Amazing Race Sydney – is it past its used by date?

by | May 31, 2018 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Are you considering an Amazing Race around Sydney for your next team building activity? If so, you should definitely read the following blog to determine if this popular activity is right for your team.

The Amazing Race Sydney has been one of the most popular team activities in the harbour city for the past 10 years. So the question has to be asked… has it outlived its worth and are the benefits still applicable to ever changing teams?

The original race around a city has been around for decades, in the form of scavenger hunts, treasure hunts and corporate hijack activities favoured by companies for years.

The Amazing Race concept was adopted by team building and training companies worldwide within weeks of the TV show first appearing in America in 2001. It has grown exponentially in popularity since the early days of basic Pitstops and Detours, and the adaptation to a viable team building activity has seen an explosion in companies designing different versions of the races across the globe.

Between 2007 and 2012, the demand for corporate Amazing Races in Australia hit its peak, and the handful of team building companies in Australia were managing multiple races around the country each week. The Amazing Race Sydney was where the demand was at its highest, and in 2009 and 2010, XL Events designed and managed over 360 races in Sydney alone. The concept was new, the challenges were fun and interactive, and teams were challenged to think on their feet, problem solves and identify opportunities when they were presented. These were heady days in the team building Sydney industry, and the overall consensus was that the Amazing Race experience was such an engaging and interactive team activity, enjoyed by everybody.

Well, that might have been the consensus, however, the reality was quite different. Sure the finish line was at a pub or restaurant in most races, and teams were happy to reach the finish line for a beer or wine, but how appropriate were the races for everybody in the group. Individual capabilities, differing personality styles, fitness levels and age and cultural differences meant that the Amazing Race really needed to be tailored better to suit more individuals in each race in order to better cater the teams.

Having designed and managed more than 2100 Amazing Races around Australia, Asia, and New Zealand, we often ask ourselves “Has the bubble burst yet?”

If you are Sydney based, ask any person in your company, and in more than 50% of cases, they will have participated in The Amazing Race at some time over the past few years. Think about it… there are over 30 companies now running The Amazing Race Sydney, with any number of variations of the original concept. Some are brilliant, some are plain awful, but the point is the demand still seems to be there, and companies still keep doing Amazing Races for their annual team day.

group of people smiling

A lesson learned 

A recent Amazing Race we designed and managed in Perth was a great example of why a racing activity might not be the best option for your team. We were engaged by a large company to design a race that was generation appropriate, as well as not too physically demanding. The race was thoroughly tailored to be more collaborative, rather than solely competitive, and the distances were shortened considerably to suit the group’s requests. Challenges were adapted to the group, and anything deemed mildly offensive was removed from all race collateral.

The race brief was loaded with travel option tips and safety plans in case individuals needed to pull out or found it too difficult to continue.

The race went off without a hitch, with everyone enjoying a drink on the rooftop finish line in the CBD.  So it came a bit of a surprise to receive feedback that only 50% of participants enjoyed the experience of racing around the city. The majority thought the 3.8km distance was too much, and that the day was too hot (28 degrees).

We decided to look further into why, after all the pre-planning and changes to the race, what more needed to be done to improve the enjoyment for more employees participating, and we came up with some more things we could have done.

The following tips might help you decide if The Amazing Race, or any other location, ids right for your team.

1. Communication

Ensure you communicate your teams’ concerns and abilities with the person designing your race, and even more importantly, communicate the responses back to your team so they can make a decision whether the race is appropriate for them.

2. The concept of an Amazing Race is built on teams problem solving to get to the finish line

However, in the haste of competition, teams very often overlook safe and easier options that could make their experience both easier and more enjoyable. It’s important to better communicate these options to teams DURING the race to avoid low satisfaction levels post-race, and make it less strenuous for individuals on the day.

3. Focus on Collaboration more than Competition

As racing around the city is not for everyone, especially if its very competitive.

4. Make sure you carefully construct the teams to ensure everyone enjoys the experience.

Try to spread the bigger personalities evenly across the teams with the more introverted types. If management is participating, evenly distribute them across the teams, and the same goes for new hires and younger team members. One of the worse approaches is to put all the extroverts in the same team: this will lead to creative interpretation of the rule and challenges, shortcuts, lots of heated negotiations, and frustrations when detail is required at challenges!

5. Have public transport options for teams.

Make sure there is an opt-out option for individuals who feel they can’t continue in the race. This is the most important safety protocol in any Amazing Race Sydney, particularly with the amount of construction around the city.

6. Be aware that an Amazing Race is a LIVE EVENT

In that changes may need to be made mile race to avoid unplanned situations during the race. Traffic collisions, gas leaks, public demonstrations, and emergency situations etc can all be avoided by an experienced race provider, without teams even knowing about it.

Talk to your provider about your concerns and drill down into different scenarios to ensure The Amazing Race is right for your team!

If you are considering a Sydney Amazing Race for your team and need some advice, please call us.

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