Why is Vacation Planning so Difficult for Event Professionals?


Event professionals are good planners right?

So why is it then, that when it comes to  "planning" for vacation we often fail miserably?

Certainly one of the main challenges is that we look for the “perfect” time to get away. It may not exist.

We roll from one deadline to the next with no ideal time for a break.

But that shouldn't mean a vacation isn’t possible. Nor does it change the fact that we all absolutely need some time away to refresh.

It’s proven that both our work and we personally will benefit.

We just need to set our sights and our minds to it.

Here's how...

Plan to "plan" your vacation with the same diligence that you undertake your grandest production!

As with any event, It’s all in the details!

And more than anything, it’s about creating the mental conditions that allow you to confidently walk away and have a meaningful rest.

Here are some thoughts on planning a great escape.

Whether you are hoping to go off the grid completely (yes it IS possible and the ultimate option for a truly beneficial holiday) or getting away but keeping your connection to a minimum, all it takes is some foresight and planning…and you are good at that right?


  • If you are really trying to go off the grid, make it clear to everyone. We live in a 24/7/365 world of communication and often times there are conflicting expectations. If you really need a break and hope to not be in touch, say so and discuss how this can happen with your boss, team and clients. It is your vacation and you have the right to try to make it whatever you need it to be.
  • Don’t be afraid (or too stubborn) to ask for help to cover your work. We all need vacation. Would you say no if someone asked you?
  • Put “Vacation Planning” on your calendar every day for at least two weeks prior to leaving. Far too often we think we can accomplish everything in the last day or two and end up in a last-minute frenzywhich in turn convinces us that we really shouldn’t be going away or disconnecting. Create a to-do list and assign each task to a day. Not only does this help ensure that everything is covered but it makes the planning more manageable…because you are already busy right?


Tell your clients and suppliers.

  • Notify each client and supplier that you are currently interacting with at least 2 weeks prior (more if necessary) to your departure. Let them know the dates you will be away but consider having a quick status review as well. Ask if they can think of anything they might need. This pro-active step works wonders to get them thinking ahead and that’s what you want. Issues covered now could avoid a holiday interruption.
  • Let them know you will touch base with them as soon as you return or better still schedule a call or a meeting. With a firm date in the calendar, they can relax knowing exactly when they will hear from you and you can relax knowing the expectations have been set.
  • Introduce any co-workers by phone or in person who will be covering your work while you are away. This gives a greater comfort level on both sides. Try to give your client only one point of contact but if you have to give more than one be clear who to call for what. The more specific you can be the less room for confusion. Make sure they have all options of contact information. Do this in writing in a specific message so you make it easy for them to refer to if necessary.
  • If a statutory holiday falls during your vacation and the office will be closed, be sure that your out-of-state/province or out-of country clients are made aware. Not all holidays are national and most countries do not share similar statutory vacation days. It’s all about avoiding panic.
  • When giving your “away dates”, make the last “available” day one day prior to your actual departure. That way you avoid last minute panics and have one day to take care of things that you need to.

Talk to your team and your boss…

  • If someone will be covering your work while you are away, meet with he or she or the team early to review everything. Then meet again just before you leave. The time between allows for questions or concerns to float to the surface. Schedule a meeting for your return to review everything. It’s amazing the amount of comfort this unconsciously generates.
  • Don’t leave your contact information with everyone if you don’t want everyone to contact you. Give your vacation contact information only to key individuals (or just one) and review your expectations. Under what circumstances (if any) should/would you like them to contact you (be crystal clear and give examples), when can they expect a response (i.e. how often are you checking for messages by phone/email/text), are there any days when you are absolutely unavailable due to travel etc. Another idea is to pre-set a date and time when you will touch base. This stops the “checking every day” scenario and helps create a measure for whether something can wait.
  • Meet with your boss (unless you are the boss) ahead of time as well. This is another great time to be pro-active. Let them know your plans for coverage, which clients (if any) you think may need something, how you’ve addressed it, who has your contact information and ask if they have any concerns.


  • Try to keep your calendar clear on your last day in the office. ( I promise you, the day will fill up anyway.) Keep it open for everything YOU want to finish up.
  • Tidy your workspace and clean up messages and email before you leave. Not only does this ensure that you remember any unfinished details, but it really helps draw a line to leave work behind. Mentally it says…if everything is tidied up, I am free to forget it all and relax. Plus it’s nice to come back to.
  • Record phone and online vacation messages ahead of time. Put a reminder on your calendar to set them. Make this the last thing you do before leaving the office. Realizing you have forgotten to do this when you are sitting on the plane…or worse halfway through your vacation doesn’t help the relaxation factor!

Bonus thoughts:

  • Turn your vacation time into an opportunity. Let someone who is new or learning step up to the plate by leaving them an assignment or two that helps you while you are away…great for their confidence and professional development and an excellent learning moment when you return and review their experience. Set clear guidelines and expectations to ensure success. This is also a great way to practice “letting go” if you are inclined to believe that no one else can help!
  • Leave social media behind. Very often the lines are blurred between social and business when it comes to our online communities. If you are regularly connecting in social forums while you are away, you are likely to run into people or comments that put your head back at work. Best to stay away altogether if you really want a break. Post your vacation photos later.

Remember, it’s all about creating the circumstances that allow you to have the best break possible.

Plan well…and have a great vacation!!!




Post by Margaret Johnston, eventswork.com

As a career event professional, Margaret brings valuable insight and knowledge to the recruitment, management and development of high-performance teams for the event industry. A strategic and inspiring leader, Margaret has held executive roles for several global event management companies and key roles in the start up and orchestration of many high profile and international events.


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