Written by Rene Tamayo

Working harder at creating a more positive event experience for your participants and volunteers is not always easy while in the throes of executing your event. However, going the extra mile to create this positive experience can be well worth the effort.

In the heat of the moment, while the event is in full speed, event staff are faced with a gamut of participant and volunteer situations that need to be addressed. Given the extensive event protocols in place, sometimes saying “No” to someone’s request or suggestion is the easiest way to go. However each situation should be considered individually so that perhaps an answer of “Yes” can be achieved.

Traditionally, our events are a whirlwind of constant activities and, as a leader, you want to ensure schedules are met and rules are followed. With each participant’s question or situation, it is important to use your innate confidence and expertise and really “listen” to the participant’s request.

Example 1
A participant misreads the pre-event communication email and shows up 15 minutes late to the start of the walk. This participant insists that she wants to walk the missed mileage. For safety reasons, event protocol states the participant must be transported to the first pit stop to await the arrival of the other walkers. But perhaps you can meet the participant in the middle. You could deviate from protocol and transport the participant to the end of the walker pack (sometimes known as the caboose). This will give the participant satisfaction that you really listened to her request, thus creating a more positive experience for her and those with whom she comes in contact.

Example 2
Like all event professionals, we create site maps for our infrastructure. These maps are created months in advance and detail each location for our tents and other event elements. We tend to think of these maps as set in stone. However, in certain situations these maps can be altered. A volunteer captain comes to you and suggests a more effective location for a tent. Rather than dismissing his idea, listen to his reasons, consider the site’s restrictions (if any) and, if the move makes sense, make the change.

Ultimately, saying “Yes” may be harder than saying “No” to your participants and volunteers. However, as part of the goal of making a great event and providing great event customer service, challenge yourself and your staff to say “Yes” when possible. It can make the experience better for all involved – even for you.

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