. They are getting a nice tour at a cheap price and we simply can't afford to lose that much money with a bus, especially unemployed as we are.

I called this post "The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Women" but really I don't think I had the best laid plans at all. I fooled myself into thinking I had planned, but really I should have done much more, both when initially pricing and then, finally, in booking. I should have started sooner and done more. That has been true of so many things throughout this event. I've learned a great deal. One thing I've learned is that planning a big event takes time, and there are many things I should have done 4 months ago which I wish I had done.

Like the poor mouse in the Robert Burns poem, my plans have gone awry. Things are not always going as I want. That seems to be the way of things. But one thing which might have helped is starting earlier.

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