Concerts, Tailgating & Festivals Make For Great Destinations & A Few Organizing Headaches
A big event is coming up – a football game with its tailgate parties, a wine and beer festival, a concert, a Jimmy Buffett show, for example – and you have a group of people who want to go together and nobody of course wants to drive.
So you rent a party bus!
Good move. Party buses are great because they bring everybody together, you can party on your way to the event (and for those still standing afterward, on the way home, too) and provide you with “instant” friends to hang out with at the event.
And when party buses go well, then they are a great reward for the organizer(s). But they can present a lot of challenges getting to that point. I know, because I’ve organized dozens of party buses for several years and in fact am doing one right now as I write this blog.
The biggest challenge is getting people to fill the bus. Or at least to cover your costs. Depending on the event and how long you have it – let’s say an all-day event such as a Buffett show – then the bus will cost between $800-1,000. If you charge $30 a head, then you need between 35-40 people.
I always try and get money in advance but here in Southern California we have a huge “flake factor.” One minute you’ve got more people than seats, then suddenly they pull out; girls are especially hard to predict because they won’t go unless their girlfriends go, and the more girlfriends a girl has, the bigger the odds are that the “leader” will flake and take the entire group with her.
It’s often like the waves in the ocean – you get a big swell and then it’s as flat as a lake.
The Good & Bad Facebook Of Event Invitations
Facebook invitations can be good because you can create an event and invite dozens and even hundreds of “friends” in a matter of minutes.
But they are often more of a headache than they solve. It’s those who click “interested.” Well, are they going or not? How do you plan? And with several FB invitations out there, you can’t even be assured those who clicked “going” are actually going on the bus. Unless they pay you in advance, of course.
Determining The Party Bus Departure Time
I always set a time to meet, usually at a popular local bar that everyone likes and here that’s Sharkeez in Hermosa Beach. The time is before the bus leaves because it takes time to get everyone checked in and organized.
Also, some people are invariably running late.
If this sounds like a smooth way to run things, it is, on paper. In reality, you get some people saying “why is the bus leaving so late; we want to get there early and party!”
Then you get other people saying “why is the bus leaving so early; my friends can’t make it until later!”
This puts you right in the middle, especially for those who said they want a seat but have not paid. If you give them the wrong answer, they are likely to bolt and leave you scrambling to try and fill those vacant seats.
So I politely tell people to please meet at the designated time so everyone can get checked in, or at the latest, half an hour after the designated time. This seems to work. Most of the time.
Even with this, I aways get endless “when is the bus actually leaving” messages. If I tell people when the bus is actually leaving, then they won’t show up until half an hour later and that puts us behind schedule. And those that did show up on time start to get antsy and angry because, well, the bus has not left yet and they are anxious to get to the event.
As you can imagine, this can be maddening for the organizer.
Finally, The Rewards Of Organizing A Party Bus
Assuming everyone gets on the bus, I’ve not lost any money, the driver knows where he is going – this is something I make sure of beforehand and I even sit at the front of the bus to direct him, especially when we get near the venue – and people have their cocktails, then I can relax.
And start to have fun myself.
When at events like Buffett – the greatest tailgate party on the planet! – that’s when I feel the true rewards of organizing the bus. I’m in charge, people come to me for advice, want to have drinks with me (even girls on the bus I did not know beforehand, and this has let to some great rewards in the past!) and they thank me for putting it together because they are having a great time.
Those are the things I keep reminding myself of when I’m ready to pull out my hair after that group of seven or eight people suddenly pulled out a few days before the event.