noun (plural) /lō-/ /ləˈjistiks/
1. The detailed coordination of a complex operation involving many people, facilities, or supplies
o the logistics and costs of a vaccination campaign
2. The organization of moving, housing, and supplying troops and equipment
3. The aspect of an event that will go to complete hell if planned improperly.
Have you ever been en route to an important meeting, making great time and knowing that everything’s falling into place perfectly, only to find yourself running 20 minutes behind schedule because of a tube delay or some kind of traffic travesty? I’d assume that you have, unless you live out in the middle of nowhere and have never had to contend with city traffic. Remember how stressed out you were, and how unimpressed people were when you showed up late and disheveled? Now, multiply that by about a thousand, and that’s what you’ll experience if logistics aren’t sorted out properly before an event.
Every single event will require some manner of shipping or transportation from points A to B (or more, depending on the event), and all have to be coordinated properly.
What kinds of things will need shipping? This isn’t a huge event!
Unless you’re holding an event at a vineyard or brewery, refreshments will have to be shipped.
Unless there is catering onsite, food will have to be delivered.
Unless you have installed transporter technology, allowing your staff to materialise onsite rather magically, they will have to arrange transportation. Same goes for performers, speakers, bridal party/guests, etc.
Got it? Excellent.
Sorting it all out
Your logistic plans should be among the first things you sort out when planning your event. As soon as the event itself has been established, you have to consider every single thing needed to make it happen, and how those things are going to get from A to B. Get maps of the venue areas and determine the best routes to take for all deliverables—both human and supply-related. Map out those routes in highlighter or coloured pen, and add the maps (along with written directions, both for driving and public transport) into itineraries for every single person involved in the event.
In those itineraries, you’ll also be adding a printed contact sheet for all parties involved: planners, managers, caterers, transport companies, guests… everyone. You’ll have their full names, phone numbers (office and mobile), email addresses, AND alternate contacts for the major players in case you can’t get through in case of emergency. You can also use these folders for additional info that your team will need: information about dress codes, event timing, foreseeable issues that may arise, etc.
• Always have an alternate route to the venue just in case of a traffic issue: knowing what kind of a sense of humour the universe seems to have, you’ll end up contending with a turned-over poultry truck in the middle of the exact road you’ve planned to drive the guest of honour down. Have other routes available, and get those routes printed out and added to the itinerary folders that you’ve provided everyone.
• Be sure to speak to your transport people about the alternate routes ahead of time so they’re aware of backup plans.
• Add a 20-30 minute time allowance to all estimated arrival times: if something has to arrive by 3pm, tell everyone it has to be there by 2:30—just in case of a delay, you’re still likely to have it by the time you actually need it.
• Have a printed list of taxi companies in the itinerary folders in case any guests are unable to drive themselves home post-event. It’s just a good thing to have on hand.