If you’re a logistics person, parts 1 and 2 of this Road Trip series has given you the warm fuzzies. Putting together an alumni event with lots of pieces and parts is exciting and fun for some of us. In this last post in the series, I’m going to talk about some additional logistics BUT I’m also going to talk a little bit about how to plan for FUN on the day of the event.
Before the day of your trip there will be a few additional details to nail down and communicate to your group. Make sure you create a dedicated email list with the folks who’ve registered so you can send them the pre-trip updates before the big day arrives.
Preparing for the Bus Trip
Have at least one volunteer representing the club on the bus. They should have the map, the itinerary and contact info for the advance team (more on that below). Make sure they have the list of people riding the bus and they check in folks as they arrive. That list should include a phone number for each party so the volunteer can reach out to them if they haven’t arrived by the time the bus is leaving.
Identify a central location in your city where people will meet the bus. You might need to consider a 2nd stop if you are in a bigger city. Make sure the lot where you will meet has a well-lit area where cars will be safe. Shopping malls or ride-and-share lots are usually the best options. If this isn’t an option in your town, make sure to contact the owner of the lot where you plan to meet to let them know that your group will be parking there and provide them with your contact number.
Factor in wait time at your meet-up location to your overall transportation timeline. Make sure people know what time the bus will arrive, how long it will wait and when it will leave. Provide contact information for the volunteer who will be on the bus so people know how to reach him or her if they are delayed.
Finally, make sure that the transportation company has factored in their parking at your destination. Do they need a parking pass or will they park offsite? Don’t forget to get contact info for your driver.
Getting Your Team Ready for the Day of the Event
I recommend sending an “Advance Team” to the event site just prior to the arrival of the group. The Advance Team can decorate, stake out parking, prepare the tailgating area, and greet alumni who arrive early. Identify who will be part of the Advance Team and when they need to arrive.
Find out from your catering or tailgating vendor if you can have decorations and/or what limitations they might have. Once you know what’s permitted, pack up a box for the Advance Team to take with them so they can decorate before the alumni arrive.
Ticket Distribution Preparation
I have had very few road trips where where I didn’t have to distribute tickets to our group. If you get a block of tickets, the ticket office will likely prefer to send those tickets to you to distribute. This is not my favorite thing but I’ve gotten efficient at handling this. Here are my recommendations:
- Assign the tickets in the order they were purchased
- Organize the groups of tickets into sealed envelopes with the name of the person who registered on the outside. They will be ready for easy pick up or to be left at Will Call.
- I do not recommend mailing the tickets unless you are also collecting postage. This can get very expensive and frankly, having alumni pick them up at your pre-event is just another way to get them to join the fun!
- Communicate the days and times for your ticket distribution (if you are going to allow pick ups before the day of the game).
- Make sure you also communicate when any unclaimed tickets will be available at Will Call and then make sure the tickets are at Will Call at the time promised. I also recommend talking with the Will Call manager before the day of the event to work out details. This can help you avoid any surprises.
- If you find that you have extra tickets, post them on Stub Hub. Many times you can post the tickets for electronic download and let Stub Hub handle the rest!
Change of Plans & Ticket Exchanges
One of the most common requests that I get prior to big road trips is the inevitable “my plans have changed.” I try to accommodate those requests by connecting those folks with someone else who wants to join especially if we have run out of seats or tickets. Rather than being a bottleneck in those requests, I’ve created a Ticket Exchange page on our chapter website where people can post what they have or find what they need. This gives people the opportunity to communicate with each other, negotiate prices and make the exchange without my involvement. Even better, sometimes the person who can’t attend will simply donate those items to the club for us to sell and apply the proceeds to our fundraising goal.
Look for an upcoming post on how to create a Ticket Exchange page on your AlumniSpaces website.
Sometimes this isn’t possible however and the person just needs a refund. This can usually be facilitated by contacting your payment vendor to return the funds (assuming a ticket or other item included in the prices hasn’t already been provided or been purchased outside of your packages).
The Big Day
At last, the big day has arrived. Everyone is excited and eagerly awaiting the trip. Now’s the time that all those last details will come into play.
- Have some folks outside the venue to welcome your guests and other alumni. In the past we have stationed some volunteers outside the venue with pom-poms and swag to giveaway for free.
- If the venue is difficult to find, help your alumni find their way. We once had a catered event that was in the basement of the arena. It was not easy to find. One of our awesome and crafty leaders created a set of feet (we’re Tar Heels) that navigated the way. Balloons and signs also guided them.
- Have a registration table ready so your guests can check-in as they arrive. Have name tags available.
- Greet your guests as they arrive. This seems so obvious but I’ve worked events where the staff were too busy talking to each other or friends and ignoring the guests.
- Have maps (arena, restrooms, etc), instructions, itineraries, and menus available.
- Plan for FUN! Give out swag. Do school cheers. Sing your fight song. Take lots of pictures!
Finally, Be Prepared for Questions. Lots of Questions.
The purpose of the Road Trip series is to prepare you for the basics but I guarantee you you will get lots of questions that will come out of nowhere prior during your prep. Everything from special dietary restrictions to website problems. Be patient but prompt in responding so you can resolve them as quickly. You may not be able to respond to every request in a way that makes the event possible for each requestor so don’t take it personally. Focus on what you can do and stay positive!
Hopefully, this 3 part series has given you a good start on planning your next road trip. Did I miss something? I’d love to hear from you! Tell me about it.