2 Do Your Homework
A few hours of planning and preparation can save you hours of trouble on the day of the event. Not only do you want to consider logistics related to your event you want to be aware of things going on in the outside world that might affect your plans. Are you trying to run an alleycat on St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago? Maybe there’s a better weekend when there won’t be a gigantic parade, massive traffic jams and hordes of drunken people in green infiltrating the city.
While you can neither predict nor control the weather, it’s never a bad idea to consider the possibilities. Will a severe thunderstorm wipe out your polo tournament plans? And if dozens of people come to town for an outdoor event that isn’t happening, can you at least entertain them until the storm passes?
Again, you can’t plan for every possible situation, but a successful event promoter is going to have their bases covered, and a Plan B.
3 Communication is Key
There’s probably nothing that makes people more upset than a lack of communication. Thankfully, most communication failures are easily avoided by simply putting forth an effort to do so. This includes not taking it for granted that people will read printed materials or listen to verbal commands. As the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” But it pays to consider the lowest common denominator, and make critical information as readily available as possible. An element of mystery is desirable, but participants are more likely to show up if they have some idea about the event. Alleycats can be a few miles around town full of face painting or all day affairs leaving even the best winded—as a racer it’s good to know what you’re getting into.
4 Location, Location, Location
An event’s location can be as crucial as any other factor, and for a multitude of reasons. Contrary to the popular saying, familiarity breeds good attendance, not contempt. Do all of your local alleycats start at the same place? If so, it’s for a good reason. And the fact that people are used to going there makes it a logical choice for your event, too. Even if the event itself can go off in foul weather, people will need somewhere to congregate at the start/end. Sometimes you can’t avoid hosting an event in a bad location. It just so happens that some of the best places to hold under the radar events are in less than savory neighborhoods. When this is the case, it’s a good idea to make your out of town guests aware of their surroundings, and if possible make adjustments and accommodations accordingly. For example, if bikes are likely to get stolen, remind people to use their locks. Even though it’s technically not your fault, you don’t want everyone’s event recap to include, “and then Joey Bagadonuts’ bike disappeared.” If you are expecting out of town visitors few things can make their stay better than a good map and a listing of grocery stores, restaurants, bike shops and even local’s contact information.
Few successful events happen without a small army of people pitching in behind the scenes. While doing it yourself is truly the only way to be sure it is done right, including others will spread out the work and bring enthusiasm about the event to that many more people. In some cases creative checkpoint planning can all but eliminate the need for more than a few night-of volunteers, but other events leave no way around volunteers actually on-call during the event. Keeping them dry and safe at their appointed spots is key, with some system to call them in from far off posts. It should go without saying, but you shouldn’t have anything going on at checkpoints that could land someone in jail. Expect your volunteers to bail or be late, build some stand-ins and extra time into things and avoid fighting with your friends.