Planning an Event? Start with Building Relationships

Posted on February 9, 2017

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By Kiki Setterlund

It’s that time again. Event planning season. As the beginning of another tour year draws upon us here at Event 360, I like to take some time to reflect on what and who it takes to pull off an event like the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. Much like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes roughly 11 separate jurisdictions and 40 local contacts to pull off the three day, 60-mile journey.

In my experience in the event planning world, I’ve learned that one of the best ways to ensure a successful event is to consider your jurisdictional contacts as your teammates. Event planning is not a one-person job. And much like relying on your work colleagues to help execute the event when the big day comes, your relationships with local city contacts are vital in the planning process. Establishing strong working relationships based on mutual respect and trust creates a win/win for both sides. Your contacts develop “buy in” to your event and the desire for your participants to have an unforgettable experience. And you, in turn, can take comfort in knowing the local city contacts have your back and are doing their part to keep your constituents connected to the communities you pass through.

My planning usually begins with a city administrator or parks and recreation contact. I consider these people to be my one stop shop for everything. Each city I work with has different requirements for event planning and permitting. That’s why these teammates are invaluable to me. They let me know what needs to done and when. Whether it’s health permits, route notification and approval, tent and fire inspections, sales permits, community notification or police support (need I go on?). They also let me know who needs to be pulled into the planning process. They point me in the right direction, and off I run!

Due to the sheer size and enormity of an event like the Komen 3-Day, it’s impossible for me to be in multiple places at once. Although, believe me, I’ve tried! When planning for two separate 3-Day® events across the country, it’s simply not possible to be on top of all of the cities’ plans and activities that may affect our event. I can’t tell you the number of times when one of my “local teammates” has contacted me to give me a heads up on a potential issue. Whether it’s a police officer who notices unplanned construction at one of my pit stops or a public works contact who alerts me to flooding along a portion of the route, my local teammates have saved me from many hours of headaches and hair pulling. They have given me extra time to come up with alternative plans prior to the start of the event.

I have also been surprised by how other connections have put on their capes and flown in to save the day. When losing a site at the 11th hour last year, I was in full on “scramble mode.”  I located a potential site and noticed the name of the leasing manager was a familiar one. After doing a little digging around, I realized she was a longtime volunteer for our event. I reached out to her and within a day, I had secured a new site. Voila! Another local teammate saves the day!

These examples barely scratch the surface of how instrumental jurisdictional contacts are to the overall event experience. But I hope they give you an idea of how key each relationship is and how establishing solid relationships from the beginning can only help you produce a strong and safe event.

Kiki has worked in the event world for over 15 years, at Event 360 since 2012. From obtaining permits for a route to working with volunteers to wrangling in the entertainment, she enjoys the fast paced environment and working outside in the elements with her colleagues. In her free time, Kiki enjoys hanging out with her husband and kids, cooking, and volunteering as a firefighter in her local community.

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