How to Host a Travellers Meeting

A Short History

Susan and I started the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers meetings in May of 2001 while we were living in the UK, with a meeting held in our backyard in Slough. That first meeting had almost 40 people show up, and we were especially pleased that some came from as far away as Norway, and even another Canadian!

Fast forward 12 years! In 2012, we had travellers meetings in Australia, Ireland, Germany, England, Bulgaria, Greece, Argentina, Thailand, North Carolina and California, USA, and Ontario and British Columbia, Canada. Size ranges from 30-40 people for mini-meetings, up to 500+ for our largest meeting in the UK.

New meetings we hope to launch in 2013 include Brazil, Montenegro and Australia South. Volunteers to assist wanted!

Grant and Susan will get to as many as we can, as the concept spreads across the world!

So What is a Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting?

Horizons Unlimited motorcycle travellers meetings are not typical motorcycle rallies. They are geared to travellers who want to experience the whole world on their motorcycle, not just a small, familiar corner of it. No rock bands or beer bashes, just motorcycle travellers and would-be travellers getting together to share experiences and tips - what a concept!

Typical activities at a Horizons Unlimited meeting include:

  • Inspirational travellers stories and slide shows about overland motorcycle trips to places such as South America, Africa, Alaska, Russia or the Far East.
  • Informative seminars on "How to Go Around the World on a Motorcycle" by people who've done it.
  • Lots of time for sharing stories, technical tips, border crossing hints and much more.

What you won't find at a Horizons Unlimited meeting is a loud band or a wild party, that's not what it's about. Serious travellers and would-be travellers only, please. We may stay up 'til 2 am talking about where to go next though!

We think the most important thing about the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meetings is that it lets you meet people who don't think you're crazy for wanting to ride your bike to South America or Africa or across Asia, or even around the world! Admit it, all your 'normal' friends and most of your family fears for your sanity! So, this is your opportunity to meet the people who will encourage you in that craziness, and maybe you'll meet them again in Mongolia or Timbuktu!

Schedule of Events

The general plan is simple. People show up Friday or Saturday, get organized, hang out and tell some lies, have a beer, admire each other's bikes, eat at a reasonable hour, then three or four 30-45 minute slide shows and talks.

There is usually a rideout or two for Saturday, sometimes a "road" ride and a "backroads" ride. That's pretty much the extent of the planned activities. For 2004 we are going to have less emphasis on rides on Saturday, and invite vendors to come to the Meeting and show their wares. A great opportunity to see all the latest kit, and give the manufacturers some feedback from the folks who REALLY test the gear. Mostly we just want to let people meet other travellers, share stories, and for those people actively planning a trip, get some practical how-to tips.

What's required?

  • A venue which includes both group camping and other accommodation possibilities.
  • We don't believe in excluding travellers who don't want to camp, so get contact details for at least one B&B or hotel nearby.
  • You need a restaurant or hall nearby, or preferably on the grounds, with a large room which can host the food and slide shows, and not too far to drive afterwards. A restaurant is less hassle, and usually will not charge for the room since they are providing the meal. If you rent a hall, catering must be arranged. In the UK and in Australia, they found a pub with a campground attached, which was an ideal arrangement. Slide shows CAN be done at a campground, but power and light problems can be a pain. (It doesn't get dark early enough for the slide shows!) Also, weather may not cooperate for outdoor presentations.
  • Some speakers / presenters with slides of their trips to exotic locations. Depending on where you are, Grant and Susan may be available to do a show, and we have thousands of slides! Once the location and date is announced, travellers on the road will show up, and locals may also have some good stories to tell. The problem isn't usually getting someone to do a slide show, it's squeezing all the volunteers in!
  • The only other requirement is some nice roads in the area for riding during the day.

Getting started

  • Talk to us about locations, we're currently very interested in northeastern US or eastern Canada, Turkey, Africa and Japan, but are open to other possibilities.
  • If you have a suitable venue in mind, start with availability of the venue in order to set the date.
  • Check for dates of other motorcycle meetings / rallies which might conflict, and also for dates of other HU meetings.
  • Avoid long weekends, as campgrounds fill up quickly, and borders and ferries get backed up. Unlike ferries, for some reason borders don't offer preferential lanes to motorcycles.
  • Once you've settled on a date and venue, let us know and we can publicize it via e-mail to previous year's attendees, the monthly e-zine and the website itself, so you won't have to do much marketing, except to your friends.
  • We'll organize a web page with details of the meeting and an online registration form which sends an e-mail to yourself and us, so you know how many are coming to tell the restaurant and campground.
  • We also have a gorgeous poster which can be printed out and put up at the various local bike shops, and we can also send a notice to the local motorcycle magazines if you provide us with their addresses.

Planning the day

  • Be sure to start dinner and the slide shows early - plan on slide shows starting by 7:00 latest, as they will go on longer than you think, and start lots of conversations and discussions!
  • If you have lots of speakers, you can easily have a few of them on the Friday night. This has worked well in the larger meetings and is recommended for meetings with over about 50 people.
  • Although most people pay in advance, there will always be some payments on the day, for registrations and impulse purchases of t-shirts. So there is a need for someone to sit at the reception desk to ensure all the paperwork is dealt with, explain the proceedings, hand out decals and t-shirts and collect money. We are prepared to pay for help to have this done properly - perhaps a friend or partner of an attendee who doesn't want to see the presentations, or a local individual who just wants to earn a few bucks for the weekend.

Finances

Find out the cost for camping and at least a meal for Saturday night. We will jointly agree the prices for the various packages: meeting (camping and slide shows), the meal(s), t-shirts and Horizons Membership packages, which are then posted on the meeting page. T-shirts can be sourced locally (we supply the logo, etc.) or we can arrange production and shipping (with at least 2 months notice for overseas rallies). We have found that it is usually best to NOT include meals in the package - some travellers are on a tight budget and would rather cook something for themselves. Not including meals makes the HU "bill" smaller and more attractive.

Organizers get free entry, free t-shirts and their expenses paid. Presenters get free entry and free t-shirts.

Generally it's simpler for us to collect registration fees via the website and PayPal or cheques, and less hassle for the local organizer. For local expenses (e.g. deposit on venue, rental of portable toilets, rental of audio-video equipment for slide shows, etc.), either we can pay them by cheque or cash on the day, or the local organizer can pay (temporarily), then get paid back from proceeds. We cover all meeting costs so the organizer is not out of pocker, and profits on the meeting registrations are split between the organizers and HU on a mutually agreeable formula. We don't share the profits on t-shirts and membership fees ;-)

The organisers have a lot of fun, and get to meet a lot of people!

Page 2 - more details.

So, what's keeping you? You can help support your favorite website, and meet lots of fellow travellers. Contact us here and let's get started!

Cheers,
Grant and Susan

 



 
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