Event transportation is one of those aspects of an event that’s much more important than your guests and attendees ever realize. In fact, most people won’t give it a second thought, unless your transportation system malfunctions somehow. At that point, it becomes apparent just how key transportation is to the success of an event! Ideally, the transport you plan or implement is a smooth, seamless system that gets everyone where they need to go, with no delay and no fuss. But planning and executing may be a little more complicated than you realize.
Why Provide Event Transportation?
What’s the point of providing transportation, when there are already so many options for public and private transport? Depending on the location of your event, guests and attendees may already have options such as the bus, train, or subway. Many cities also have taxis, and almost everywhere has Uber and Lyft available. For local events, people can drive their own cars. Isn’t it easier to just let attendees choose and plan their own transport?
Not always, and here’s why:
- The extra planning is tough on the guests themselves, particularly people attending an event from out of town.
- Having guests arrive via a pre-planned transportation system may actually help your event run more smoothly. This is especially true if there’s a specific schedule involved once attendees arrive at the venue. In this case, having everyone arrive at the same time, in the same place, is actually an advantage.
- It solves the potential problem of ensuring enough event parking for everyone to arrive and travel by car.
- It’s usually more sustainable than each guest getting themselves from place to place.
- Providing event transportation lets your guests enjoy themselves without having to worry about getting where they need to be. Handling transportation for them takes the hassle out of this part of the event, making it an overall better experience.
Pro tip: Event transportation is a great sponsor opportunity! This can help offset the cost while providing an event feature that attendees will really appreciate.
5 Options You Can Set Up for Event Transportation
Whichever mode of transportation you choose, make sure it can accommodate people of all levels of ability. It might seem fun and innovative to rent e-scooters or Segways, for instance, but these transport solutions leave some people out. And, when renting vehicles, make sure your fleet includes one or more that can accommodate a wheelchair.
- Bus or coach. If you need to move a large number of people to and from a venue, a bus or coach is likely your best bet. For an eco-friendly option, choose a service that uses electric buses.
- Shuttle. For events where there are multiple pickup or drop-off points, a shuttle service is often the best option. It’s also ideal in cases where people are likely to need the service at several points throughout the day.
- On-demand transit shuttle services. A more dynamic alternative to shuttles, this service automatically scales the availability of drivers and vehicles to meet demand. One example is Via, which provides on-demand shuttle services in dozens of cities across the U.S. and Canada.
- Lyft concierge. With this modified Lyft service, you provide users with a personalized link they can use to request a Lyft that you pay for. It’s not a totally seamless setup, however: You have to enter each user into the app and then send them the personalized link. They then have to use it within 24 hours. It’s not a flexible or dynamic enough system to transport large numbers of people, but it may be suitable for a small event or to transport speakers and other special guests.
- Rideshare aggregator app. What if your event budget doesn’t stretch to providing transportation? You can still help your guests find affordable transport by recommending a rideshare aggregator app.
A rideshare aggregator is an app that compares the prices of popular rideshare services, to help users get the best price available. This also helps the user save time, as they only have to enter their details once to see what rates are available.
Getting Your Event Transportation System Set Up
The setup for your transportation system won’t look exactly the same for every event. But there is a set of steps you can go through each time to decide what you need your system to look like, and to then get it ready for use.
1. Gather Data
Your first step is to gather together all the relevant data that will determine your transport solution for the event. Some questions to ask at this stage include:
- How many people are attending?
- How many people are coming from out of town and staying at partner hotels? These are the people your transportation system needs to provide for.
- How many partner hotels do you have, and how many people are staying at each one? This data will help you create a shuttle route.
- How many locations does your event involve, and where are they?
- What is your event schedule?
- When are the busiest times likely to be? If the event has a designated start, or kicks off with a keynote address, there will likely be a busy period ahead of that time. At a trade show, on the other hand, people also arrive and leave throughout the day.
- Are there other events happening at the same time, either at the same venue or elsewhere in the city?
- What public and private transportation options are available?
- Is the public transportation system robust enough that some attendees are likely to use it?
2. Develop a Transportation Plan
With the data you’ve gathered, you can work out a rough transportation plan. You don’t need to go into great detail at this point; just create a rough plan so you can give vendors an idea of what you need. In most cases, you’ll either be providing a two-way trip mode of transportation or a shuttle service.
Two-way trip. For a half-day or full-day event where most people will stay for the entire thing, a two-way event shuttle or bus service may work best This service takes people to the event venue at the start of the day, then makes the return trip at the end of the event. It can include door-to-door pickup or arrange to pick people up at one or more designated locations.
This is by far the easier method to plan, as it just requires a headcount and a list of pickup locations to create a route. Once you know how many people you need to move and when they need to arrive by, you can estimate how long it will take to get them to the venue. Make sure to account for boarding time, as well as time spent traveling between pickup points.
Full-day shuttle service. If your event is one where people will be coming and going throughout the day, then a single two-way trip won’t provide an adequate level of service. In this case, a shuttle service that travels a circuit between the venue and partner hotels or designated pickup points is a better fit.
Creating a workable route is harder here, as you need to design one that moves people around throughout the whole day. A couple tips to doing it well:
- Investigate traffic at different times of the day to see if there are busy periods when congestion might occur.
- Consider if there might be times of day when larger numbers of attendees want to get to the venue, versus slow periods where fewer people need the shuttle service.
For large events with several partner hotels and a high attendee count, you may even need multiple shuttle routes, with multiple shuttles servicing each one.
3. Call Vendors
When you have most of your route information worked out, you can start contacting vendors for pricing estimates. The cost of transportation depends on the number of vehicles and drivers you need, along with the number of hours and days you need the service for.
You’ll probably find it helpful to talk to a vendor before you finalize your transportation plan. They’ll have essential information, such as vehicle capacity and efficiency, that will factor into your plan and budget.
After you’ve chosen a vendor, you can then finalize your route details and your vehicle and driver needs. Make sure to ask your transportation partner to test-drive your chosen route, so you get an accurate round-trip time. Also make sure they have vehicles that can accommodate a wheelchair(s) and that those vehicles are available for your event.
A Good Event Transportation Plan Helps Make Your Event Smooth
The success of your event doesn’t hinge on the event transportation system you choose to implement. But a good event transportation system can definitely make an event better for guests and attendees. If people can get where they need to go smoothly, without any fuss, they’ll have a better overall experience.