John Korff is the owner of Korff Enterprises and has extensive experience as an owner and event promoter for over 100 different events, including Olympic triathlons, concerts, festivals, professional tennis and golf tournaments, and more.
His events are well known for their fun and memorable experiences. So we asked John to share his secrets in making his events entertaining for the millions of people who have attended, and who continue to come back for more.
Tip #1: Hire the right people
In order to bring your event to life, you need to build a winning team. This means you need to have the confidence to hire people who are better than you in some ways. As the event organizer, you’re the charismatic leader motivating your team to help you achieve your vision. Your staff looks to you for their inspiration and reason for doing what they do, but if you’re not fun, your event won’t be either. That’s why you need a team of people who are constantly bringing great ideas to the table, and the follow-through to bring these ideas to life.
When it comes time to turn ideas and inspiration into action, you need an event manager that’s a detailed-oriented, responsible self-starter to lead the charge. Depending on the size of your event, hiring people specifically focused on securing sponsorships, managing operations, and recruiting volunteers may be necessary as well.
Tip #2: Go from NO to YES!
There are a lot of rules and restrictions at events. Some are for safety reasons, but many are artificial restrictions. People can’t gain access to certain areas because they don’t have a VIP badge, for example. Or in sports like golf and tennis, spectators can’t move or talk during play. All of these regulations can start to feel like a whole lot of NOs.
It’s important to find ways to convey your rules in a positive way and focus on what you can do to create a fun experience, rather than what you can’t. Yes, you can ride your bike here! Yes, you can get up close and watch from this viewpoint! It helps to train your team to deal with customer issues with a YES, which makes for a much more positive experience all round.
Tip #3: Make it fun for everyone
It’s important to encourage your volunteers to have fun because their attitude sets the tone for the whole event. They’re the party and entertainment, and will leave an impression on the participants, even if they’re just handing out water to them during the race. So make sure every volunteer understands their critical role.
When it comes to spectators having fun, encourage them to get involved in the gathering. People may have mixed feelings about an endurance race weaving through their neighborhood, for example, perceiving it as a disturbance rather than a celebration. Instead, help them think of their driveway as front row seats to the action. You can proactively give them the tools to have fun like cowbells and signs, and get them to cheer on participants.
Tip #4: Come up with the ideas first
John’s team has been successful in securing and retaining many top sponsors for his events by offering unique sponsorship opportunities. Their recipe for success? Come up with the idea first and then approach the right sponsor. Ideas that create publicity, excitement, and involve different audiences allow you to appeal to a range of sponsors.
When coming up with ideas for NYC Triathlon sponsorships, for instance, the team started by brainstorming what everyone in the area has in common: puppies. This idea eventually became a 5-mile Doggy Dash during the triathlon sponsored by the Animal Medical Center.