“If you build it, they will come.”
Race director Jorge Carmona lives by this famous quote from the movie “Field of Dreams.” As the head of TnT Cycling, he plans a number of events each year where his focus is always the same: wowing his participants so they come back for more.
His signature event, the Spellbound Century, sells out every year and includes a breathtaking route past horse farms and historic towns, plus unique stops at local farmers markets along the way. His other main event, the Giro del Vino, introduces riders to local wineries, and last year, benefitted those affected by the opioid epidemic—an issue that’s hit his home state of New Jersey particularly hard.
We sat down with Carmona to talk more about his events, and how he continues to raise the bar.
Tell us more about your signature event, the Spellbound Century! What can participants expect?
The Spellbound Century is a fun cycling event that starts at a local brewery in Mount Holly, New Jersey, with planned stops at local farmers markets, where riders can make purchases that are then shipped to the start for them. At the end of their ride, there is also a big celebration with live entertainment, vendors, beer, pizza, Italian ice and more. Participants can always expect a well-organized event that exceeds their expectations. That is our goal!
What is it about event planning that you love most?
The thing I love most is finding that “wow” factor. For example, I organized another event in October call the Giro del Vino, which starts from a spectacular winery with a planned stop at a different winery. The temperatures were especially cold that day, so we treated all the riders to hot potatoes at the rest stop, and they loved it!
We love to hear success stories. What are some big wins you guys have had lately?
The Spellbound Century has sold out every year—months in advance—even though we continue to increase capacity. We are trending up again for this year, too. Using ACTIVE’s email platform has been a big help because it allows me to directly target all past participants and encourage them to sign up again.
That’s great! We know not everything is easy though. What challenges have you had to overcome?
The biggest challenge has probably been developing new marketing strategies to reach a wider audience to attract to our events. ACTIVE actually prepares reports where we can see responses to questions like, “How did you hear about this event?” and that’s helped me see what areas I need to focus on.
What would you say is the number one thing that drives your success?
The top thing that drives the success of my events is word-of-mouth recommendations from past participants. If you do a good job of providing a well-organized and fun event, we’ve found that participants will go back and tell their friends about it.
What tips would you give to fellow race directors?
The advice I would give all race directors is to never forget who the event is for! The event is for participants, so you need to always provide that “wow” factor for them. Remember, “If you build it, they will come.” Also, don’t be afraid to use your resources, like we’ve done with ACTIVE, to build up event participation. Go with the changes, evolve and be open to any suggestions.