Let the games begin – our top tips for delivering a successful sporting event


Let the games begin – our top tips for delivering a successful sporting event

Let the games begin – our top tips for delivering a successful sporting event

What makes a successful sporting event?

Whether it’s the World Cup, Wimbledon, Ascot or Silverstone, the summer is a busy time for major sporting events. However, while fans gear up for a few months of fun, for the organisers who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes for many months, the event marks the end of a lot of planning and hard work.

Having worked with many clients over the years who are responsible for organising major sporting events, most recently Royal Ascot, we understand that there is a huge difference between delivering an event and running a successful and memorable event. So here are our top tips to ensure your event is an experience enjoyed by all.

It’s all in the preparation

When it comes to organising a major sporting event, there are a lot of balls to juggle, so the key is to plan well in advance. Before a five day event like Royal Ascot, event organisers will have already started planning for the following year.

Agreeing your budget is a top priority as events on this scale require huge upfront investment. Caterers, front of house staff, security professionals, health and safety experts and fire wardens, will be in demand during busy times, so booking them early is essential.

Generating income from ticket sales should be front and centre on your list of priorities and will require a marketing campaign to be planned and in place at least six months in advance. Your campaign will need to generate early interest in your event and maintain momentum until the last ticket is sold. Royal Ascot has already confirmed dates for 2019 and is encouraging guests to register their interest in order to be the first to know when tickets go on sale.

Assemble your team

Hospitality is all about people, so making sure you have a team in place that you can trust to deliver the guest experience you want is essential to making your event a success.

With events that only happen once a year, it is likely that the majority of your team will be made up of volunteers and temporary staff; however, this should not mean that you put any less effort into your recruitment campaign. Remember, those you recruit will be the faces of your event, they will be on the frontline and interacting with your guests, so it’s vital that they understand your vision and what they need to do to make it happen.

Design a comprehensive job description, hold interviews and assess each candidate carefully against specific criteria. Prioritise candidates who can demonstrate they are guest focused, self-motivated, and great communicators who can think on their feet. Royal week at Ascot is their busiest week of the year with staff numbers on site increasing from 143 to over 6,000 - working a major sporting event is not for the faint of heart.

Finally, when you find hardworking, reliable team members, keep in touch with them as getting good staff back again next year will definitely be a bonus.

Training takes priority

For your event to run smoothly, you need your team to work together like a well-oiled machine. If you recruit the right people, this should come down to your training. Some of your team may have little or no event experience and so will require basic hospitality training, but even those who have a lot of event experience will need training specific to your event.

Incorporate detailed briefings, orientation and team-building into your training programme, as it’s important for you and any managers to get to know the team. Identify key strengths and weaknesses to ensure you place people where they will exceed expectations.

Remember to also devise strategies for when things don’t quite go according to plan, as this is likely to happen with events of this size — prepare your team to be able to confidently deal with anything as and when it comes up. Ensure you plan for your busiest days or biggest rush by making sure you have enough staff at key pressure points to pre-empt problems. Ascot use walkie talkies, with head office at the other end within seconds to address problems —this is a great way to keep the lines of communication open with staff at all times.

Keep motivation high

If you have ever worked at an event – you will know it’s tough. With long hours spent on your feet, dealing with guests can sometimes be a challenge, even for the most experienced customer service expert. So, keeping your team motivated and feeling supported is vital for good morale.

Remember, if you have a team of temps, it is most likely that they will not know each other or have worked together before, so creating team spirit is a challenge. That’s where your team leaders and managers need to excel and lead by example, ensuring their energy and mood spread to their team, which will then, in turn, spread to your guests. They need to constantly promote the behaviours you expect to see by staying upbeat, focusing on the positives and getting to know team members individually, so they can learn how to motivate them when they’re struggling.

Consider rewarding staff - perhaps a bonus or a prize for team members who collect the most positive feedback. For example, at Royal Ascot, after we receive the results from our mystery visit reports, we provide Ascot with the names of outstanding team members mentioned that day. They are then announced at the end of day briefings whilst being presented with a certificate and a shopping voucher. The right incentives can work wonders for motivation and encourage your team to get competitive in a positive way.

Don’t forget security

In the current climate, ensuring you have well-documented strategies for threats, emergencies and exiting large crowds, whilst communicating these to your entire team, is vital. Royal Ascot welcomes over 300,000 guests during the five day event and the safety of these guests, plus the 6,000 team members, is paramount.

Always evaluate

The best time to evaluate your event is while it’s happening. For the last 8 years, HGEM has worked alongside the Royal Ascot operations team to provide real time actionable insight over the five days. We collate information from our on-site guest experience managers, interviewers and mystery guests and feed into real-time analysis which enables the Ascot team to take immediate action to improve the guest experience.

Chloe Walker one of our Client Success Managers, states: “Event organisers no longer have to wait until an event has finished to review and identify changes that would have improved their event. Using a specialist service like ours, where feedback is completed, validated and delivered before 5pm, means that problems can be identified quickly, with action taken to improve the guest experience in time for the following day.

“Being able to react quickly to eliminate problems such as queue management or cleanliness means you can improve your guest experience overnight.”

When your event is over, the in-depth analytical debrief needs to take place. The post event review is your opportunity to measure all data and turn the insights into useful and actionable KPI’s for the future.

Rachael Head, HGEM’s New Business Manager comments: “Measuring and evaluating the success of an event is the only way to ensure you improve the guest experience in the future. Over the years we have been working with the team at Royal Ascot, we have seen improvements year-on-year in guest experience, and since the introduction of our live event feedback, we have seen improvements overnight during the five day event. This year we saw one mystery visit score increase from 35% to 96% by the next day, following a morning briefing and a review of the report.”

If you are working on a large event and would like to discuss how we can help you improve your guest experience, please get in touch.

Back to Blog