7 Smart Pieces of Advice from a Guy Who’s Organized Nearly 1,000 Events

IIB 2015Steven Tomboni, co-founder and CEO of America Multi-Sport, Inc. has been in this business since 1994. With over 975 events under his belt as a race director and 300+ Triathlons or Road Races, he’s got plenty of experience we can all learn from. Oh and did we mention he recently became the ninth member of the USA Triathlon Race Director’s Century Club? Yep, this guy know what he’s talking about. Here are seven pieces of advice we learned from Steven, and thought you might like to hear, too:

  1. Safety should ALWAYS be first

Whatever it takes to keep your participants safe, do it. As Steven said, “Safety has always been all consuming, particularly in the water. We had the opportunity to be one of the first triathlons in the world to use a new chip technology and jumped right on it as a means to add another layer of safety to the swim. We can verify when an athlete is in and out of the water within one minute.”

  1. Find strong team captains and volunteers

You need reliable, enthusiastic leaders to help you on race week and race day. Whether its race captains for transition areas or volunteers for water stations, it’s your responsibility to find and motivate people to support your event. “Leadership by example is huge,” mentioned Steven. “We volunteered as race captains and asked everyone around us to do the same thing. It worked.”

  1. Go all in

Becoming a race director isn’t something you can do half-heartedly, or for the wrong reasons. Steven says it best with, “This is a full-time business. Be a professional and become very involved or don’t do it at all. The risks and liability are way too high for amateurs.”

  1. Use a consistent Facebook strategy

Facebook tends to be the most valuable social media channel for events. One big key is to be consistent with what you post, and to keep it largely inspirational (don’t push sales too hard!). Steven explained his strategy: “Our Facebook strategy is to have themes for each day: motivation on Monday, videos on Tuesday, sponsor appreciation on Thursday, etc. Generally we follow the 80/20 rule of using 80% inspirational content and 20% registration-based content.”

  1. Give people a reason to register

Statistics have proven over and over that registrations increase when there is an urgency or strong motivation behind them. Price breaks, coupon codes, medals, free swag…whatever it is, you need to give people a reason to register. “…a couple years ago we started increasing prices for races on the first Tuesday of every month,” said Steven. “We communicated that well to athletes and the general public and it has worked pretty well. We always see a surge in registrations at the 11th hour—literally at 11pm before the midnight deadline of the price increase each month.”

  1. Do your homework

What do other events in your area charge for registration fees? What are the demographics of the area? When did people register last year, and do you see any patterns? It’s crucially important to understand the data around your event—geographic, demographic, and historic. This will help you become a better marketer. Steven comments that “We do tons of online research about what other events offer and charge. We always look back at the history of every race and analyze the price increases.”

  1. Embrace technology

Don’t even consider doing paper-based registration or cutting corners on technology that can help you run your event well. This isn’t just a matter of efficiency, but also of liability and security. “The advent of online registration is absolutely correlated to the growth of endurance sports,” Steven said. “Period. You can’t have a marathon with 50,000 people who register on paper. Not only would the admin time be a nightmare, but the liability would be massive. If someone passes out on the course, you need to access their info in seconds…”

There’s more where that came from. Read other tips from our Event Directors of the Month