Behind the Curtain of Event Logistics
Jumping up and down in unison with a crowd, belting the lyrics to your favorite song as the artist performs in front of you or feeling the wave of energy that is released by the entire stadium the moment your team scores a goal are the types of moments that stick with people for a lifetime. Creating the atmosphere and the event itself can sometimes take years in the making and it needs many people working together to create a successful event.
A very important element of event management is the transportation of all the equipment and supplies to and from each location. When it comes to the transportation and shipment of cargo, the first things that need to be considered are safety and on-time arrival. However, a big part of the challenge comes from the varying size and shape of the cargo, which also means that different processes and customs work must be done as well. All these factors are at the core of events logistics which demands a precise, careful and well-trained team to support all cargo movements. The real formula for success is the hard work and careful planning that goes on behind the scenes.
Even though the types of cargo and the handling processes are challenging and complicated, it’s what makes events logistics unique. Logistics providers need to clearly understand and be able to handle any type of cargo they may come across. We recently had a chance to speak with Mr. Derek Cassidy, Head of Fairs & Events, DB Schenker Asia Pacific, to get a deeper perspective on what shippers need to consider when shipping cargo for events.
1. What are the most common challenges associated with event and sports logistics?
“The first things we need to ensure is the correct information and knowledge across the customs requirements for different products across different countries. The team needs to be familiar with the rules around temporary importations, documents required to process ATA Carnets (required for temporarily import of certain goods into a country) and any additional licenses or permissions that may be required.
Second is having a goods handling perspective since the products come in all shapes and sizes often with special handling requests from customers. Our teams try to provide the best possible solution: be it packaging needs, storage requirements in the event country or advising the best mode of transportation depending on the timelines. In the end, it is necessary to ensure that all goods reach the event site on time and without any damage.
Figuring out the best solution for the long list of conditions is challenging, but is also what sets it apart from usual logistics solutions.”
2. As events and sports logistics seem to have a wide variety of cargo, could you explain the handling process? Does each type of cargo require different services?
“I am glad you asked this question. This is indeed one of the main aspects that make sports and events handling so challenging, and yet so interesting.
Our teams are therefore expected to continuously improvise and look out for any potential roadblocks that might delay the shipment and have contingency plans accordingly.
At the very outset, this is the most important aspect that our customer service teams are trained to look out for. Teams have to go the extra mile to understand the nature of cargo, dimensions, packaging, etc. Each team meticulously plans the cargo movement. This involves looking into customs requirements, proper packaging and pickup setup, required storage and the arrangements for delivery to the final site.
Furthermore, not all information are readily available and not all customers have the same expectation or understanding of logistics. Our teams are therefore expected to continuously improvise and look out for any potential roadblocks that might delay the shipment and have contingency plans accordingly. The venue of the event requires considerable thought – detailed planning required for things, such as cargo move-in sequence, traffic management and looking after all other requirements of our customers and organizer to make their event participation a success.”
3. What factors are most commonly the highest priority requested by customers?
“Different customers have different priorities and expectations. However, some of the most common ones which we endeavor to fulfill every single movement are around ‘on time delivery’ in the ‘most cost-effective manner’. To make that possible, we have a team of experts around the network advising on various aspects from special handling to ensure cargo safety to documentation as well as from insurance and customs to visibility and tracking. Sticking to the schedule and costs are always on the list of our customers. However, on top of those comes the safety/security of the items.
To meet these three commitments, we make sure to stay on top of every shipment. Our biggest advantage is the global network and reach that Schenker has. Our customer is being advised by experts, wherever the event with a minimal dependence on outside agents. They can expect a consistency in quality of service and logistics advice regardless of which part of the world the event is at.
Sticking to the schedule and costs are always on the list of our customers. However, on top of those comes the safety/security of the items
Customers also benefit from what we like to call ‘Global Know How, Local Expertise.’ DB Schenker takes pride in mixing global know-how with local expertise – regardless the industry. Thus, in time, we end up with this global pool of talent that we can mobilize on top of the know-how honed by our multi-industry experience and influenced by the local organization. What we mean by this is, for instance, you had a successful automotive show in Germany, it is quite possible for us to replicate the solution or organize the event in Thailand by simply getting the same team in Germany to come here and train the local team. Our global pool of talent, and in case of any big event, it doesn’t take long for the experts to fly and support other countries.”
4. What do you think are the most critical factors to making these events successful?
“The most important aspect for us is to ensure that the complete cargo is available to our customer well in time before the event. To ensure this, the most critical factors is sound planning, by when the cargo must leave or arrive, clarity on the customs process for the concerned country and resourcefulness to ensure our team is well capable to manage any unexpected surprises. You need the planning to be sound and ready for any possibility/obstacle that might arise. This comes from years of experience and a reputation with the authorities, venue owners, major organizers, and our supply partners. In our planning stage, we make sure to understand all customs processes, requirements and specifics of the event – down to every bit of detail. This is all to make sure that when the cargo is in our hands, it will flow continuously without delay and without risks.”
5. From your experience, could you give some examples of challenging events for you and the steps you took to accomplish your goals?
“We have worked on many Olympic and FIFA World Cup events, both in an official and non-official capacity. The scale and scope of these projects mean we have to plan years in advance. Part of this process is to recruit and train a large workforce. This arduous task means we have to call on our core experienced team to be on the ground to oversee the entire operation. This can often mean they are away for over 2 years! However, when the games are in full force and the atmosphere is electric, the sense of achievement is unparalleled and well worth the long hours and commitment necessary to make a successful Games.”
6. With the rising amount of sport-related events in Asia, what do you see as the most popular and in-demand needs for event and sports logistics now and what do you foresee for future needs?
“In general, sports events are on the rise in APAC. We are seeing massive investment in soccer in China and with the next three Olympics to be held in Asia, for instance, Winter Olympics Pyeongchang 2018, Korea, Summer Olympics Tokyo 2020 Japan and Winter Olympics Beijing 2022 China. The investment is only likely to continue. As event logistics plays a major part in the success of any event, we expect to see massive growth in this area also.
Experience and knowledge in event logistics are still the major drivers of our business but certainly, digitalization will play a big part in the future which is why we are investing heavily in these areas to meet the expected demand.
Digitalization is also set to be a given demand from customers in the coming years. Thus, DB Schenker does not intend to be left behind in that area. Currently, we are investing heavily in this to meet the industry demand. As the trend line goes up, the customers will continue to ask for the value added in our services. I think this is where experience and knowledge play an important role.”