Operation readiness: Five tips to ensure your next event runs smoothly

Andrea Marcellini Mendonça, SEMOS Project Manager at the International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS) and former Rio 2016 Venue General Manager of the Olympic Velodrome, outlines five key action points that event managers should follow to ensure they deliver that sporting event that their fans have been waiting for.

Operation readiness: Five tips to ensure your next event runs smoothly

Organising major sporting events involves meticulous planning, complex coordination, and dynamic multitasking. Event managers must be able to think outside the box and get problems resolved. With the list of deliverables sometimes appearing never ending and the unexpected issues increasing day by day, International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS) has put together five key action points that event managers should follow to ensure they deliver that sporting event that their fans have been waiting for.

1. Know your clients well

In large scale sporting events the event managers do not need to know the sport in detail – that is the role of the competition manager.  The event manager is the event expert; the competition manager is the sport expert.  The key is to ensure that the event and competition managers have a very strong working relationship with each other and communicate effectively.  It is the role of the event manager to know and understand every client group. This means knowing who they are (e.g. VIP’s) what their specific needs are (e.g. broadcasters), what their flows are in the venue (e.g. athletes must not cross paths with media) and what their culture and behaviour is like (eg. spectators and fans).

2. Define and know your procedures and policies

AISTS SEMOS™ Operation Readiness

Because of an infrastructure accident, the media entrance has been blocked. To get to their area in the venue, they now need to use the athletes entrance. How to proceed?

Event managers need to be hands on, dynamic thinkers and in tricky situations be able to make a quick, informed decision.  To be able to do this effectively, you must put policies in place and know them inside out. Policies often exist already from international and/or national federations, host cities or previous organising committees and all will have detailed policies for crisis management.  Find them, learn them and share them with your team. Each area manager should master their own policies but the event manager needs to have a working knowledge of all of them.

AISTS SEMOS™ Operation Readiness

On the way to the venue one of the athlete’s buses gets stuck in a major traffic jam caused by an accident. The athletes are likely to arrive late to the venue for the first competition. How to proceed?

3. Have an excellent plan, but be ready for the unplanned

One of the perks of working in events is that all projects are different and each has its own issues and unexpected happenings. Even if the exact same system is implemented a second time, the project will be different: each client group will have different requirements, the spectators will be different or the project team members will have different ideas about certain procedures. Whatever the scale of the event is, the event manager should always be prepared for the unexpected.  The best way to avoid the unplanned is to have a detailed plan.  Study previous editions, map risks, have contingency plans and train your team for operational readiness.

4. Hold regular team meetings

Regular team meeting not only strengthen bonds and work relationships among members, but also keeps the teams on track regarding updates, developments and deadlines. The Event manager needs to be well prepared to host these meetings and demand preparation from team members as well. The meetings must have a solution orientated rather than complaint orientated focus, with the main goal of each meeting being to provoke dialogue between functional areas and find solutions for common issues that are occurring. Having the entire team on the same page at all times is key for a successful delivery.

5. Plan event simulations

Once the event manager has planned and mapped all risks, operational readiness or event simulation exercises should be run. These functional exercises should be as close as possible to the reality of what may happen at an event and their purpose is to validate the plans, policies and procedures set by the events team. The goal of these simulations is to practice communication flows between the impacted areas, so that the right people can be informed and therefore take the right decisions. The goal is not to have the right answers for the various scenarios. A full debrief must be executed after each exercise.

So are you and your team ready for your next event? Are your procedures and policies organised and ready to be executed? Have you completed numerous operation readiness simulation exercises? The AISTS (International Academy of Sports Science and Technology) has been organising a Sport Event Management and Organisation Seminar (SEMOS™) since 2001. This seminar will get you ready for any sports event by bringing together leaders of International Sport Federations and other academic experts of the AISTS network, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and sport event organisers, to deliver eight days of lectures, case studies, group activities and operation readiness exercises.

Participants will gain an overview of the key tasks that sports managers need to successfully plan, communicate and operate when organising sport events, providing a 360-degree view and behind the scenes look at the mechanics of sport events.  Key topics such as sponsorship, logistics, accreditation, medical and much more, as well various event simulation exercises, are all taught in either the SEMOS™ (five days) or SEMOS Plus (three days) modules. To see which module best suits your needs, go to https://www.aists.org/education/professional-development/aists-open-modules.

Note: Participants can register separately or attend both. If attending both a discount of 600CHF will be applied. Email info@aists.org for more details.