Lessons in event management from the Matterhorn Ultraks

On August 25th and 26th Glion students in the event management program worked as volunteers at the Matterhorn Ultraks event in Zermatt. They headed up to this famous mountain ski resort to lend a hand in the set-up and organization of the event, which attracted 2,400 participants this year. The Ultraks is a two-day trail running event with different races including a vertical race, kids race, and the 16, 32 and 46K marathons.

Students exercised a high level of self-discipline and commitment, getting up at 5am and finishing at 10pm as they worked on the set up, event operations and dismantling. More specifically, they set up the branding and banners, built tents, handed out the finisher t-shirts and medals, managed the bag drop, and set up the pasta party restaurant, managed the bunker hotel, and ran the trouble-shooting desk and traffic control.

This experience in a real-world event is a regular part of the event management degree program, and some students on the program participate in this event twice, once as a novice in their first year of the program, and then again in semester 6 or 7 when they have a higher level of experience and management skills.

To find out how it went and get some highlights of this event management experience, our student ambassadors caught up with two students, Ti and Kairat (Semester 7) to get their perspectives on the Matterhorn Ultraks Event.


What will you remember most about Matterhorn Event?

Kairat: It was a great opportunity to work outside of the Glion, to take part in a large-scale event organization.  In my opinion, I will remember most that we were part of something extracurricular.

Ti: It was a nice chance to hang out together during our last semester in Glion.


What was the most challenging part about the event?

Kairat: I think one of the biggest challenges was to deal with constant changes, which is a common thing in event industry. You have a plan for the event and you want to implement it, but you always have things that change with the flow of the event. Another thing is to deal with the amount of responsibilities, for example for ESE1 students, it was their first kind of a big experience and we needed to support them and be confident.

Ti: The work was challenging. Waking up at 4 am to go to work and being volunteers, the amount of responsibilities we had and just standing there and working, that was the hardest part for me.


If you compare your first participation in this event with this second time, what changed?

Ti: In my opinion, I think we’ve grown up, and we’re more confident because the first time we were in semester 2 and we were younger and we were scared of doing something wrong and making mistakes, and we were afraid to actually ask them “Can we have a job to do?”  We didn’t want to annoy them. However, this time we were confident in ourselves, and we asked them “Can we help you?” which means we had more responsibilities and that was the major difference.

Kairat: The first change is that this time we came in summer, for the mountain races, whereas last time it was in winter. Therefore, the structure of the event was a bit different. I would agree with Ti and add that this time we had more responsibilities and more serious tasks so we could show our management abilities and show how responsible we became.


As ESE student if you had a chance to change something about the event, what would it be?

Ti: Honestly, the communication of key information could have been improved because there were some people who knew what was going on and some people didn’t. Nevertheless, that was an opportunity for all of us to learn and realize how we can make an event better.

Kairat: I totally agree with Ti on that point, we had some changes in terms of communication and in terms of planning as well. I would also say that more people needed to know everything about the event, because when we were working, there were only three people who knew the details of how things were supposed to go, where items needed to be placed, how it should be represented, who does what etc. and that’s why we had a problem. However, I think it is a problem or issue in all events and it’s a thing you need to deal with otherwise you will not get your event right in every way.


A message to all Glion students:

Kairat: We really recommend you visit Zermatt even if you don’t want to attend the Matterhorn Ultracks event, just to visit the place.  In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland that I’ve seen in the past the three years. That’s the place I would really recommend you visit especially in winter. So get ahead, take your skis and come in December.

Ti: Having a group trip like that really brings you together with your class, and I think it was one of the positives for me. Not just a beautiful place like Zermatt, but the fact that we had a chance to spend time together and get to know each other, which was really cool

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