Wednesday, 9 April 2014

2014 Sheffield Half Marathon: What were the main issues?

Due to the fact I am at the most intense part of my degree, I decided to break up the tediousness of academic work by talking about Sunday's Sheffield Half Marathon.

Yes, let's have a quick discussion about our thoughts on the race being cancelled due to water shortages, because really how can we not comment on this!?

I may not, as of yet, be a fully-fledged event professional but I have worked on enough events to know that things like this should not happen, and for any event to be cancelled it is always the last resort for the event organisers. You always need to have a secondary plan in place & know of alternative suppliers/shops who could help out at short notice. What is pretty sad about this cancellation is that it is down to a shortfall of water bottles, not infrastructure or lack of volunteers but the simple case of not enough H2O.
Who was at fault, the supplier or the event organisers?
It hasn't been announced whether the water problem was down to lack of communication between the organisers or the supplier not coming through - it is very shocking that for an event of this size that has been running for over 30 years that they were only getting the water delivered on the day of the event. Tom Bedford, the race director of the  Richmond Running Festival, told Supply Management “At Richmond we have our water and energy drinks in a couple of days before. We also try and use well-known suppliers who have a reputation of delivering"
So why couldn't the event happen without the water?
For the race to go ahead there needed to be a certain amount of water on site for the event to be passed as safe by the event safety officer and medical team - this was a legal requirement that is out of the event planners hands, and something that is in place to protect and care for the participants. For any event manager the main concern is for the safety of the attendees and understandably it may often come across as over protective to people not working in the industry.
Yet if a runner had become seriously ill for dehydration who would the family look to blame? That is something that will play a major aspect in deciding what to do with the event, because the race organisers need to think about the safety of everyone involved
What has made people angry about the cancellation?
It isn't the event having to be cancelled that has made most of the runners annoyed but rather how the organsiers announced it; or more specifically how they failed to let people know! If you watch the video below, you can see they only announced the cancellation when everyone was at the start line, a lot of participants didn't know it had been cancelled because they couldn't hear the one announcement made. You can tell that the runners right at the front heard the event had been cancelled but it was no way loud enough to reach the other 5,000 runners and that is a fault of the organsiers.
They did use social media to announce the cancellation, yet how many people do you know who check the internet when about to run a marathon?

Another point that is quite interesting is the fact the race organisers are not giving back refunds. Whilst I understand that as a non-for profit event it is very difficult to give money back & they do have to pay for the infrastructure used. However, as the water was not delivered they will not be spending that part of the budget & there is an argument that they should try to refund part of what people paid - especially to those runners who did not participate in the marathon once the cancellation was announced.

It would be interesting to hear you opinions on whether refunds should be given?

Was there anything they did well?
The police and organisers did the right thing in keeping the runners safe once people decided to participate in the race regardless of the announcement, and overall the volunteers and people of Sheffield did an amazing job in getting water to the remaining participants, but there definitely was a massive problem in how the cancellation was communicated with the runners and spectators.
The two main issues are the fact the event was cancelled due to supplier miscommunication and how this information was passed onto participants. Because, regardless if the failed delivery was down to a supplier letting them down, the overall responsibility of the event belongs to them.
Whilst I understand that many half marathons are successfully run by volunteers who have no previous experience in running events, I think this simple mistake shows why it is important to have trained event professionals who are able to stop problems like this arising in the first place. Simply put if the delivery of water has only be scheduled for the Saturday the whole water situation would have been fixed prior to anyone knowing there was an issue!
What do you think is the best & safest way to tell ALL the runners and spectators that the marathon had to be cancelled? And what is your view on what happened at this event?

**UPDATE: it has been announced by Water Direct that they had not recieved payment for their delivery from the organsiers, despite them making it clear they needed full payement before the event. (evvnt industry news)
I am also currently collecting data for my Dissertation & if you have ever attended a Career Event or never attended one I really need to hear your views by completing my survey - it takes less than 2 minutes!  THANKS TO ALL WHO HAVE TAKEN THE TIME TO DO IT SO FAR!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Advice for you : That starry eyed event management student.

There are a lot of things I have learnt in the last 21 years & the past 12 months have reinforced that I still have so much more to learn and experience.

Yes there are things I wish I had known when I started out on this course & even more I wish I had done, so here is some advice for you younger event management students from a still young but soon-to-be-a-graduate event management person - advice which I think my younger self would have appreciated!
1. It is never too early to start work: If you haven't seen the countless articles about how professionals in the industry value experience over everything, then you need to get out of the university bubble & start volunteering.
I have said countless times that experience is so important in events, Yes it can be hard to get paid internships straight away, but why not volunteer at one of your favourite festivals and get free tickets at the same time? Why not volunteer at a local community event, or ask to help in the office for a few days beforehand? These opportunities could lead to getting to know the organisers and start your networking & every single one is experience on your CV.
Do not just rely on a placement year getting you a job after you graduate!
2. Keep up to date with the industry: Know about the trends and changes to the industry, about the people who are influential, the companies that are expanding. When you go to interviews you will have things to talk about and comment on, but more than that isn't it good to actually know what is going on in the world?
4. Have opinions and share them: Along with having experience people want to know you have a personality and it is important to have opinions and views on topics. When you read an article saying that event degrees are not relevant, how does that make you feel? It made me feel annoyed and undervalued - and I let people know that (see the examples below)! You could do what I do and write a blog, share you views in 140 characters or just comment on those articles. People with opinions show passion and understanding of the industry!

(My comments from Event Magazine & C&IT)
5. Focus, use University services and concentrate on your work: I understand that first year is a big adjustment and that the grades don't count, but this is the perfect time to talk to lecturers and hear their advice. I wish I had gone to see my tutors more at this stage because it helps with assignments in both second and final year. Really just try and do as well as you can, forget about how well or what your friends and classmates are doing & remember that your degree only affects you!
6. Challenge yourself: This is a main one for final year students, but is relevant to all students! You have to do your best to stand out from the crowd and that is not done if you do what everyone else is doing! Find opportunities and take them, such as the Eventice or by taking the internship that involves doing things you have never done before! CHALLENGE YOURSELF
7. Stop Procrastinating: Easier said than done but I've written before about how to beat it!
8. Learn to write a good CV & covering letter + know how to interview: Really important skills to have & something that will prove to be valiable throughout your professional career! I have written about how to succed in these three areas before; CV, Covering Letter & Interview.
9. Have a good time: Events is all about people, it is long hours, hard work, diverse and so much fun, which is why when you are studying or working - you need to remember to enjoy it. Remember to take a moment and get to know the people around you. Don't be 100% work orientated, rather be 100% dedicated & take a look around and celebrate the things you will achieve.
10. Pass on your advice to others: Everyone will go through their own experience at University & we all have advice we would love to pass onto others so that they don't make the same mistakes, or to help them experience the great things around them.  
Let me know in the comments your advice that you wished to have know when starting university or as a young event professional.

This post is part of the Legal & General campaign to find out bloggers advice to their younger self

Also if you have a spare 2 minutes, it would be fantastic if you could fill out this quick survey in regards to developing this blog and the direction it should go.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Blog Update & I need your help.


If you are also currently battling through your final year then you will know about how busy and stressful it is - some people have already completed and handed in their dissertation and final assignments - congratulations if you are one of those lucky students, but sadly I am not one of them!

I have just over 1 month left until I am completely finished my degree. Just 1 month till I will have handed in my last three assignments!

What this means is that currently my main focus is on finishing these essays, so that I can actually get the degree I've been working for over the last four years. You may have seen the less active twitter and the lack of Sunday posts over the last two weeks, which is why I have decided to only post 1 blog post a week for the next month (5 weeks). Instead of a Tuesday, Friday and Sunday post the new content will go up on a Wednesday, and then in May we shall get back to the more regular posting!

But this is where you guys come in, I need your help.

I want to know what type of posts you would prefer and it would mean a lot if you could fill out the survey below or let me know in the comments any suggestions you would love to see on this blog in the next few months.



*If the box doesn't work you can take part in the survey by clicking HERE

Thank so much guys :)