Planner Tools: 8 Essentials for On-site Emergencies


When you’re a planner, as soon as “doors open” the job expands. You go from computer-based desk jockey to problem-solving event MacGyver, ready to solve any problem on the spot with whatever is within reach. It’s all in a days work. But it takes more than just ingenuity to get the job done. You also need a few multipurpose survival tools as well. Here are a few of the event essentials no planner should leave home without:

  • Duct Tape: I’ve used it to hem a speaker’s skirt seconds before her speech; secure a wonky pipe & drape set up; hold a podium together; strap table cloths down in gale force winds; and protect display items from theft. The possibilities are endless – but buy the super-sticky ‘duct tape’ from the hardware store, not the similarly named, cute but not as sticky craft store ‘duck’ tape.
  • Scotch Brand Moving & Storage Packaging Tape: It grips and holds boxes together better than any other tapes I’ve ever used. No matter how dog-eared the box, a couple of strips will make it shipping-worthy in seconds – good news when you’re 30 miles away from the nearest office supply store.
  • Double-Sided Tape & Adhesive-Backed Velcro: With signage, sometimes rigging it up on-site is not quite the instillation cakewalk that was originally envisioned. Regardless, now you’ve got to figure out how to make it work, so always carry a stash of Velcro and double-sided tape to give you more rigging options to play with.
  • Fishing Line: To help secure a banner or reinforce some shaky signage, fishing line is a great alternative to twine or metal wires because it’s strong, inexpensive and virtually transparent, so it’s also discreet.
  • ziptiesZip Ties: Almost as versatile as duct tape, they’re great for securing just about anything to anything else. Link them to make impromptu ‘chains,’ or just tie them to corral flower arrangements, errant wires, flyaway backdrops, secure valuables, etc.
  • Impromptu Box-Cutter: Always short of scissors during load-in? Instead of trying to open boxes with your room key, car key, ballpoint pen or fingernails, try this DIY method—all you need is thumbs: Turn a taped-shut box on its side, then push the sides of the box inwards with your thumbs. This move should push the tape away from the box and make it easy to pull off, sans scissors.
  • Small Spray Can of Air Freshener: Though I don’t use air fresheners in civilian life, I do always travel with a small spray can of it to freshen stale conference rooms, table linens that have been sitting is storage too long, and to knock out unwanted scents of events past.
  • Power Strip: Though more an essential than emergency item per se, a multi-outlet power strip is a lifesaver on days when the team is holed up in the workroom banging away on laptops, phones, and tablets. In my book, the more outlets you’ve got, the better!

Top these eight essentials off with few black and silver Sharpies, a few thumb drives, a legal pad or two, and a pile of multicolored sticky notes – and voila! You’re ready for just about any event emergency or conference conundrum.

What are your event essentials?

Photo credits:

Kate Doyle Hooper

Kate Doyle Hooper

Since establishing her own company over a decade ago, Kate has produced just about every kind of event imaginable, from executive meetings and conferences to live music performances, mobile tours, fashion shows, celebrity gifting suites, and retail events for companies such as American Media, Bloomingdale’s, Conde Nast, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR, Hearst, Macy’s, Perry Ellis, Time Inc., Wilhelmina Models and Rodale, to name a few. Kate's editorial and advertising work has been published in Budget Living, ELLE, Fit, Civilization, Conde Nast Traveler, Esquire, Essence, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Men's Fitness, Men's Health and Shape, as well as on and

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