There has been a lot of talk lately about creating smart cities. What exactly is a smart city? No one really knows, but the idea is this: All aspects of a city are online and integrated to make it efficient and easy to navigate.
When planning my first major event, the one thing I did not anticipate was the need to build consensus. I figured I would tell people about the MidPoint Music Festival and everyone would jump on board. I was very, very wrong.
I remember pitching potential sponsors, the venues, the media, etc. and walking away very frustrated. I was baffled by the negative or ambivalent response; however, I kept at it. It was not because I had a tough skin. I just wanted to see the idea become reality.
As people change their preference from buying things to buying experiences, the number of new events is growing rapidly. According to IBIS Word, the event industry currently boasts an annual growth of 4.8%. Since there are only so many days in a year – and hours in a day – it’s getting harder and harder to find the right time to have an event.
One tricky aspect of event planning is handling capacity. Long lines and bottlenecks are indicators that capacity has not been properly addressed. Or has it?
Signs and wayfinding might be the most overlooked aspect of an event. When I started doing events in 2002, I got stuck with this job and did not care for it one bit. I was ill prepared my first time out. I just bought a bunch of bungee cords, zip ties, rope, etc. and drove to Over the Rhine (Cincinnati, OH) with a car full of vinyl banners. All the bars participating in the MidPoint Music Festival were supposed to get a banner, but no two venues were the same. Some venues had nothing to attach a banner to. Other venues required a longer ladder than I had.
I founded Bunbury in 2012. The event takes place in downtown Cincinnati along the Ohio River. One of the stages – sponsored by the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) – sits at the bottom of the Serpentine Wall. It’s a great location for a stage because people watching the bands can see the river, the boats going by, and the Newport skyline…except when it floods.
After producing events for a few years, I wondered what I could have done differently in college to better prepare for my future. There were not any Event Management degrees at Miami University.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in college, so I opted for a general business major. I was a bit concerned that I didn’t have a focus. I don’t know how many times I was told it was better to be a master of one as opposed to a jack-of-all-trades.
It turns out, my general business degree was ideal; however, all my electives should have been in Project Management and City Planning.
Back in 2006, I had the good fortune of meeting Jim Steeg. For those of you that don’t know Jim, let’s just say many people consider him one of the people that made the Super Bowl what it is today. He was with the NFL for 35 years and from 1979 to 2004, he oversaw the special events department.
I was relatively new to event planning when I met him. The first question I asked was what tools did he use to make his job easier. I was using spreadsheets to track everything and I thought there had to be a better way. Much to my surprise, Jim said he used spreadsheets too.
Every time I’m on Facebook, I come across some kind of hack. I’m sure you’ve seen how everyday items can be used to solve everyday problems. This is common place during an event. Things happen and you must pull a MacGyver to keep things moving forward.
I came across a couple great hacks recently. One was storing small cables (e.g., phone, USB, etc.) in toilet paper tubes. Another was putting your phone in Airplane Mode so it will charge twice as fast.
I used to have a survival backpack. It’s no longer big enough, so I keep a bin in my car with the following: