From lighting to forecasting, here are some tools that will help make your next outdoor event flawless.
Weather is often the most critical factor in outdoor events. Will you have to move the party indoors? Rent a tent? Arrange for ground coverings over muddy areas?
Now, you can take some of the guesswork out of your planning with the services of Precision Weather. This highly trained group of meteorologists will provide you with a seven- or 10-day report on the weather forecast for your event’s exact location. Reports are emailed each morning, and the staff is also available by phone.
Precision Weather was on the job for Reese Witherspoon’s wedding, The Academy Awards, Wolfgang Puck Catering events and Warner Brothers Studios. During her presentation at the 2012 Event Solutions Idea Factory, Executive Director of Warner Brothers’ Special Events Hillary Harris described a panicked phone call she made to Precision Weather hours before an event when skies were threatening. “They told me the rain would stop on the far side of the property, and wouldn’t reach my event,” she said. “They were exactly right.”
Bring on the Bikes
People who choose to avoid parking hassles at festivals and outdoor concerts are turning to bikes as an alternative mode of transportation. But when they get to the venue, where do they park safely and securely? If they’re lucky, the event organizers have arranged for a bike valet service.
This is basically a roped off area where bikers can leave their bikes for free while they are at the event. Typically paid for by the organizer or a sponsor, these services are usually offered in cooperation with a local nonprofit or association that promotes biking. Not only does a valet service help provide a clean event appearance, it can increase attendance and provide sponsorship opportunities.
“Our service is growing,” says Jamie Wine, executive director of Bike Easy in New Orleans. “We parked 1,600 bikes at 16 events in 2011.”
For a list of cities that have organizations that promote bikes, visit the Alliance for Biking and Walking.
EVENT: The 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open on the PGA Golf Tour
ATTENDEES: 500,000 over seven days goals: 90 percent of tournament waste diverted from landfills and 70 percent of total waste being recovered in some form
Strategy 1: Recruit and train volunteer “Recycle Ambassadors” to help people use the recycle bins properly
Strategy 2: Work with each vendor to determine what was being brought onto the site, and recommend green alternatives to containers, packaging, giveaways, food and beverage
Strategy 3: Recycling stations in high traffic areas
Strategy 4: Reusing recycled wastewater from kitchens in portable toilets
Strategy 5: Solar-powered compacters on the course
RESULT: Goals met!
Know your Site
Outdoor event planner Richard Martin reached into his bag of tricks at the 2012 Event Solutions Idea Factory to share site inspection tips with other planners. Here are some of the highlights of his presentation:
• Check the site thoroughly for obstacles that can be overhead, underground or on the surface. Examples: trees, fire hydrants, existing lighting, animals, gas lines, power lines, underground sprinklers. Call the local utility company to locate and mark all underground obstacles.
• Check with local authorities on any nearby construction sites that may interfere with your event. Find out if there are any other events scheduled for the same time as yours.
• Google Earth can be a useful tool for seeing an overall view of your site, along with entrance and egress points, but be careful—it’s often out of date and should not substitute for an in-person site inspection.
• Find out if local schools will be willing to offer parking and buses to the event.
• Have an evacuation plan and rehearse it with all staff.
At your next event, consider blending the entertainment with the venue’s architecture. At a recent event at the Gaylord Palms, musical group Mass Ensemble erected an Earth Harp—a large-scale instrument with strings that ran from the stage, over the crowd and up to the roofline of the adjacent building. The harp produced an eerie, haunting melody that was accompanied by other unusual instruments such as a drum orb.
Event Solutions magazine
by Ann Turner