The Mind and Heart of Event Management: 4 Tips from a Neuroscientist/Race Director

The Color Run SwitzerlandThe single largest event series in the world, The Color Run has exploded since its debut event and now has more than 300 events in 50+ countries. Tiago Pereira is director of the Color Run Switzerland and experienced huge success in Lausanne, Switzerland. Over 10,000 people participated in the inaugural event in this city, and the “Happiest 5K on the Planet” is now in full swing across Europe. Tiago has years of experience in the sports industry, and here are four important lessons he shared with us:

  1. Location, Location, Location

When considering where to base your event, pick a city that will welcome and work with you. You don’t want to be fighting city officials for support and permits and you don’t want struggle to find local participants. A large part of organizing a successful event is locating it in the right place.

Pereira explains his experience: “When we decided to launch The Color Run in Switzerland, the first city that came to mind was Lausanne. Not only because of its great location, but also because of the city’s extremely tight connection with sports. For several years, federations and international companies have chosen to be based in this area—Lausanne is one of the world’s top cities in terms of sports.”

“Our forecasts were confirmed when we started working with the municipality and realized that they are invested in the benefits of sports, through infrastructures, events and environment. It’s definitely a city where we can breathe sports.”

So…where can you breathe sports?

  1. Figure Out What They Want

Instead of always thinking about budget constraints and participants numbers, think about what makes people happy. What simple things do participants want? Sponsors?

“We must think about what make us happy,” Pereira says, “and what simple things make people happy. We should not go after sponsors, but try to develop a concept that makes sponsors come after us…More than ask people what they want, we should find out what they might need in terms of new experiences.”

  1. Be a Friend on Social Media

Social media, for all its massive, worldwide reach, is still built around personal relationships. To be really successful at social media, you need to make your followers feel a connection to you. What you post should be on brand for your event and meaningful for your audience.

“…when you’re dealing with people’s emotions like you are in social media, you need to be one of them,” notes Pereira. “You need to understand what they want, what they feel, and who they are; and from there…focus on what they are expecting to hear from you.

“And most of all, because social media is ‘social,’ they need to see you as a friend. And if you can get that, you’re not just getting a new customer; you’re getting a “friend” that will work with you and for you, helping you to convince others that your product or service can be an amazing experience, and sometimes even defend you in delicate situations.”


  1. Nothing Is More Valuable Than a Great Team 

Even if you’re a superhero, you can’t manage an event on your own. The support of a dedicated, enthusiastic, knowledgeable team is invaluable, as many race directors will tell you. Your team will be your eyes on the course, your number crunchers, and your best marketers. Build a strong team around your event, and you have the golden ticket.

“The best secret to success in managing events is to have a great team with you,” Pereira says. “A team that you can trust when it comes to making decisions. A team that is there for anything, independently of time, effort or success…It’s not something you buy, but something you need to build with time and experience.”

If you like hearing what industry experts have to say, here’s more from our Event Directors of the Month.