I was recently organizing an event in downtown Austin, Texas. The event space was partially chosen because it offered ease of access, with many public-transportation options.
I built the event page where guests would register online. But soon after the event was posted to this event-planning web service, I received a message to add the Capital Metro Trip Planner. Of course I wanted to add this. After all, the event I was planning was an America Walks/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Walkability Workshop. It made sense that a lot of people attending would consciously choose not to drive.
But why had I, of all people – someone who encourages others to use active transportation – neglected to include the trip planner in the first place? I’m interested in mobility technology and even know some app founders, so it wasn’t that I couldn’t figure out the technology.
Was it because the event was discussing walkability, and I just assumed the registration site would include targeted information for people interested in walking, bicycling, or taking public transportation? Indeed, Kevin Callahan, co-founder MapMyFitness, was speaking at this very event. (It would have been really cool if the registration site could have included a health app related not just to traveling to and from the conference but also somehow related to healthy food choices for the conference attendees.)
Well, having since moved from Austin back to Washington D.C./Arlington, Virginia, I’ve been installing car-free apps like SpotCycle and I joined Capital Bikeshare last week. I am also attending health-, tech-, and transportation-related events while taking a mental note of other event planners’ registration webpages. It seems that they largely neglect adding links to trip planners.
Still curious, I checked out events being held in other major cities like Chicago and New York City. Most event sites didn’t include these links/apps/resources. They should, and how awesome would it be to have the apps or links built right into the registration pages? And they could have different ones depending on where the events are held. For example, in D.C. and Austin, these resources could be included on event-planning pages:
- DC: Capital BikeShare, Car2Go, DC Apps, Hailo MyTaxi, WMATA Trip Planner, ZipCar, CarFreeDiet Arlington Trip Planner
- Austin: Dadnab, CapitalMetro, Commute Solutions, RideScout, RideJoy, Rocket Electrics, Taxi-Cabs, Pedi-Cabs, ZipCar, Car2Go
I came up with this idea after a phone conversation with Julia Fischer, director of events and operations at Tech Cocktail, which hosts events in different communities throughout the U.S. I looked at upcoming events listed on the Tech Cocktail site and found the same thing. So I sent a follow-up email to Julia about including apps and links by city. Hopefully it will happen. I mean, it seems that event planners would do anything to make it easier for potential conference attendees to register for events and not have to spend the extra time looking up transportation information after they have registered.
What I learned is that the next events I organize, or am a part of, will include information about mobility options online that will, in turn, improve the overall satisfaction of event-planners’ customers and the experience of the conference in general.
I encourage you to do the same: please contact event organizers and event-planning websites to encourage them to add “active transportation” information online for their next events.
Photo by Steven Vance