My part-time job at the Rugby World Cup 2019
As the men's rugby tournament, Rugby World Cup 2019 was one of the biggest events in Japan in 2019.
Last October (2019), I took part in the Rugby World Cup held in Oita prefecture as a part-time staff. Compared to coming as an audience, working as an event staff gave me such a great opportunity to learn about how to organize a big event in Japan (though I was merely a logistics staff running around to support others).
After a few days observing how the Japanese people work, here are some precious lessons I have drawn from this special experience.
1. Admirable things
- The Japanese people take great care of comfortability and satisfaction of customers
Free shuttle buses within the city and between neighbouring cities were carefully organized with the assistance and support of the Japanese staffs and international students along with instruction boards placed everywhere in Oita. Plus, colourful signs and direction boards helped those who came to Japan for the first time to information desks or ticket counters without uncertainties and difficulties due to language barriers.
- Lavish hospitality of the Japanese people
As usual, the hospitality, friendliness and professional working style of the Japanese people never disappoint me and all visitors. We always feel welcome and delighted when in Japan. Along the way to the stadiums, the staffs hung banners and carried slogan signs to provide direction, make some friendly conversation or invite them to take a picture no matter there are differences in languages.
3-4 large whiteboards were set up to stick up drawings done by elementary students in the train stations in Beppu city. They drew national flags or signature things of countries where the contestants came from with innocent wishes noted. Just only looking at these adorable pictures warmed up my heart and above all, I truly admired the hospitality of the Japanese people.
- Neatness and cleanness are always appreciated and focused
We all know that Japan is renowned for taking great care of hygiene but the preparation stage for the stadiums to make sure they are ready for the games really amaze me.
All matches were tightly scheduled to take place on the weekends so the cleaning staffs always stayed till the end of each game, cleaned up the stadium and stadium stands for the next match. No matter how much were the rubbish, food waste, dirt from beer and soft drinks spilt on the ground or seats on the last day, all were removed, cleared up and ready for the next matches on the next day.
2. Need improvements
- Planning and arrangement (staff, F&B, etc.) were not fully prepared
Honestly speaking, there were a few shortcomings in F&B service for such the big occasion which should be much improved for the upcoming events especially Olympic 2020.
For example, they had a problem with staff allocation. Where a staff should have been to do the job or which tasks he/she had been assigned to were not clearly stated (all the food stalls in the event were managed and controlled by one company). For that reason, staff shortage or disorder when being overcrowded was unavoidable.
It was difficult to control and maintain the quality of foods sold in the stadium (Those who are living in Japan would know how strict the procedure is in food services to ensure there is no harm to customer's health). Lack of food warming equipment or time on food preparation which resulted in food shortage (though a large amount of food had been prepared in advance).
- English as a language barrier
The number of foreigners gathered in Oita prefecture was higher than domestic visitors since there was no match of the Japanese team here. In a few days of work and observation, I realized there was a limit in the communication of local people in big events. Except for 1 or 2 basic sentences about the number of items the customers wanted to buy, I noticed that the Japanese staffs encountered a major difficulty in communication due to the lack of practice in conversational English.
For instance, some questions about food ingredients from the customers (to avoid food allergy) somehow puzzled the staffs or when foods were all sold out, they were confused to find the words to inform to the customers (However, they tried their best to use non-verbal communication as hand gestures in the very adorable and enthusiastic way).
- Should pay more attention to staff selection and assignment
The staff selection (part-time staff for the food service) was partly neglected to such a big event. The process took a little time to submit the application form with personal information along with my available time then go through a very simple interview. Japanese proficiency was only required for some positions.
All the things above are my personal experiences and lessons learned from participating in the Rugby World Cup 2019. It is never easy to organize or host an event since it involves a group of teams working together which requires overall control and professional management. No matter it is a large or small event, there will be unavoidable issues occurred.
Oita is neither a big city nor an experienced event host so it is relatively understandable when this event was not as well organized as Rugby World Cup held in Tokyo. Therefore I believe that Japan in general and Oita in particular will perform better in the future thanks to those experiences. Finally, I want to say thank you to Rugby for all the unforgettable memories and precious experiences about event management I have learned from the event.
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