Looking to run your events more efficiently and create more-meaningful experiences for participants? There are countless forms of technology that can help event professionals do their job better. You may already have access to some of these for free; others, you can purchase or rent for a reasonable price.
Here’s a look at some tools you should consider for planning and executing your events.
GPS technology is a huge time- and money-saver. In the old days, we had to print out hundreds of pages with directions to rest stops along our events. Now, we upload these directions for staff, volunteers and participants to access.
We’ve also used GPS technology to track important vehicles (e.g. the lead car or the caboose) on event day. And because you know where participants are along the route, you can better allocate staff and volunteers to where the majority of the participants are. That results in smoother operations and a more satisfying participant experience. Plus, it allows us to better inform the police on where to place officers and when to release them from duty.
If you haven’t invested in GPS technology yet, we recommend doing it sooner rather than later. When you consider how much you’d otherwise spend creating and printing out directions, it pays for itself quickly. And don’t forget: GPS units are also available for rent.
Barcode scanners make credentialing and other tasks much easier. Participants can print their credentials in advance and check in to the event faster. Checking participants in and out of rest stops and main sites is faster, too.
Using cell phones and smartphones is a no-brainer. Most of your staff and volunteers already have one. If they don’t, lend them one for the event. We use phones for all kinds of things, like getting weather updates, conversing via text messages, blasting out emergency contingency instructions and sending documents electronically (e.g. site permits).
For years, we relied on Excel spreadsheets to help manage our events. But think of all the details you need to account for. Site addresses. Vendor information. Supplies to order — and their costs. The list goes on. At some point, we realized having dozens of spreadsheets to collect all this information didn’t cut it anymore.
Enter Salesforce.com. Now, you can input information once and create all the reports you need with the push of a button. And because this application lives in the cloud, everyone on the team can access it from anywhere and the data is always up to date.
The i-STAT® system should be a staple at all endurance events. We use this handheld device to detect electrolyte imbalances that could signal hyponatremia. Another potential lifesaver is the automated external defibrillator (AED), which can restore a normal heart rhythm in cases of sudden cardiac arrest.
Besides being free, Google Earth is the most accurate tool for route planning and site scouting that we’ve tested. How precise is Google Earth? You can use it as you develop a certified route. Or, you can overlay your site maps with it to verify the positioning of infrastructure elements.
Google Earth really brings the efficiency and quality of event planning to another level. And when jurisdictions see how professional you are, they’ll be more willing to work with you.
“Patrick and Sarah’s Experience Hub” blog posts will be featured monthly. Director of Event Production Sarah Coniglio and Director of Event Production Patrick Riley have many years of hands-on experience in almost every aspect of event operations and production.