This is going to come as a surprise to some of you, but at Sharethebus we’re all about buses. I know, I know – shocking. But what I’m hearing is these days there’s no such thing as a good blog post without shock value.
But seriously, we’re so accustomed to awkward, uncomfortable bus trips from city to city that we forgot how much fun we used to have back in the day in the back of the bus (cue OutKast song).
Over the last 12 months we’ve worked with hundreds of event organizers and the fact remains: buses are the best way to get to an event. Hands down. No questions asked. Truth is, when you have a bus that’s designated for a specific event it’s different than any other way of getting to an event. Why? Because what happens is you get on a the bus, maybe with a group of friends, and meet a lot of strangers, and by the end of the trip you’ve made 40 new friends. A (rather large) wolf pack, if you will. This all happens because you’re traveling to an event with a common cause, and that denominator makes all the difference.
There’s a lot that we’ve seen, and I think it’s time that we let you in on a few secrets. Without further ado, here’s five things you can do to make an awesome bus experience:
1. Have a competition
A competition? On a bus? Yep.
Here’s what we’ve seen. FounderFuel's Demo Day runs buses from Toronto, Ottawa, and Quebec City to Montreal for entrepreneurs and startup peeps. On the way there they have a pitch competition for entrepreneurs to pitch their companies in front of an audience of tech enthusiasts. Why’s it great? Because the buses also have journalists, angel investors, and freelancers from the area. As an entrepreneur, it’s insanely difficult to get some time with an angel investor or a journalist so this is your shot.
What’s more is the winners on each bus’s pitch competition gets to pitch for 30 seconds on Demo Day in front of a crowd of 1,000 people. That finalist gets a spot in the following year’s FounderFuel cohort.
On one bus ride you could literally change the entire direction of your business.
2. Give your attendees some swag
As an attendee, there’s nothing better than those great unexpected surprises. It improves the experience and leaves a positive impression of the organizer. Republic Live’s WayHome provided attendees with a grab bag filled with some sunglasses, sunscreen, and an event map.
This did a couple of things. First, attendees were able to get acquainted with the festival grounds: figuring out where they’d be camping, where the stages are, and getting insanely hyped for the upcoming sets.
3. Speakers on a bus
You can often request that a bus has a microphone system. This opens up the floor for all sorts of relevant talks.
We’ve seen this work great for student conferences where they’ll invite speakers on buses to give Q&As on relevant subjects before the event. It’s also terrific for larger conferences where attendees may travel between various venues for different experiences. A speaker could prep their moods for the change in ambience.
4. Prep your buses for a proper nap
Under many circumstances, your travelers may hope to catch some shuteye on their bus trip, either to or from the event. Sure, sometimes reclining in your seat and closing your eyes is enough, but often you can go a step above. Providing travelers with a sleeping mask and earplugs can set the scene for the most perfect nap. You can take it a step further by playing white or brown noise in the background. This is great for things like hackathons or night trips home from music festivals.
5. Feed the people!
You’re probably thinking this is the most obvious one, but it must still be mentioned.
Hack the North and Sharethebus provided travelers arriving from the airport with Starbucks frappuccinos, granola bars, and bottled water. If you’re flying in all the way from Italy, like some attendees did, something as simple as a refreshment and a snack to kill the hunger can go a long way.
On FounderFuel’s Demo Day, they also make it a point to get everyone a couple of slices of pizza. On the bus. Not to mention several baskets filled with fruits and water bottles.
There are other things that can be done, too. Partnering with local food trucks at departure or arrival points is an awesome way to promote local businesses and hook travelers up with a taste of something different. And, in the summer, delighting passengers with a surprise ice cream stop goes a long way too. Imagine on the way back from a team-building hike for your company you get everyone a cone of soft serve.
We believe that buses are awesome.
The way people get to your event shouldn’t be underestimated. Buses, and the ride there, is an extension of your event. Make sure you’re leaving your travelers with a lasting impression.
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