Volunteering for events is a course that is gearedto enabling students to get a deeper understanding of event organizing, management, and the broader events field(Merril, 2005). As such, I decided to volunteer for the Swiss Color Run of March, 2014 held at the Albert Park. The event, which ran from 9am to 3pm, encompassed many racing events. Chief among them was the color run. This reflection essay will articulate my expectations about the event and its organizers, the key tasks, my impression about the whole adventure, as well as insights and learning outcomes.
Having attended a running event before, albeit, as a participant, I had a rough idea of what to expect. I expected lots of entrants, some of them rowdy, but bubbly all the same. I also projected managing these people to be tasking. I, however, anticipated to network with the event organizers and other stakeholders so that I could gain a deeper insight of event organizers. I also expected to hone my skills, experience first-hand what managing a large crowd entails, and have fun doing it.
There were many tasks that needed doing for both the events crew and the volunteers. For volunteers, we were randomly assigned duties depending on the order of our arrival. During the color run, the primary tasks included spraying color on the runners, assisting the crew operate machinery, distributing drinking water, cheering people on, and aiding exhausted runners. I was mandated along with others to cheer the runners. This involved giving them ‘high fives’ and encouraging them. It also encompassed giving directions and taking pictures of the runners. In some instances, it required running with some of the runners who were ready to quit and urging them on. I feel that the tasks were easy to accomplish and did not involve much expertise. Some of the volunteers kept complaining about the menial tasks and how they were bound to learn nothing but it is my belief that had they focused on what was transpiring around them, they would have had more to learn.
From a volunteer’s point of view, the event was a success. Numerous people turned up, all of varying ages. A majority of the runners, however, were teenagers, followed by young adults, and entire families. Everyone seemed jovial, including those who got tired and dropped out of the race. Many of the people were urging their friends onwhile yet others tried everything they could todiscourage their counterparts.
Unlike other events, the cases of accidents or people fainting were not encountered. Because it was a color run, everyone was smeared with color. There were also no cases of foul behavior as exhibited by teenagers and young adults in most of the past events I have participated in. The run also ended in a timely manner, and people started dancing to the music that was emanating from the Deejay booth. Food and snacks were plentiful, as well as accessories where the runners got fancy stuff such as neon glasses, colorful wigs, and tutu skirts. In a nutshell, everyone had fun, including we the volunteers who provided support.
The organizers planned the event for a week after the Neon run, and I had earlier assumed that this would be grounds for few people turning up. As it turned out, there was a large crowd that turned up, big enough to make enormous profits, but not large enough to cause trouble or strains on space. The event organizers had evidently planned the timing well as the weather was perfect, and the morning hours meant that people were fresh and energetic to cover the course. The stipulated time was adhered to, and the event finished on time.
The organizers also anticipated the needs of every person. They availed color guns for various colors at every kilometer interval. There were also t-shirts, information pamphlets, drinking water, first aid kits, and even a standby for any critical case that arose. At the central area stood a Disc jockey booth that provided entertainment. They also had anMC who coordinated the activities and also aided in hyping the crowd. At the end of the race track was a cleaning area for runners to wash off the color before they departed. The organizers were also wary of the environment and erected a giant cover in front of the stage to protect the adjacent land from the powder.
There was adequate personnel to cover the event. The crew coordinated the sponsors, volunteers and operated machinery such as cameras, the entertainment systems, and communication. The organizers had also enlisted the services of numerous volunteers who aided in the smooth running of the event. The organizers had created a website in which the volunteers were required to register. Personally, I applied and got a confirmation and a list of the things I needed to do. During the events day, they articulated my duties, gave me a t-shirt, and provided a meal after registering. The event organizers also ensured that they did everything to maximize revenues. Besides the tickets, there were also tents selling various merchandise and booths for taking photos.
From my interaction with the organizers, it is clear that they did a lot to ensure that the event ran smoothly.one of the managers disclosed to me that the biggest challenge was in getting the sponsors to cater for all the expenses. The organizers were also friendly and professional, which I opine is a requirement for success in the field. If one loses track of what requires being done, or does not relate well to sponsors and participants, then they will not be successful in the profession of events organizing.
Various companies sponsored the event, ranging from big organizations to startups. Most of the organizers had their stalls and tents where staff from their officers could answer the questions of participants. Some of them even offered free merchandise and ran competitions in which the winner walked away with a prize. It was evident that the sponsors were committed to making the event a success while also increasing awareness of their businesses(Irwin, 2003). The sponsors provided most of the equipment used during the event. The food was from a catering company, the ambulance from the local hospital, drinking water from a retail store, and t-shirts from a textile industry. The sponsors thus enabled the event become a success, and their efforts should be lauded.
The Events Industry
From the day’s occurrences, I find the events industry very exciting. The industry is not like the ordinary jobs that entail doing too much of the same work. I have always loved beingchallenged,and I could tell that organizing the event was a challenge that needed careful planning. One needs to convince corporations to sponsor the events, deal with personnel, cater for the needs of every attendee and at the same time ensure there are revenues to be earned. The industry also requires a high level of organizational and interpersonal skills, creativity, and patience.
While the events industry is stressful according to many sources, I believe from the events of the day that it is one of the best to work in due to its versatility and diversity. Every day presents different challenges and is a learning opportunity. One also gets to network with various people and build meaningful relationships, while having fun at it.Additionally, the industry does not have a standard operating procedure and thus can never become boring(Bladen, 2012). Moreover, it enables people keep in touch with world occurrences and developments.
From volunteering in events organizing activities, one gets to learn a lot. First, one gets to know how to plan for the event and the essential requirements. From the Color Run, I got to learn a lot about the need for adequate preparation and conductingapreliminary analysis of every situation. Without this preparation and organization, failure is inevitable. The second benefit from volunteering in such is the networks it provides. In the event, I got to chat with one of the principal organizers who elucidated a lot of intimate details about the industry. These people from different culturesenable one learn a lot about the practical world. Having such networks is necessary when job-seeking or seeking advice when starting a business. Events organizing also improves one’s critical thinking skills, and understanding. There are always issues that need solving. Moreover, since such events attract people from diverse backgrounds, one learns how to handle these people and relate to them well.
Insights and Recommendations
Events organizing is a demanding job, but nonetheless rewarding. Besides meeting new people, one builds on many life skills such as relationship; organizational; critical thinking; and problem-solving skills. These skills are relevant in all spheres of life besides the work environment. As such, I would recommend that people interested in events organizing volunteer for such activities due to their added benefits. Moreover, I would urge institutions to avail more opportunities for students to engage in practical learning through participation in events relevant to their coursework.
As a volunteer in the Swiss Color Run, I was tasked with the mandate of cheeringpeople on. While it seemed like a meager duty, the rewards I received were even more. I got a deeper understanding of the events industry and what is required. By associating with others, I got to network, create new friends and have fun while at it. The involvement gave me a better perspective of the events industry, and the course I wanted my life to take. The general organization of the event, from the organizers to the sponsors, to the fulfillment of the day’s objective, gave me great joy.I would advise others to take part in such events as they are truly rewarding.
Bladen, C. K. (2012). Events management: an introduction. London: Routledge.
Irwin, R. L. (2003). Cause-related sport sponsorship: an assessment of spectator beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions.Sport Marketing Quarterly, 12(3), 131-139.
Merril, M. V. (2005, September 30). How volunteers benefit organizations. Retrieved from worldvolunteerweb: http://www.worldvolunteerweb.org/resources/how-to-guides/manage-volunteers/doc/how-volunteers-benefit-organizations.html