Staffing events is crucial. Often times, the success of your event will come down to the quality of your staff and how well they perform their roles.
The challenge, though, is the expense to staff an event well. On the inception of the event, you need to be planning the staffing and budgeting for the expense. Having people at the right places, in the right roles, is a critical factor to the fan experience. This is NOT the place to cut corners, believe me. #experience
Overall – the most important factor is BUY IN & the training of whichever path you choose. Your team needs to spend time educating EVERYONE on the mission and the success metrics of the event; and then spend time training the staff. They are a direct reflection of YOU – so it is a priority to handle your staff well if you want your mission to be translated to the thousands who will experience your brand.
There are two ways to plan for staffing – paid staff vs. volunteer staff. Across the events and brands that we manage, we end up working with both types of workers, and here are some pros & cons.
Temp Paid Staff
The pro is they are working for a wage, so there are set expectations. They are meant to arrive on time, and not leave early to “watch the show”. Some of them are motivated, and will really work for you if they are incentivized. We have experience working with staffing agencies, and you can easily set parameters with them on the level of expectation and expertise.
The con is often times, they are just showing up for a “job”, and they have no investment in the big picture or your brand. Also, they are typically paid minimum wage, so the level of experience can vary.
We have been working with a NY based temp agency, 24 Seven, on Oprah’s the Life You Want Tour, and now for a worldwide tour that we are managing the consumer engagement piece. We have had a lot of success with them as they screen and train their temp staff. In our scenario with these tours, the temp-staffing model is working for us. In many stadium markets, we are hiring up to 100 people that will work for us for 6-8 hours – and it is tough labor in the heat, where they are standing up the entire shift. We have a budget that allows for this, so it is working out well.
In this scenario, although the workers do not necessarily have a “passion” for the event, they make up for it in wanting to execute their job well and get their check at the end of the show.
The pro is these volunteers are often giving of their time because they love the mission or the cause behind the event. Usually, the level of engagement is much higher with volunteer staff.
The con is that although their passion runs deep, sometimes their experience lacks. Or, they end up getting placed in roles that they are not 100% qualified for. And in our experience, volunteers often cut out of their role once the “fun” starts (when the artist or speaker goes on stage); therefore you can be left short-handed.
Recently, at the BLOOM Conference in Hawaii, I experienced volunteering at it’s finest. BLOOM is a conference for girls, and the team of volunteers were gentlemen who had a heart to serve the audience. The volunteers were given a name (“BAH-loom”), and they were well organized and extremely positive, helpful, and passionate. This was a scenario where there was 100% buy in to the mission, and it worked. Additionally, the event organizers spent time with them to clarify their roles. I loved watching these guys work…and I never had to lift a thing :).
Overall, staffing is CRITICAL for your brand message. Temp or Volunteer, pay attention to them and teach them the mission of your brand.
If you need any advice on which path to choose, let us know, we would be glad to help!