Where the magic happens or where the wheels fall off, Event Operations lies at the intersection of what was sold – to participants, sponsors, host venues, volunteers, and everyone in between. Great Event Operations can make or break an event, and the difference between the two begins (and ends) with your team. After all, teamwork makes the dream work…
As food for thought, here are some of the people you’ll want by your side for the big race.
Event Director: Typically, the event director is like the quarterback, with special teams in charge of the detail work. If you’re the event director and have built a quality event timeline and thought through the details, come game day, your operations team should be able run smoothly and efficiently to deliver the best possible event for all involved.
Volunteer Coordinator: This person could be responsible for recruiting volunteers, identifying volunteer needs (course marshals, registration area, greeters, parking staff, signage or course repair crew, etc.) as well as developing a deployment plan, coordinating distribution of volunteer swag and meals, and providing any training required.
Housing/Host Housing Coordinator: Some events work closely or solely with their Sports Commissions and CVBs on a negotiated housing offer for participants, sponsors, spectators, etc. Other events encourage riders to seek host housing and provide a matching service for hosts and athletes.
Crew Chief: The crew chief is typically involved with all aspects of venue construction. From executing a venue plan – where do the tents, Porta-Potties, generators, medical staff and dumpsters go – to a sponsor signage plan, as well as load-in/load-out schedules, this person is in charge of the staff or volunteers responsible for the making of the venue.
Expo Manager: Because expos usually involve dealing with sponsors or other paying customers, it’s important to have somebody dedicated to creating and implementing an Expo map, and making sure everybody gets placed according to their contractual needs. Some sponsors or vendors may want to avoid being placed next to a competing brand, for example. Others may wish to be next to brands they partner with frequently. The Expo Manager can make sure all of these types of issues are thought out in advance and addressed when making the layout and then they are responsible for making sure everybody is placed according to plan.
Onsite Registration Manager: In many cases this is the first face a customer sees when they arrive at the event, so it’s important that the experience is a good one. A pleasant first stop can set the tone for the rest of the day. The registration manager could be responsible for: keeping lines moving, day of registration sales, organizing competitor packets/goodie bags, overseeing registration staff volunteers, making sure there is paper in the printer and enough safety pins to go around. They might also be responsible for organizing start lists or posting results onsite. This is most definitely a job for a people person!
Transportation Coordinator: Depending on the type of event, this could be a very big and complicated job or it could be as easy as coordinating rides to the airport. In the event of a large road race it could entail numbering cars in the caravan, assigning wheel and lead cars to various race categories, assigning drivers to cars, coordinating hired, non-owned vehicle insurance, staging the vehicles and equipping them with race radios, and much, much more. Or it could be as simple as driving volunteers to and from their marshalling posts, and making sure race officials get a ride back to their hotel after racing is concluded.
Anti-Doping Coordinator: If your event has anti-doping on site, you will likely need to provide support to the anti-doping officials. This could entail setting up the control areas, assuring privacy, making sure fluids are available for athletes. It could also mean making sure the chaperones are at the finish line to “grab” the riders selected for testing and making sure that the rider numbers are posted and in a visible location.
Parking Coordinator: If your event has parking, this person would in charge of laying out the parking area, collecting parking fees (if any), deploying parking directional signage, and outfitting staff and volunteers with things like safety vests, flags or lights to assist.
Crisis Management/Spokesperson: Nobody wants to think about event crisis or calamity, but it’s very important to do so in advance. In addition to the creation of a crisis plan (evacuation, medical emergency, mass casualty, etc.) there needs to be somebody on-site who is responsible for coordinating communication outward. In many cases this duty falls to the Event Director, but it is important to know who controls the flow of information if the unthinkable happens. This assures continuity of information being provided, and assures somebody is responsible for running point and working with any relevant local authorities on messaging.
Communications Coordinator: This job also runs the gamut. From writing pre- and post-event press releases to issuing media credentials onsite, enforcing photo zones, and organizing post-event press conferences, this person is responsible for showing off the bike race and telling the stories. They should also be actively monitoring social media for live feedback and commentary about the events, addressing questions and pushing out social content about the race. In many ways, you could think of this person as the “Master of Stoke.”
Awards Ceremony/Podium Manager: This person may make sure that local dignitaries know how to present a big check or a jersey to race winners, provide the emcee or announcer with the names of winners, serve as podium presenter themselves, organize the awards backstage, wrangle athletes, hand out snacks and hot beverages back stage, and wipe off dirty faces before they go on stage. In other words, this person is the show runner, and makes sure that the podium is a great experience for everybody involved.