Solving the situation: Advice for event managers navigating travel strikes

Categories and tags:
Spring 2024

According to a survey led by the Office of National Statistics Around 1 in 10 people (11%) reported having their travel plans disrupted by rail strikes. Travel strikes can have a huge negative impact on attendees’ experiences; resulting in bad feedback and affecting long-term sales for event managers. This is also causing a decline in consumers buying tickets to their events in fear they will struggle logistically and not have reliable transport.  

Have travel strikes affected your events?

  • Yes (100%, 8 Votes)
  • No (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

Loading ... Loading ...

How to find out about relevant strikes

Network Rail publish industry and strike action ahead of time, at least two weeks in advance. This should be checked by event managers as well as how the majority of attendees will be travelling to their event. For example, events where parking can be an add-on to attendees’ original ticket price will provide an accurate number of the amount of people travelling to the event by car. This aids the preparation of parking facilities. The remainder of people who are not driving and do not live in walking distance to the event are likely to be taking public transport, therefore travel strikes will always be relevant. By harnessing this knowledge and in the event of major transport disruptions, managers can arrange appropriate alternatives such as coaches.  

Photo by Ono Kosuki

Everyone’s affected

Attendees travelling to and from events will be very cautious due to travel strikes causing disruptions and this ruining their experience. These strikes will limit the amount of transport provided to attendees, therefore making their experience less smooth.

An article published by The Reading Chronicle named ‘Reading Festival 2023: How to avoid the strikes’, stated that there were “Big Green Coaches” which had over 40 drop-off locations across England and Wales to ensure attendees could get home safely, create a smooth experience, and avoid the travel strikes at the same time. In the absence of these coaches, guests may have got stuck overnight, which would cause major safety issues in a large town such as Reading.

Industry perspectives

The live music and events sector was hit by the train strikes that occurred in June 2022. On June 21st, 10,000 employees of London Tube were scheduled to go on strike in addition to the over 50,000 workers who were scheduled to walk out. The events industry is already “very fragile” following the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, and Michael Kill of the Night Time Industries Association warned that the train strikes might have a “catastrophic” effect on it. “It just seems like there’s another barrier at every corner” he said. Off the back of Kill’s statement, there was a story published by The Guardian, stating that event managers are worried about attendees’ safety and frustrated about the strikes taking place whilst event businesses are trying to rebuild their industries after Covid-19. 

Another example of rail strikes directly impacting events was last year in August 2023, when Reading and Leeds festival were taking place. Around 20,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union were expected to walk out. One Rail Delivery spokesperson said, “There is no question the strikes called by the RMT and ASLEF leaderships are deliberately designed to target passengers who want to enjoy various sporting events and festivals during the bank holiday, and at the end of the summer holidays, disrupting their plans, hurting local economies and forcing more cars on to the road.”  

Take action! Tips and guidance

After reading these tips and guidance, we would love to hear your opinions in the comments section below! Let us know what has/hasn’t worked for you, or something that you’d like to implement. (Can be from our list or not!)

  • Choose venues where there is accessibility to a wide range of public transport for attendees.
  • Create a contingency travel plan for attendees to use in the event of strikes, this way they can still safely travel to and from your event. For example, organising coaches.
  • Consistently check the Network Rail website for updated travel strike information.
  • The organisation ‘Safe Events’ describe a “DIM-ICE Matrix” to aid the planning of safer events. This focusses on ‘design’, ‘information’ and ‘management’ considerations during the ‘ingress’, ‘circulation’ and ‘egress’ stages at an event. Use this or create your own version in order to consider various risks and plan solutions.
  • Ensure signs are physically high enough to be visible through crowds.


Laura says:

This blog was a very interesting read! Travel strikes have affected my events numerous times now, holding events in London. I will definitely be trying to put some of your tips in place.

Melissa says:

This blog is really interesting, I travelled to reading festival last year and used the green coach as I was so anxious with the travel strikes, this really helped me to enjoy my experience. If other events offered this I will definitely attend more.

s4111995 says:

Thank you for reading and commenting on our blog. It is so interesting to hear your experience with green coaches. Hopefully events will be more aware with the situation and try to mitigate the challenges, to enable better experience.

Iliana says:

This blog gave a good insight of how travel disruptions affects events. The tips and guidance section was useful to know what can be done in the future. In the past I have found, it is useful when the Venue communicates with the guests to make them aware of travel strikes and disruptions so they can plan their journey accordingly.

s4111995 says:

The communication between event managers and attendees is key. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog.

Ellis says:

This is a really interesting read. I have experienced travel strikes when going to events and I’m glad to see event managers are doing something about it.

Pippa says:

This is such a relevant topic at the moment and such an interesting read! It is so frustrating that attendees’ experiences are affected by strike action, especially given that strikes are ultimately out of an event manager’s control. These tips give a great overview of how to overcome the issue!

s4111995 says:

Thank you for reading and commenting on our blog. It is a shame event managers cannot change travel strikes but they can definitely attempt to improve the attendees experience.

Comments are closed.