Dear Event Doctor:

We have noticed a variety of approaches when it comes to  signage at events to help direct the flow of traffic for vehicles and pedestrians. For our own events, however, we’ve not paid a lot of attention to this. How can we be more professional when it comes to helping our attendees find their way?

—Signing On

Dear Signing:

The first question to ask yourself is: Who is my audience? By the time you are ready to open the gates to your event, you’ve been through your host stadium, arena or gymnasium dozens of times, driven the approach roads, come to understand the dynamics of parking. How many times will your fans have had the opportunity to do the same? Walk a mile in their shoes—literally. Will the majority already be familiar with the host site and will they understand how to navigate from wherever they will come to wherever they will go without additional way-finding devices?

The second question is: How much have I changed the way my host venue operates? Are there parking facilities that usually service my site that will be unavailable? Will there be traffic diversions or road closures? Have you installed event features that are not usually part of the facility’s campus such as hospitality sites, sponsor activation attractions, temporary spectator areas or additional competitive venues? If the answer is “yes” to any of the above, supplementary way-finding signage is a must.

Consider posting a printable site map on your event’s website so fans can plan their visit, with recommended driving directions and parking information. If you offer an event app, be sure the map is available there. Physical way-finding signage can be posted on frames made of truss or fastened to existing light posts. Ensure the signage is securely fastened, does not create trip hazards and cannot be moved or rotated into other positions by passersby brushing into them. If your event is at night, ensure the signage is lit. Include posting maps with “you are here” markings. Electronic signage is particularly effective and programmable when the need arises. Variable message signage (VMS) are those temporary directional devices you commonly see along highway construction sites. They are rentable and their high visibility makes them very useful for providing directions to motorists.

The question of whether way-finding signage is a facility or organizer responsibility may be a function of the host bid or venue lease. Unless it was included or negotiated to be provided as an enhancement to the bid, or will be installed permanently as a venue upgrade, it will typically fall to the event organizer to budget for and develop the way-finding program.

This first appeared in Sports Travel Magazine and appears here courtesy of SCHNEIDER PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC.