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Wacky racers: why TV show Race Across The World is an event planner’s dream

Race Across The World, the year’s surprise TV hit so far, came to a conclusion on BBC2 on Sunday night. (If you’re yet to catch up don’t worry, no spoilers here!)

The show saw five teams of two battling to be the first to make it from London to Singapore – all for the price of a plane ticket, but without travelling by air. Oh, and without smartphones or credit cards. Bit of a convoluted concept, but the results have been spectacular – a kind of cross between a Top Gear challenge, The Apprentice and Hunted.

Each week saw the teams race to be the first to reach a hotel checkpoint, usually thousands of miles away, and sign the vistor’s book. And while this inevitably led to a lot of sitting about on trains, buses and boats for long periods, the contestants also took the time to make sure they had some memorable experiences too. Elephants in Cambodia, goat polo in Kazakhstan, flower-selling in China – it’s been fascinating to see parts of the world I’ve never dreamed of, all from the comfort of my own home, for the last six Sundays.

Contestants Shameema and Natalie

Contestants Shameema and Natalie

However, it did occur to me that the programme rather lends itself to our industry. After all, what is travelling to visit six luxury hotels if not a long, convoluted fam trip?

It did occur to me that an event planner would clean up on the programme, after all, travel nightmares, logistical problems, long hours, unexpected situations – that’s what you guys do day in day out.

Also, I fully expect to see suppliers start offering Race Across The World-style team building experiences in the next few months. Maybe not across the world, but surely a Race Across The City is do-able, a few hours to make it from one side of town to the other on a limited budget with various venues as checkpoints. And of course you have to film it, to give them their own video memento of the day. (As long as no one starts monologue-ing to camera about their son every 30 seconds, sorry Darron.)

In case you haven’t seen it, the entire series is up on the BBC iPlayer now. And for the inevitable series two, I really hope to see one or two of you eventprofs on a team – you can’t lose!