Often when I start discussing dragon boat racing in meetings during the winter months, the question inevitably pops up out of conversation: “So, what exactly do you work on during the winter?” Even my bank teller asked me that recently! While the offseason isn’t nearly as packed with adrenaline-filled days of rushing toward race day, it is busy still, in its own right. I find myself busier with each passing year as well. Maybe this blog will also explain a little more about what I do for those who ask me, “So, I know that you organize dragon boat events, but what is it you actually do?” The funny thing about that question is that most people who have been to a dragon boat event I produce always say they know I’ve worked hard to put it together, but no one knows what tasks go into it.
Off-Season work projects include:
~ Scheduling the next racing season. It’s not at all like scheduling an appointment for, let’s say, getting your hair done. And it always consumes more time than you predict. First, I want to make sure to schedule the dragon boat races I produce first, and then work around that. In order to do that, we have to take certain things into consideration. A sampling of issues to consider: venue availability, other large events on the same date, school graduations or other large gatherings that might interfere, and coordination with the local charity. Once I have my own events scheduled, I work the clients who contract with me for my boats and services on their dates, in other cities throughout the U.S.. We not only have to make sure the dates work in their communities, we also must ensure the dates fits in my schedule. This year, I actually called a client and asked her to change her race date so I could add a new client. It worked out well, but scheduling my 2011 season took about three months.
~ Sponsorship. From media to corporate sponsorships, all the generous companies that help make this event happen will only return if they are asked. My job is to research the companies and make the ask, and the follow ups, for all three festivals my company produces. That now includes Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis. Sponsorship is probably the most time consuming of all the off-season tasks. It generally starts in September or October, is always somewhat hampered by the holiday rush, and then work on this psychologically and unpredictable task lasts until March or April, and sometimes even into May. A very important lesson I have learned about sponsorship – you can’t rush it!
Dynamic produced festivals netted more than $200,000 in donations in 2010.
~ Promotion. To secure those sponsors, the promotional campaign must be strong. I work on the promotional plan – communication with former teams, networking, social media, online strategies, press plans and printed materials, and everything in-between.
~ Logistics. The logistics involved with a dragon boat event involves time consuming strategy and implementation, and always vary based on venue and the community where the venue is located. Logistics can include boat docks, transport, coaching and staffing services for the event, race day needs and equipment, team management, race day schedule, team tents, on-site placement of everything – teams, sponsors, marshaling area, finish line, start line, kid’s area, parking, shuttling, port-a-lets. You name it, the detail must be handled.
Aside from all this, there are many other details associated with my work, in winter, spring and summer and fall. The job – whether it is planning or implementing – gets busier and more rewarding. My business is growing, and several charities are prospering. Dynamic produced festivals netted more than $200,000 in donations in 2010.It feels good when you put in an honest life”s work.