Event Organisers' Guide


The Leicester Hiking & Hostelling Group relies on its members for its full and diverse programme of events. We have many members in the Group all with different interests, income levels and amounts of spare time. Operating in this way allows us to address as many of their interests as possible, without asking any one person to give up too much of their own time.

Organising an event, particularly a weekend trip, may seem quite a daunting prospect if you haven't done it before (or even if you have!), so this guide has been produced to help you. Our Group is very relaxed and informal, so you won't find many rigid rules that you have to stick to. However, the Group has found that a few guidelines for organisers to follow can help to make our events more successful.

You may be thinking of several places that you would like visit, but feel a little nervous at the thought of organising an event on your own. Nowhere in these guidelines will you find anything that says that you have to organise an event all by yourself. There are many people in the Group who would be willing to answer any questions you may have or even jointly organise an event with you.

This Guide is intended to make the task of organising an event less daunting. If there's information that you can't find here, or that needs to be better explained, ask a member of the Committee. They should be able to answer your questions, and they'll also try to make future editions of this Guide more useful by filling in the gap.

Weekend Trips

Where do you want to go?

Is there part of the country which you know well and want to share your knowledge with the group? Is there somewhere that you've always wanted to visit, and want some friends to help you explore? Either scenario (and others in between) would be a good basis for a weekend.

The YHA Hostel Guide may be of some help to you. Each section of this handbook starts with a map of an area with all the hostels in that area marked. Under each hostel name is a brief description of the hostel as well as what activities can be found close by (if any).

Things to consider whilst deciding on a hostel:

Members' working hours vary greatly from person to person. The time it takes to get to your chosen destination may be the deciding factor for some people on whether they go with you or not. If you need to drive somewhere on the Saturday morning to begin your activity or walk, this reduces the amount of time you spend doing whatever you plan to do. Careful choice of hostel can make a significant difference to the overall enjoyment of your weekend.

There are some members who enjoy camping, whilst others prefer to sleep indoors. Some hostels allow tents to be erected in their grounds. If you want to organise a camping weekend, choose somewhere suitable for hostelling as well. You're then likely to attract many more members on your event.

If the hostel is close by, in the Peak District for example, you may wish to consider driving up on the Saturday morning and staying only one night. This will make the weekend much cheaper, though obviously you'll have less time to spend. Some people might prefer to go on Friday night anyway, which will make transport arrangements more complicated!

What do you want to do?

Whilst most Group weekends involve at least some walking, it doesn't have to be that way. Activities such as cycling and pony trekking have formed the basis for successful trips in the past, as have short "city breaks". If you are planning non-walking activities you should consider:

If you are planning a different activity to walking, it is always best to get a good idea of definite interest before you book your weekend.

You are not expected to organise more than one activity each day. If members join you but wish to do something different, they should sort themselves out. Since there is such a wide range of abilities amongst our members it is quite likely that not everyone will do the same thing. You are not expected to arrange different walks for everyone.

When do you want to go?

Firstly ask around; see if there is the interest for your idea with other Group members.

If you feel there is sufficient interest, ask the Programme Secretary for some provisional dates. Please, be flexible and try not to insist on one specific weekend. The Group likes to produce a very full programme and events can clash. You could find your event does not get the support you expect if you put it too close to others on the Programme.

Next, telephone the hostel (or hostel booking service) to make a provisional booking on one of the dates you've been given. A typical trip will require about 12 beds per night at a hostel. If your chosen hostel is full, please try another in the same area. Do not just change your date without consulting the Event Coordinator, you may ruin someone else's arrangements.

When you make your telephone booking, ask what deposit the hostel needs then contact the Group Treasurer. S/he knows what the group can afford. If it is reasonable s/he will give you a group cheque to pay the deposit. Send this with written confirmation of your provisional booking to the hostel (or booking service).

Note: As you are making a booking for a YHA affiliated Local Group you do not need to use a "group booking form". Neither are you obliged to book hostel meals in order to reserve beds, except at certain "bed and breakfast style" city hostels, where breakfast is included in the overnight price.

How much will it cost?

The "advanced payment" that you charge people to come on your event should cover overnight costs, the Group's nightly admin charge, petrol costs and any other charges. Aim to over-estimate this amount slightly, as it's easier to find people after the event to give them refunds than it is to collect extra payments! The Treasurer will be able to advise you on the proper amount to charge.

Who's coming?

You are responsible for publicising your event and persuading people to come on it, don't just rely on the Programme and Web Site to publicise your event, you have to be seen to be doing something!

Your first priority is to put your event in the Group programme and on the web site. At the back of this guide is an "Event Sheet" indicating the information to be passed on to the Event Coordinator. This will become the basis of your entry in the programme, on the web site, the newsletter and in group publicity material. If the details of the event change, be sure to inform the Event Coordinator so that s/he can amend these materials accordingly.

It is a good idea to send a sheet of paper around members on Wednesday evenings. Most members attend our Wednesday meetings to make their advanced payments before the deadline advertised in the programme.

An A4 sheet of paper to fill in, with the following headings plus, a brief outline of what you intend to do at the hostel works well. Members interested in your event will sign up. You have to make sure that people going on your weekend know what to expect, so that they will take enough food and clothes. Some members may not want their address and telephone number made available to everyone in the Group, please respect this.

A typical sign-up sheet

You need to know how many drivers you have to arrange your transport. This is explained later.

It is important that you collect the advanced payments for your own weekend. This will ensure that you know exactly who is going and how many beds you need to finally book. If payments are handed direct to the Treasurer, you may not be aware of them. It is possible that someone could travel to the hostel and not have anywhere to sleep. When you think you have collected all of the payments for that particular Wednesday evening, hand them all to the treasurer or his/her deputy for banking. Keep your own records safe; a receipt book can be useful.

The hostel should have told you when they require the final balance. When this date is close, ask the Treasurer for a further Group cheque to complete your booking. If any members wish to be included after this deadline you can ask them to book themselves into the hostel – providing there is room in a car.

The only ones definitely going on your weekend are those who have made their advanced payment.

How to get there?

Travelling by car is the most popular choice, since it is the most flexible and when organised properly, the most economical. There are certain concessions available to drivers, for example the refunding of their petrol costs and help with other travel costs.

There is nothing to stop you organising a weekend using public transport but the extra cost is your main drawback.

Car Organising:

You will need to know where your drivers live and the earliest they can leave.

You will need to know where your passengers live and the earliest they can be collected.

You will need to know what types of cars your drivers have. In order to allow room for bags and still have a safe, comfortable journey, only have 3 people in small cars and 4 people in larger ones.

You must try to fill cars. If you have several half-empty cars, the cost of your weekend will increase.

You will probably have a car and 2 or 3 people that will leave early. Most will probably leave about 6:00 p.m. with one car left to pick up the rest.

If a driver cannot fit into your plans, they can travel independently. This means they pay for their own petrol.

Check that all your drivers are leaving early enough to arrive at the Hostel before 10:30 p.m. If a car is likely to arrive after this time please inform the Warden and try to wait up for it to arrive.

Make sure your drivers have the telephone number of the Hostel, it can be useful to swap mobile phone numbers too.

When you get there:

You sign in at the hostel on arrival. The Warden should ask everyone to produce a valid YHA (IYHF) Membership Card. Those who are not members must join. The Treasurer will pay any outstanding balance to the Warden or will have given you a group cheque to pay.

During the evening ensure everyone knows what time you want to start the next morning. If they know, then it is up to each person to be ready on time.

Our Newsletter Editor would like to know about your weekend. If you do not want to write about what went on, please ask another member of your party to do this. It is better if you sort this out on the first night, or even before. Don't leave it until after the weekend.

What the Treasurer Needs to Know

So that everyone, including the Group, gets the best deal from your event. The Treasurer can do the final calculations for you. To do this s/he needs to agree with you on a few points:

After your weekend the drivers should phone with their travel costs, not just a mileage please, to the Treasurer (or yourself). The Treasurer needs to know these by the Monday or Tuesday evening, after your event, not at the Wednesday meeting. Leaving things until Wednesday may delay the calculations and your drivers receiving their petrol money.

Drivers can also be partially refunded for their car parking or bridge toll fees, etc. if they form an essential part of your weekend. For example when everyone used the same car park for a planned walk.

If you incurred costs in organising the event, postage and telephone say, you can reclaim these also (if you wish).

When they are complete, the Treasurer will ask you to check his/her figures. If you choose to do your own calculations, please hand them to the Treasurer as soon as possible after your event. S/he will check them over and make any corrections. Then, s/he will make out all relevant refund cheques from the Group Account.

Your assistance with distributing refund cheques would be greatly appreciated.

Weeked Timescale

This is an approximate timetable for organising a typical weekend...

3+ Months before   Determine date and book hostel
6 weeks before   Begin collecting names and money
4 weeks before   Send final numbers and cheque to hostel
1 week before   Assign passengers to drivers
On the Weekend   Enjoy yourself!
Immediately after   Pass petrol figures to the Treasurer
Soon after   Send a write-up to the Editor

Day Events

Whilst weekends away form the main part of the Group's activities, day events are important too. Local walks and cycle rides are obvious candidates for day events, but visits to local attractions and events make good ones too. If you don't feel ready to organise a weekend, why not try a day event instead?

When do you want to do it?

As with weekends, the Event Coordinator should be consulted to find a suitable date for your event. You should be prepared to be flexible, so that your event can be fitted in with the other events in the programme. Details of the event should be given to the Programme Secretary to appear in Group publicity material.

Who's going and how?

Again, the best approach is to circulate a list for people to sign up on. Be aware that many people may not decide to attend your event till the last minute - make sure any "possibles" know how to contact you if they decide (not) to come.

If the event is local (i.e. in Leicestershire or Rutland), you are not generally expected to organise transport - though it will be helpful to non-drivers if you can point them towards drivers who are going. Trips further afield will require more formal allocation of drivers and lifts. In either case, collection of petrol money and other expenses is for individual drivers to work out with their passengers.

Is there a charge?

The Group does not charge members any money for attending Day Events, so unless there are other charges to reclaim, such as admission tickets, day events are usually free. As noted above, drivers should arrange with their passengers how to distribute any expenses.

Social Events

Whilst the Group is primarily focussed on walking and other outdoor activities, social events play an important part in our programme as well. Meals, concerts, plays and films have all proved to be popular with group members in the past.

When do you want to do it?

Once again, the Event Coordinator can help you to determine a date for your event. Friday and Saturday nights are popular choices, though you will need to make sure that you are not clashing with other events. Tickets are sometimes cheaper mid-week, which can be an important consideration.

Sometimes social events are arranged at short notice – a show or a film comes to town and you decide to go. It's still worth mentioning it ti the Event Coordinator as (s)he can publicise it on the web site.

Who's coming?

As always, it's a good idea to pass a sheet around for people to sign up, and pay for tickets in advance, if appropriate. You may want to do a little informal canvassing beforehand to pick the most convenient date, ticket price, etc.

How to Pay?

The group maintains a separate account to cover social events. You should consult with the Social Treasurer to determine a mutually convenient way to pay any up-front charges. For events where seats are not numbered, it may be easier to ask people to buy their own tickets and rendezvous on the night, rather than collecting money yourself.

However the finances are organised, the group charges a surcharge of 20p a head on social events. You will need to collect this - on the night or in advance - and pass it on to the Social Treasurer.