I was recently in Tampa for the College Football Playoff Championship. Besides a nice side trip to visit my parents, I got to participate in a variety of activities representative of attending a big event. While there, I attended meetings with College Athletics Directors, visited with some partners to discuss strategies for the coming year, got to network with mutual sponsors of an Athletic Directors’ group, and was invited to a couple of parties held in conjunction with the football game.
It got me thinking about the fun times I’ve had attending big events. There are several things I’ve learned about attending a big event.
Pick your style
Planned out or play it by ear? When we travel, some of us are the itinerary type and some of us are the free spirit type. You can do big events either way, but be aware that even the free spirits should do some planning. For example, know things like unusual traffic closures, and what you are or aren’t allowed to bring with you. And if you are a free spirit, don’t expect to get into the hot new restaurant that weekend, or find a last-minute in to a popular party. But you can still have an amazing time taking advantage of the free activities that usually go along with a big event, like a fan fest. And the atmosphere and people watching in places like high traffic areas, public spaces, etc. can be fun all by itself.
Don’t do it alone
The best times I’ve had at big events are when I’ve been with a group. Not too large, mind you (or at least understand that 16 of you likely won’t get to sit together at certain functions), but enough to have shared experiences, and stories to tell the others in the group when you break off and have unique experiences.
Remember why you are there
If the big football game is what you are focused on, then get to the stadium early, map out a tailgate plan or secure a party pass, and enjoy the complete experience – walk the stadium, eat the food, etc. if you are there more for the pre-game festivities and atmosphere, go ahead and book a flight home right as the game is starting, at least you will have some extra room on the plane. And you will have already had your fun. If there is business associated with the event like there was for me, ensure that you don’t overdo it and miss important meetings and make sure you plan ahead so you can maximize every minute in what is usually s whirlwind few days. You never know which 15 minute interaction will lead to a new business deal.
Most importantly, take some pictures and take some time to soak in the experience. You may or may not get to go to another big event in the future, but there is no doubt those future experiences will be different and that this one was a once-in-a-lifetime event.