I love to attend events and take mental notes on what I see and experience throughout the day. I pay attention to the flow of lines, the looks on people’s faces, the atmosphere, the merchandise, etc. It allows me to build helpful tips to pass along so you can learn from other events’ victories and shortcomings.

There was a particular event that I attended that ticked people off so badly, they were practically turning around in the parking lot to leave before the event even began. I’ll walk you through what happened and how you can prevent this blunder from happening at your event.

It all started a quarter-mile before the parking lot entrance. The line to enter the lot had backed up way down the road. Why you ask? The event had a single line of entry and was charging a $10 cash only parking fee.

Participants were upset about this unexpected fee, but not as furious as they were about the cash only payment option. I mean, who carries cash these days anyway? Even remote villages in El Salvador accept Visa. People were so pumped for the event, they would have gotten over the parking fee, but the fact that they couldn’t even pay it meant… you guessed it! They had to leave to find an ATM. (And, might I mention, this event wasn’t located right in town either.)

When the participants expressed their surprise and frustration about the parking fee, the parking attendants claimed, “It was mentioned in email communication leading up to the event. You must not have read it.” Let’s first take notice that that is not a response I would recommend giving to a ticked off participant. Secondly, if this were true, my hunch is, that important detail was likely buried in paragraphs of information nobody read; which basically made the email useless.

Once people finally made it in the parking lot, many were tailgating, blasting fun music and rallying each other up, I even saw a few high chest bumps take place to reestablish the energy and enthusiasm.

That excitement soon fizzled yet again though. It was a long trek from the parking lot to the event check in. Seated outside the check in point where two volunteers at a small table with a stack of papers and pens. These volunteers were stopping excited participants in their tracks to sign a waiver and were requiring to see ID in order to sign.

These participants had to take an angry jaunt back to their car to grab their ID, then return to checkin to sign the waiver. This was the type of event where an ID would not survive the badassery that was about to ensue, so many ran back to their cars to drop off their ID. You would think they would be safe to enter at this point.But wait, it got worse…When these participants returned to checkin after dropping their IDs back off at the car, the participants were additionally greeted with, “Wait, you need to sign a waiver. Can we please see your ID?” The people at the checkin table had no way to verify who had previously signed the waiver or not. You can imagine how this went over….There was name calling, finger pointing, gate skipping and chaos.

Here are 8 easy ways this madness could have been prevented:

  1. Send an email that has “Attention” or “Important Notice” in the subject line and only include the very vital details. Space out an additional email that can include the supplemental information rather than cramming it all into one.
  2. Accept credit card payment for the parking fee.
  3. Post signs leading up to the entrance reminding people to have their payment method ready.
  4. Better yet, include the parking pass on your registration form and even make it required. RedPodium makes this step a breeze.
  5. Have the parking attendants inform people as they enter the parking lot.
  6. Have a guy with a blow horn in the parking lot chanting fun things and reminding people to grab their IDs.
  7. Give a wristband to people once they sign the waiver.
  8. Host a packet pickup the day prior at a sponsoring store, restaurant, shop or gym.

Please take the advice above and avoid this disastrous situation. Nothing makes us cringe more than when we see events make mistakes that leave a bad taste in attendees mouths, especially when the mistakes could have been prevented!