It’s April… Already! For many in the Northern Hemisphere the 2014 skydiving season is about to begin. USPA Safety Day commences on March 8th and with it the beginning of the summer boogie season shortly thereafter. No matter the size of your drop zone - Cessna or multi-Otter, a great boogie can be hosted provided that it’s well-organized and is focused on the details. Below are five tips for building a better boogie:
5 TIPS FOR BUILDING A BETTER BOOGIE:
1. BE DIFFERENT
2. BUDGET WELL
3. BE HOSPITABLE
4. BE ORGANIZED
5. BE SAFE
I. Differentiate Yourself
A vast majority of skydiving centers in the world host a boogie, so how will yours be different? If your desire is to see your boogie grow, then make your boogie uniquely different. Your goal shouldn’t be to have the biggest boogie in the land, but rather the best quality. Focus on quality and your boogie attendance will expand. This approach doesn’t grow your boogie overnight, but it works over the longterm as people will talk about your event.
Ask yourself the question - What would you like to see if you were to attend a boogie? Write those answers down. A great approach to differentiating your event is identifying and eliminating the pain points for jumpers. How are jumpers inconvenienced when attending a boogie? Try to think outside of the box.
II. Budget Accordingly
Create a realistic budget. Estimate realistic attendance goals and do your math from there. There will be unexpected line items putting you over budget, so whatever you think the number is - reduce it to build some cap room. A strong pre-registration is key to lessening financial worry should it rain every day of your event. Accrue the majority of your budget before the event begins. As your event grows, consider capping attendance to place a higher need for attendees to pre-register to ensure their spot at your event.
• Create an event page on Facebook and keep the updates coming.
• Create an event website - one central location for all boogie information is recommended.
• Keep an active blog reporting on boogie updates
• Have all LO’s promote the event on their social media pages (should be a requirement)
• Create an urgency - pre-reg discount / tee shirt availability / capping attendance
Attending a boogie for multiple days in the heat of the summer can be uncomfortable, tiring and definitely expensive. Your organizers, vendors and fun jumpers are traveling from far and wide to to be at your DZ - be sure that hospitality is a major theme. Visualize how you would wish to be treated and deliver that vision to your guests.
Evaluate Pain Points
To deliver great hospitality, examine the pain points of your attendees. Remember, your jumpers will be on the ground for at least 90% of the boogie with only a small percentage of time actually spent in the air. Make sure attention to detail with ground logistics is handled.
Examples of Pain Points
Many jumpers who attend boogies become frustrated when jumping with LO’s because of the mixed level of experience on any one jump. Furthermore, newer jumpers feel intimidated approaching LO’s because they’re unsure if their experience level matches up. Lastly, many jumpers find it difficult to identify organizers during a busy event.
In the chart below, load organizers are assigned to specific experience levels during each day of the event. This allows for low-time jumpers to know who is available to them and keeps more advanced flyers together. This also allows LO’s to be more focused on the groups of people they should be looking for instead of taking anyone who approaches them to make a jump.
Don’t assume your boogie attendees know who your LO’s are regardless of their accomplishments in the sport. Color code your LO’s in bright colors. Below, FS load organizers wear red, freeflyers yellow and wingsuit LO’s, orange.
The Added Touches
What are added touches? Added touches are the finite details where the magic of your boogie comes alive. Putting together an infrastructure for your boogie is easy…aircraft, load organizers etc. The added touches are the details that leave an impression on your customers. Remember your customers aren’t just the jumpers themselves, but your vendors, load organizers and staff. Everyone is a mouthpiece for your event, so be sure they’re saying only the best things about your boogie.
Examples for Added Touches
- Boogie bags with thoughtful ideas for jumpers (sunscreen, USB memory sticks, pull up cords, closing loops)
- Beverage sponsor offering free drinks
- Free ice for vendors
- Hospitality area for LO’s and Vendors
- Small gifts for LO’s and Vendors
- Free jumps for fun jumpers
- Offer to have LO tee shirts washed at the end of each day
- Take time to send personalized thank you cards to vendors, LO’s and staff.
Don’t overlook this…this is the essence of the whole thing. If you treat people really well then they WILL talk about your event. Great hospitality is not exclusive to jumpers but everyone - your vendors and LO’s as well. These folks are traveling the country and will spread the word about your event very quickly. So take good care of them!
There needs to be a paradigm shift regarding the importance of vendors at your event.
At many boogies, I’ve seen DZ managers go through the following steps before, during and after:
1. Beg for free stuff from vendors for boogie bags
2. Invite vendors to come to the DZ.
3. If vendors arrive, point to where they can set up.
4. Do nothing else.
Having vendors at your event is a great opportunity for growth as it:
a). Shows credibilty. There is no shortage of events in the US and the world for vendors to attend. If they come to your event, then it lends credibility and builds the vibe. Vendors would prefer to attend smaller boogies where they’re treated well than attend big events where they’re ignored.
b). Opens up marketing opportunities: Vendors travel all over the country and share the vibes of the boogies they’ve visited. If you hit a home run with your vendors, they will talk about your event all year long which builds the ‘vibes’ of your event for the following year.
c). Having vendors at your event allows you to learn. Ask your vendors what they like and dislike.The best boogie experts are your traveling LO’s and vendors as they see what works and doesn’t work. They can offer you the best feedback to improve your event, but you have to ask them.
d). Builds relationships. We’re in a really small industry - having face time with each other and building relationships can open up future possibilities that you haven’t even thought about.
IDEAS FOR TAKING CARE OF YOUR VENDORS
- Create a hospitality area for vendors
- Provide snacks and drinks for vendors
- Provide vendors with valuable info from information gathered at pre-registration.
- Consider giving vendors thank you gifts
- Look for ‘Added Touches’ to make the boogie experience bette r for them.
- Be sure vendor row is in a high traffic area. Having vendors tucked away on the backside of the hangar may not be ideal.
A WORD ON LOAD ORGANIZERS
a) Highly Experienced Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Best. A world champion doesn’t necessarily equate to being a good load organizer. Great load organizers can take different experience levels and create a dive flow that will be enjoyable and successful to all.
b) Choose Great Attitudes. A characteristic of a great LO is attitude - as in there shouldn’t be any. When deciding who to select as a load organizer choose the great flyer with a positive attitude over the flyer who is a three time world champion, but has a chip on their shoulder.
c) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. When leading into your boogie, be sure to have strong communication with your LO’s. Most of all, communicate what it is that you want. Remember your LO’s are working for you, not for themselves. An example of this is communicating how many LO’s you will permit on any one aircraft etc.
Remember, take Good Care of Your LO’s. Like the vendors, LO’s travel a lot and will talk about how great your boogie was. Even though you’re paying your LO’s, ensure they are comfortable during their stay.
V. STAY ORGANIZED
Good organization will result in a good event. Regardless of your boogie’s size, strong organization is key to a successful outcome. Below is a mindmap created for the 2012 CarolinaFest boogie. Each separate department has a different color code and displayed all the details for that individual department. This allowed me a clear vision to clearly see all that needed to be done.
Keep everyone “in the know.” Create binders of information and fill them with info so everyone working the event knows what’s happening. Information in these packets should include: staff work schedules, volunteer schedules, list of responsibilities, LO accommodations list, vendor lists, evening event schedules etc. Below is an example of flight schedules for load organizers. Accompanying this list would be a list showing which staff members are responsible for picking up LO’s at the airport.
Registration is the first impression - be organized.
Be sure registration is organized with trained staff who are looking for:
- Reserve Repacks
- Verifying jump numbers by checking log books
- Bracelets, pre-paid tickets, welcome letter etc in pre-registration envelopes.
- Two lines for registration. On-site registration and pre-registration lines.
V. SAFETY - Do Not Compromise Safety
It is not uncommon to hear of a great boogie to be followed by the comment that it was lax in safety. Showing your jumpers that you’re serious about safety will keep them coming back…plus it’s your responsibility to create as safe an environment as possible.
Critical Needs for Safety:
- No shortage of aircraft loaders
- An S&TA in the landing areas at all times observing patterns and issuing advice and warnings where necessary.
- An air-boss when multiple aircraft are operating especially when there are varying speeds of aircraft, tandem operations and specialty aircraft (helicopters) using the airspace.
- Dedicated fueling team
- Paramedics on-site during the heaviest of boogie days (Saturday) for quick response to any issues.
Boogies are a lot of work but regardless of size, stay organized, pay attention to details and treat everyone well. The combination of these three points will allow for a successful event.