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A King To Conquer All with Joe DeSena, founder of

Spartan Race










02 JUNE 2012

Upcoming Summer Events JUNE

University Event Planners Conference 3rd, University of Michigan; www.emeraldcitydesigns. com/university-event-plannersconference-june-3rd

CHOOSE A HIVE Examples of the many events that can use

Bswarms Online Registration System Half & Full Marathons Conferences & Summits 5K, 10K, 15K Races Concerts & Plays Music & Art Festivals Company Retreats Charity Fundraisers Networking Socials Adventure & Obstacle Races Banquets & Galas Political Campaigns Triathlons & Duathlons Holiday & Firework Shows

Tradeshows & Expos Monster Truck Rallys SWAT & Air Shows Cycling Races Boarding & Ski Circuits Informational Luncheons Tournaments Seminars & Workshops Recreation Leagues & Clubs Motocross Series Sky & Water Competitions Online Donations & Many More!

2012 Summer Giveaway

PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association) Conference 1013th, San Antonio, TX; Education/Meetings-and-Events/ Education-Conference.htm

Bizbash Expo and Awards 13th, Pasadena, CA; www.bizbash. com/ourevents/

FCIP (Financial & Insurance Conference Planners) 20-22nd, Charleston, SC;


Event Planning for Geeks 16-20th, Portland, OR; www.oscon.

com/oscon2012/public/schedule/ detail/24368

MPI (Meeting Professionals International) World Exchange Congress 28-31st, St. Louis, MO;


ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) Annual Meeting & Expo 11-14th, Dallas, TX; www. registration_information.cfm

Sign up your event today for FREE to enter our Summer Giveaway*

Hundreds of events may enter. Few will win. For details, please visit the sweepstake website at

*Each event is an entry. Unlimited entries per coordinator. First 50 coordinators are accepted. Deadline 9/1/2012 is subject to change without notice.




very day, we hear of a new race, music festival, conference, fundraiser, air show, or gathering of some sort pop up. With only so many days in a year, how do you choose which to go to? The answer is easy; the ones where you will receive everything you paid for and have a blast. From an attendee standpoint, life is great. From a coordinator standpoint, you may have your work cut out for you. Anyone can hype up their inaugural show and obtain a presence, but if you have dreams of everyone returning for round two, you need to give them some good reasons. The best reason is a great culture; family-like. Generating such a culture around your event may not be one of the more facile endeavors ahead of you, but do not get discouraged. It has been achieved before, and it can again; by you. Well-known examples of event

04 JUNE 2012

loyalty range all categories of interest such as the world’s near Olympic athletes of the Spartan Race Series, the pink sea of Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure, the unique characters of Comic-Con, and the eclectic minds of the Sundance Film Festival. Every one of these humbly began with a decision to construct an event in a familiar genre, be it adventure race, charity, expo, or creative review. It was not just what they did as well (or better) as their competition; rather, what they did completely different that placed them up top. There are five factors of your event that can make the difference between becoming champ or chump:

great, but make sure they are. Do not get greedy. Mother Dearest always told me, “Pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered.” Most important of all, You- The decisions you make, skills you possess, and passion for what you are creating can sometimes make all the difference.

Michael Burciaga Founder, Editor-In-Chief

Content- Loyalty is a two-way street. If you do not offer up anything special, there is no reason for your fans to dish out cash on you.

Location- Sure, the price of a ticket may be cheap, but if buyers have to cross a troll bridge to get there, they may reconsider making the trip. Even if they do decide to cough up the travel expenses, a poor quality venue or race route will likely get you a cold shoulder the next time you send out invites.

Marketing- Know your audience. If you target correctly you could save some serious green. If you are creative enough, you may not spend a dime.

Price- If the numbers are worth it,

“The proof of Spartan Race’s success is to look at the increase in interest. They’ve found a winning way to get America back on the road to wellness.” Sonja Dewing, author of A True Spartan

THE TEAM PUBLISHER Travis Blythe EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Dwamian Mcleish ART DIRECTOR Erica Weaver SALES ASSISTANT Shannon Spake CONTRIBUTORS Sonja Dewing Barbara Kieker Mandy Adwell

SPECIAL THANKS Kali Interactive Spectrum Printing Joe DeSena

ADVERTISING 877-885-7129 Ext. 5

A True Spartan

How a man dedicated to challenging himself found a few friends with the same mentality and created one of the most popular adventure race series in the world.

Live on the Fringe

PG 11

Five successful events that made their name by being a little different than the rest of us.

Steal the Spotlight

Five basic skills which are often overlooked that can help you stand out as a better coordinator.

PG 6

Under the Hood

Some simple tips to tune-up the popularity & attendance of your next event.

PG 14

PG 9

Live on the Fringe. Every year a few inspired organizers present exceptional events that attract a following and generate a buzz. Here are five noteworthy examples and the inspiration that sets them apart. By Barbara Kieker 06 JUNE 2012

New Orleans Fringe Festival Celebrate spontaneity. The New Orleans Fringe Festival puts a Big Easy spin on the typical “alternative arts” fringe festival model. Singing, dancing and theatre performances segue into parties that last through the night. A walk between venues reveals yard art on fences and walls, in courtyards and empty lots, and on front doors and porches. “It’s the performers’ version of Mardi Gras,” said Shannon Flaherty, media coordinator. Started with a $2,000 grant in 2008, the festival budget grew to more than $100,000 in 2011. The five-day event was spread across 33 venues including Bring-Your-Own Venue options that featured a parking lot, coffee shop, yoga studio and someone’s living room. “We can’t wait to see what performers bring to the festival this year,” Flaherty said.

Chess Train

Bike & Build

Put it in motion.

Combine the seemingly unrelated.

Last fall, the first-ever Chess Train tournament was played during a five-day train journey that began and ended in Prague. The 15-round rapid chess tournament took place onboard the train during the day, while evenings were spent enjoying local food and sights in Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava and Krakow. Pavel Matocha, head of the Prague Chess Society, organized the event in cooperation with Czech Railways. More than 100 participants including chess-players, family members and friends travelled onboard the special nine-car train commissioned for the event. “It was not only chess. It was a nice trip over five beautiful central European countries,” Matocha said. “The Chess Train should be repeated every year.”

Bike & Build combines cross-country bicycling with a commitment to the affordable housing cause. Since 2003, more than 1,500 participants have cycled across the U.S. on more than 60 trips and collectively raised more than $3.3 million. “What is so extraordinary about Bike & Build is the commitment to service our riders make,” said Justin Villere, director of Operations and Outreach for Bike & Build. All riders must raise $4,500 to participate, complete 500 training miles on their bike and study the affordable housing cause in Button Wagon, a clown couple from Penasco, NM, perform at the 2011 New Orleans Fringe Festival (Across). Jacob Richardson’s team posing for a pic during their cross-country ride to help communities in need (Below). Players deep in thought during a five-day chess tournament held on a train across central Europe (Above).

depth. On the two-plus month rides, riders average 70 miles a day, stop in dozens of communities, build low-cost housing and engage with hundreds of people. After the ride, a strong majority stays involved in the cause.

Spartan Death Race Make it extreme.

The Spartan Death Race in Pittsfield, VT is arguably the most radical of extreme sporting events. According to Spartan Death Race spokesman Doug Drotman, nothing challenges an athlete mentally and physically like the 48-hour Death Race. “The event creators are not there to cheer you on. Their goal is to make you quit. We are very proud that less than 20 percent of competitors complete the race and we make it harder every year to make sure that does not change,” Drotman said. Race details are never released, as the mystery is an important part of the mental challenge. The overwhelming success of the Death Race has led to a series of shorter obstacle events – from 5Ks to 12mile races – that offer more people a taste of the ultimate extreme.

LEGO® World 2012 Play.

In February 2012, LEGO lovers experienced the opportunity to play with 10 tons of the iconic bricks while being inspired by 250 constructed models. The occasion was LEGO® World 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark, a four-day event that let kids and adults alike experience all the options available in the LEGO universe. Imagine convention center halls filled with mountains of bricks and crawling with hundreds of kids, including kids at heart. The possibilities are staggering especially when you consider that just six 2x4 LEGO bricks can be put together in 915,103,765

08 JUNE 2012

Thousands of kids of all ages enjoying the endless opportunities of their imagination with 10 tons of the iconic, colorful bricks. ways, according to the company’s website. Clearly LEGO lovers appreciate the possibilities. LEGO World events have been held in Copenhagen, Norway and the Netherlands, where it regularly draws 70,000 annual visitors.

Incorporating the unique and unexpected can delight your conference attendees, keep them talking and coming back year after year. Let one of these five examples spark your imagination and amp up your next event. Know of a really unique event you would like to share with us? Let us know at

Steal the Spotlight 5 qualities to stand out as an event director by Mandy Adwell

So you are directing an event. Whether it is your first or your hundredth, there is always something to learn about how to run it as smoothly as possible. There is no exact science to what creates the perfect event, but with an open mind and the right set of skills, you will have the confidence you need to set up and tear down without a hitch.



When setting up virtually any event, something will happen that needs a quick creative fix. You don’t need to be MacGyver, but whether it is a tent that refuses to stay put or another display from a competitor that looks uncomfortably similar to yours, there is often only a New York minute to change it, fix it, or replace it. A strong imagination and the right tools will get you through even the most seemingly disastrous problems.


Killer event crew.

Rome was not built in a day, and it was not built by one guy or gal, either. You are going to need a strong, motivated team you can rely on, especially when those quick creative fixes are needed. Choose your team wisely, and make sure their skills are diverse enough to get even the most difficult or bizarre tasks completed. This also means it pays to have a big rolodex of contacts, as you never know what kind of skill you will need to tackle projects that come up. The more you work events, the more contacts and resources you will obtain.


Great people skills.


“Dare to be different” attitude.

Sure, this is obvious, but also of exceptional importance because any and all issues are coming straight to you. Whether its issues brought on by event-goers or a problem with the setup crew, you are going to have to handle it. Take a deep breath, smile, and bring on the charm.

Ifoyouowantopeopleoto rememberoyouroevent, you’re going to have to do it differently than anyone else has before. Give event-goers something they will remember, whether it is a care package stocked with a water bottle and sweat band for a running event, or a post-event text message thanking them for getting involved and supporting your event or company. Even the smallest efforts make a big impact if they’re executed properly


Passion for what you do. This is undoubtedly the most



important quality of a stand-out event director. If you are putting on an event, this process is going to be miserable and daunting if you are not passionate about it. Aside from enjoying events in general, a good event director will show enthusiasm to clients about their upcoming event, be genuinely passionate about working with people, and take extreme satisfaction in knowing they put on an unforgettable show. Even if a director does not have years of experience or every tiny skill necessary, the desire to get the job done will make up for it. Many big name events started off with humble beginnings, only to be driven into the spotlight by pure ambition and the desire to create something magnificent. After all, what is the point in investing all this time in something you do not enjoy?


If you are feeling overwhelmed, remember these traits are often acquired and come with experience. The more you work at event planning, the more you will begin to realize what you need, what works, and what can always be improved.

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10 JUNE 2012


A True Spartan Exclusive with the creator himself, Joe Desena By Sonja Dewing


oe DeSena is proud to say “I’ve been building businesses since I was thirteen years old.” That revelation should not come as a surprise when you learn he is one of the innovative minds behind Spartan Race, a multi-level series of extreme races that has attracted more than 100,000 participants in just one year of events. And building Spartan Race is definitely going the right direction. In 2011 Spartan Race was chosen by readers of Outside Magazine’s poll as best obstacle race. That

is because Joe and his crew have created something decidedly different from other events like Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash. While other obstacle course events only ask for participants to finish the course, Spartan Race puts the focus on timing participant completion, thus creating a more competitive experience. When they say race, they mean race. Spartan Race also set itself apart by having races with varying levels of difficulty, thereby allowing participants to try out a simpler version before moving

up to a more difficult level. The simplest race is the Spartan Sprint, a three mile course with about 15 obstacles. Next up is the eight mile Super Spartan with up to twenty obstacles. The Spartan Beast takes racers on a twelve mile course with up to twenty-five obstacles. Beyond the Beast, racers have to apply for the more rigorous courses like the newest one this year, the Ultra Beast, a full marathon length of obstacles. Then there is the most challenging of all, the Death Race, a forty-eight hour endurance race built to challenge racers mentally, physically, and emotionally in order to, as their website says, “break the body and spirit.”

and all the athletes are there to compete and not drink beer and party.”

The motivation for the races came to Joe and seven of his friends in 2004. Joe was already a veteran of Ironman and other endurance races but he and the group wanted to find a way to truly test themselves, and find others that would be willing to be challenged. Inspired by people that when defied by the forces of nature still accomplished goals, like David Breashears, the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest, Joe created the twenty-four hour Death “There’s a Race. From that concept, Spartan Race was born. Initially inviting friends and limited time family to join them, by word of mouth on the planet. the event grew. Then the New York Times published a story about a Spartan It’s the most Race and public interest exploded.

And Spartan obstacles are not just the standard things you might think of like climbing a wall, or crawling under barbed wire. Although those things might appear in a race, other obstacles are built to precious thing challenge the mind, like solving one side In his thirty years of building businesses, of a Rubik’s cube. Also, prior to the race, we have...” Joe had the luck of coming across a no one knows exactly what challenges lot of great people. So, to handle the Joe DeSena to expect, creating an exhilarating sudden increase, Joe called in those uncertainty in what is to come. Participants people he knew he could count on to get of Spartan Race are quick to point out the differences, as well. Hobie Call, who won almost all the races things organized. Although Joe and his friends would rather in 2011 in an attempt to win a $100,000 dollar purse offered participate in the events, they know that by managing these up by Joe DeSena, says that “Spartan Race is leading the way races, which have taken a life of their own, they are doing when it comes to making obstacle racing a legitimate sport, something good for the public. Overseeing over 30 events not just a challenge followed by a party.” That legitimacy is difficult, and Joe tries his best to look over every course. is echoed by Travis Blythe, who competed in two races last Meanwhile he wants to be able to spend time with his wife year; “When you are at the Spartan, there are no costumes, and growing number of children, his full-time job of trading, 12 JUNE 2012

as well as his working farm and event company tucked away in Vermont. All the while, Spartan Race continues to grow and, busy as he is, Joe wants it that way. According to him the mission statement for Spartan Race is to “rip a million people off their couches” and he really means it. He talks excitedly about an email he received from a man that used to weigh five hundred pounds. He has lost a hundred and fifty pounds so far training for a Spartan Race and plans to get under two-hundred. It may be that Joe is inspired by those who defy nature, but it also sounds like he’s found even more motivation from those who aspire to make the race. In talking with Joe DeSena you can tell it is not about the money. “There’s a limited time on the planet. It’s the most precious thing we have and how could we not utilize it to the fullest?” In addition, he has turned away many investors when their interests did not mesh with the goals of Spartan Race. Hobie Call, who met Joe DeSena at his first Spartan Race says “I instantly liked him. These races are an outward expression of his true character.  And as you know, I absolutely love these races.” Joe feels that the Spartan Race series appeals to the public because we realize we have become complacent in our lives and we need something more. Plus, “It’s hard to motivate The Spartan Crew gearing up (Across). The “Barbed Crawl” under sharp barbs & The “Leap of Faith” over a wall of flames are two of the many challenges competitors will face at Spartan events (Below).

people to get out and go for a run or go workout. It’s a little easier when you get them to play like 007 would or a Navy Seal would for a day.” And it is obvious that Joe knows what people want; the newest addition just this year of the Ultra Beast, the marathon sized obstacle race, has received a lot of applications already. And if Joe has his way, he’d take Spartan Race all the way to the Olympics. Joe laughingly mentions that all the founders of Spartan Race are only allowed to sleep on beds of barbed wire. If it would make the world a better place, I am sure he would do just that.



Things You Don’t Know About Me Joe DeSena

I love dogs I ride a bike to work I wear pajamas at work I wear a weight vest all day I am gluten free I am an environmental freak

Under The Hood

5 components to help boost your event’s performance BY MANDY ADWELL When planning an event, it is not uncommon for the most experienced of planners to skip over the details that really make an event stand out. While in the planning process, it’s important to remember that every step from registration to “thank you” notes will set the tone for your event. Here are some creative ways to maximize the standout aspects of your event and turn it into something people will remember.


Create an enticing offer to go with your registration

Registration information is often the first thing many people see when deciding whether or not to attend your event, so this is the place to make it count. There may not be a need for a huge, mind-blowing presentation here, but offering promotional offers, scoop on what is in the swag bags, or even something that says “visit this vendor before noon for a free gift” is enough to get people coming out.


Treat the vendors to something valuable, too

Many event directors dedicate their resources and brain power to offering something special to event-goers, but it is also important to keep the vendors in mind. After all, they are one of the strongest driving forces of your event. Offer a useful token of appreciation to vendors such as a quality leather nametag that also holds money or business cards, a subscription to a business magazine, or hats and sunglasses if they will be spending long hours outdoors.


Offer a premium experience

There is always someone willing to pay a little more to feel extra special at an event. Offer a “VIP” or “Premium” service for an additional fee, where participants will receive additional benefits such as food and drink packages, access to a particular space, early entry, or backstage passes. For this, there are no limits to your creativity. 14 JUNE 2012


Partner with a musician, entertainer, or author

Bringing in well-recognized names is obviously a great way to gather a crowd. If you’re looking to work with local performers, bringing in one or two large, well-established acts is a great way to encourage them to perform, as it could be a one-of-a-kind opportunity for them to say they were in a show together.


Start a pre-event social media contest

Chances are if you’re putting on an event, you’re using social media to advertise (and if not, what’s stopping you?). Go beyond the basic updates and information tweets and host contests leading up to the event. Ask questions relevant to your industry and pick a winner to receive 2 free tickets or other promotional items. Get current fans and followers to tell their friends by hosting a promotion or giveaway once you reach a certain number of “Likes” or “Followers.” Engaging in social media is one of the most important ways for an event manager to communicate with customers, and finding a unique way to do it is just as important.

If you think you need a giant ad budget and years of experience to come up with new, innovative event-planning ideas, don’t sweat it! You already have the creativity and resources, so don’t be afraid to put them to use. HOST Magazine is published monthly by BSWARMS LLC. Copyright © 2012 by BSWARMS LLC. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to 2300 Valley View Lane, Suite 360, Irving, TX 75062. SUBSCRIBERS: Domestic recipients may register online to receive HOST Magazin. For international shipping, please contact our office by phone or email. Online viewing is also available at Printed in the U.S.A. host. If the postal authorities alert us that your magazine PLEASE RECYCLE is undeliverable, we have no further obligation unless we THIS MAGAZINE receive a corrected address within 18 months.




More than just a check-in based app, this one is about the conversation you have after the check in. They have features to post polls, direct message your friends and get rewards from local businesses. A feature that we LOVE is the survey section. If you are an event or location and want some feedback, just post a survey monkey on there and let them answer it once they check-in!

Imagine hosting a conference, trade-show, or an outdoor event. Now imagine a huge jumbo-tron playing videos for all of your attendees or registrants to watch. With several options from a video sound board to having your attendees upload their own videos, this is a great way to promote, educate and generate Dangerous BUZZ around your event.

Your attendees create an account, add their picture, and Meet MeMe will ship custom created social networking cards to your event. They even staff the distribution of those cards, and show up with custom games that they will tailor just for your audience. Nothing says fun like adult trading cards!

If you have a sporting event which is slightly off the wall and not the norm, BS&C has a whole database of people wanting that information. Get a daily email from them and unlock the abnormal, the sometimes absurd, but definitely fun events. They also send out tons of information including product reviews, helpful tips, and where to get your Cheers on!

16 JUNE 2012

Host Magazine June Issue  

This is our June issue of HOST magazine, which is dedicated to event professionals of all types, race directors, event planners and event or...