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« You Don't Always Need to Reinvent the Internet | Main | Using Photos on Your Web Site »

Putting Directions Online and Your Event

Directions and parking instructions are an important consideration for almost every event organizer. The more information you can provide your patrons the better. It is in your best interest not to have your patrons guessing on parking procedures. Your web site is your single best place for distributing various forms of parking and event arrival information. I've include some points on directions and parking below for you to consider.

Provide Patrons with Hyper Accurate Information
You need to make sure that directions to your event are hyper accurate. In recent years there have been great improvements with online mapping services. Unfortunately, getting your directions from an online source isn't always the most accurate source. Have you ever used an online service for directions and found yourself lost? Make sure you have a real person actually go out and test the instructions.  It might seem a bit overboard to some, but imagine what would happen if hundreds or thousands of people used erroneous directions to get to your event? I've seen the emails before and they aren't pretty.

Depending on your event some people might not always arrive by automobile.  Do you have event attendees who are flying in to a local airport?  Are there special considerations they need to take into account?  Your event might be on the water front.  If it's a water front event is there any consideration that non-event attendees need to know?

A Real World Example
One great example of a highly refined directions is the Experimental Aircraft Association's Air Venture.  According to EAA's Dick Knapinski the area around Oshkosh, WI, where the event takes place, becomes the busiest airspace in the world for one week every year. They have tens of thousands of people arriving and departing in various aircraft from around the world. In order to achieve safe aircraft operations there are over 30 pages of instructions for arriving and departing pilots.

Beyond Plain Written Instructions
Can you include additional information aside from written directions/instructions?  Consider using pictures and photographs to help orient event attendees. With services like Google Earth and Microsoft's Live Search Maps satellite and aerial photos have become much more prevalent. Use the aerial photography services to build redundancy and provide additional information for your event. Today more people are using personal GPS systems to get their instructions. You might want to consider providing latitude and longitude information for your event parking.

Where are They Going to Park?
If your directions lead to a parking area there are few important points to remember.  First, let your patrons/customers know precisely where to park their automobile. Is there a parking fee? Let your patrons know up front. You should also let your patrons know where NOT to park their automobiles. A number of events make use of shuttle bus service. Is there shuttle bus service to your event after event patrons park?  Is there a cost to that shuttle bus service? The one thing you want to be conscious of is not upsetting your customers before they get to the actual event.

When the Event is Over
One place event organizers tend to run into trouble is when their patrons are trying to get back home.  Is there some information that can help people expedite getting back home?  Traffic might be a consideration. Are there alternate routes to get your patrons home? Let them know ahead of time using your email and web site. 

It is important to always think beyond the blatantly obvious for event organizers. Bad directions and parking instructions can have your patrons attending or leaving your event unhappy. Focus on creating event directions and instructions that are easy to understand, concise, and highly accurate.

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