As Co-founder and President of Generic Events, Brennan Lindner manages a large list of endurance events that span the globe, reaching as far as Bali, Indonesia, where he organizes the annual Bali International Triathlon—known as the “Triathlon for the Soul”—now in its 12th year.
We recently spoke with Brennan to get the inside scoop on how he manages his world-wide race portfolio.
Tell us about starting Generic Events! Why did you choose to go into the event-planning industry?
I started putting on events after moving from Santa Barbara back to Los Angeles. There was a great weekly summer event in Santa Barbara called NiteMoves, where the local community came out to swim, run and enjoy music and a sunset on the American Riviera. It was a special event. When I moved back to L.A., I missed that experience, so I looked to recreate it, and Playa del Run was born.
That series kicked off our company and grew over time to span the coast from L.A. to San Diego. Our reputation grew and we added other events and clients to our portfolio.
What makes a Generic event stand out?
Two consistent aspects of our events are well-planned event logistics and curated graphic design. Too often over the years, T-shirts were designed by “friends” or pro bono. I don’t want a shirt, website or banner that looks like it was not well thought out. The same goes for race logistics, for both participants and the surrounding communities. Everything needs to be planned so the participant can enjoy the experience, rather than thinking of how to do something.
You have races all over the world, including as far as Bali. What’s it like planning events on an international scale?
Bali is a challenge unto itself. It’s become easier over the years as that market has matured, as has the professionalism of the staff and team. When we first started in 2006, there weren’t any fun runs or triathlons or Google maps and WhatsApp. We basically had to educate everyone on how to handle road closures, registration, etc. Over the years, though, Indonesia has become a huge running nation and the residents of Bali have embraced the event. It truly is a unique experience.
What’s helped make this international workload manageable for your team?
Having been with ACTIVE for many, many years, the simplicity of having one platform has been key. The addition of the new CRM tools and email has also made marketing more effective for us. Previously we had a separate CRM system and had to synchronize the systems, which is a headache. The reporting has also improved over the years and provides more robust information.
Tell us about a big challenge you’re currently facing.
The biggest challenge has really been handling increasing event costs, both in city fees and customer expectations, without raising entry fees. Municipalities and governing agencies all want a piece of a seemingly huge pie of revenue. So, it’s a constant balancing act of trying to keep an eye on costs without having to raise entry fees.
How do your other team members support your organization’s success?
Michelle (Lindner) is co-owner of the company and heads up our event marketing, branding and corporate partnerships, which means that she is the revenue generator for the company. Alida (Schat) is her right hand, working on strategy and implementation of all of our marketing efforts. Collectively we concept, market and execute the events along with a weekend production crew of 20-plus.
What tips would you give to race directors reading this?
Learn to ride the wave. There are so many unpredictable challenges as an event comes to fruition. I recommend trying to tackle as many unknowns as possible—or the big ones—so by the time event weekend comes, only the small unknowns pop up. They’re easier to address.
What’s one dream race or endurance event you would love to plan in the future?
One idea that I’ve had percolating for years is a Carnival Run, a la Mardi Gras, here in Venice, California, where we live. It’s a funky area of Los Angeles, with an abundance of creative people. I have a number of ideas that would be fun to parlay into a weekend takeover of the streets. Something that combines Kinetics—an old event in Boulder, Colorado—costumes and teamwork…. could be fun!