BOOK TITLE - Mass Participation Sports Events – how to create, deliver and sustain a successful sporting event experience
AUTHOR – Chris Robb
The Mass Participation sporting event industry has exploded in the past decade. The running boom of the 70’s and 80’s is enjoying a huge resurgence, cycling is experienced unprecedented growth, Triathlon continues to surge and a new genre of “mob runs” is allowing a whole new group of people to experience the thrill of crossing the finish line.
Delivering Mass Participation sporting events is no easy task – it is complex and multi-faceted, requires dedicated teams of planners working long hours and often thousands of volunteers to ensure that participants have a safe and enjoyable experience. The industry is evolving rapidly and one of the biggest challenges it faces is lack of experienced talent, especially in Asia where growth is exponential.
As a 30 year veteran of the Mass Participation sporting events industry Chris Robb has an amazing story to tell and experiences to share. Born in Zimbabwe he has been involved in the industry across four continents and events ranging from the Sydney 2000 Olympics to some of Asia’s largest Mass Participation sporting events.
The portfolio of Spectrum Worldwide, which he founded in Australia in 1989, includes the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon that attracts 55,000 runners and the ever-expanding Cycle Asia network of events that he conceptualised as Cycle Singapore in 2008 and in 2015 is expected to attract over 30,000 cyclists to events in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Hong Kong and Australia. Clients past and present include JPMorgan, Standard Chartered Bank, Red Bull, Singapore Sports Council, Hong Kong Tourism Board, Canon, OCBC Bank, adidas, asics and Volvo to name a few. He started the company with $15,000 and has built it into a multi-million dollar turnover market leader.
Chris is one of the lucky ones whose job is his passion - it started in Zimbabwe when he was 16 and as a passionate runner organised his first fun run to raise money for the resurfacing of his school “cinder” athletics track. From there he went to university in South Africa where he took full advantage of the “incubator” environment and really cut his teeth on the industry. He spent as much time organising events as studying for his two degrees and by his third year was running a small event management company out of his spare room conceptualising and organising running events. 10 years ago he took up cycling and has turned that passion into the success that is now Cycle Asia.
Over the years, with the support of his team of dedicated event planners at Spectrum Worldwide, Chris has developed a successful framework for delivering Mass Participation events which centres around a detailed project plan and timeline with key milestones which drives the process through five key stages:
1. On the start line – conceptualisation
2. Signing up – setting budgets and raising the necessary funding
3. In training – planning
4. When the gun fires – event day or weekend
5. Warming down – post-event review and recalibration
Chris has found over the years that there are a number of key obstacles that need to be overcome to ensure a successful and sustainable event including:
• Government and stakeholder approval – often for closure of huge sections of a city’s roads
• Funding – identifying multiple revenue streams
• Venue availability and feasibility
• Calendar dates
• Staffing – permanent, contract and volunteer
• Medical and safety
• Marketing and participant recruitment
• …. And many more.
The book helps address ways to overcome these obstacles and many other challenges and has been written in such a way that readers can follow the process from start to finish or simply pick a chapter that is relevant to their needs be it student, a “newbie” to the industry, an experienced practitioner, a sponsor, a government agency, a teacher or lecturer or a charity.
Each chapter starts with a real life anecdote from Chris’s experiences or those of other industry leaders and ends with a checklist.
The six sections are:
Introduction that gives a background to the Mass Participation sporting industry, explains what drives people to participate and interesting insights into industry trends as well as examining “success” and “failure”
Section 1 – On the start line, talks about conceptualisation, identifying objectives, target markets, venue and date research and creating budgets.
Section 2 – Singing up, discusses funding, contracts, marketing and project plans/timelines and staffing.
Section 3 – In training, outlines the detailed planning stage such as site layout, traffic management, contingency and crisis plans as well as procurement and logistics, stakeholder management, sponsor servicing, volunteer recruitment and training, online entries, participant management, website and social media.
Section 4 – When the gun fires deals with event day or weekend and includes some highly insightful anecdotes in areas such as volunteer deployment (an exercise of military proportions in some events) weather, command and control, program and protocol, road closures, crisis management, timing and results, event day “experience” and much more.
Section 5 – Warming down, the often overlooked post event evaluation, debriefs, budget management and reconciliation, sponsor benefits and analysis, reporting and event recalibration.
There is little doubt that Mass Participation – how to create, deliver and sustain a successful sporting event experience will become an invaluable aide to all sectors of the Mass Participation industry and no doubt inspire many young people to take up a career in the challenging and richly rewarding industry of Mass Participation sporting event experiences.
ABOUT CHRIS ROBB
As a 30 year veteran of the Mass Participation events industry Chris Robb has an amazing story to tell.
Born in Zimbabwe where he grew up on a farm during the Independence War he organised his first fun run at the age of 16 to help raise funds for the resurfacing of his school “cinder” athletics track.
From there he moved to University in South Africa where he cut his teeth in the industry and spent as much time organising and working on events, like the world famous Comrades marathon and South African Marathon Championships as he did studying for his Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Agricultural Management Degrees. He then spent four years traveling through Europe, America, Asia and Australia before settling in Sydney in 1989 where he founded Spectrum Worldwide.
In 2000, Chris worked on the Sydney Olympics as the Road Events Supervisor and in 2002 expanded the business to Singapore where it now delivers some of the regions largest Mass Participation events including the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (55,000) runners and the Cycle Asia network of events which attracts nearly 30,000 cyclists to events in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Hong Kong and Australia.
Chris is passionate about all sports, especially cycling and running and the fact that he has taken part in so many events as a participant gives him a unique insight into what his customers want.
There are very few people with Chris’s depth and breadth of knowledge in the Mass Participation sporting industry.
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