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How to Host an Annual Model A Ford Texas Tour

By Charles Corry

Why Host a Model A Ford Tour? It is fun. You will meet a bunch of great folks. You will have a stronger, more active club. The Model A Ford hobby will be enhanced. Every one will be glad that they had a part in throwing a grand party. You will have something to tell the grand kids.

First Things First - How large will the tour be? A local club tour may be from 5 to 50 Model A cars. Joint club tours may have 20 to 100 cars and Regional tours can run up to 350 Model A’s or more. National Model A Ford summer tours usually range from 500 to 900 cars. Your location and the time of the year will be the two largest factors affecting the size of the tour. The number of people attending a tour can be calculated at the rate 2.35 people per vehicle (About 470 people will attend a 200 car tour). Most of this “how to host” information will be applicable to tours of this size and larger. The best way to estimate participation is to contact people who have been tour chairmen of events like you will be hosting. About ten percent of the people attending will decide to do so at the last minute even if extra charges are made by offering discounts for signing up promptly.

Advance planning should begin 3 months before a club tour, 6 months before a joint club tour, 2 to 3 years before a regional and 3 to 5 years before a national tour. The club should elect a tour chairman and or co-chairman, as soon as the decision is made to bid for a tour date on a national or regional meet. The tour chairman should recruit sub chairmen for each event and function on the tour and help them get enough help for their committee to do the job assigned. The chairman will also enlist club members to serve on the tour committee as his staff. These staff jobs are; Treasurer, Registrar, Publicists, Director of inside activities and Director of outside activities.

The Site for the tour should be large enough to accommodate the maximum attendance. Consider limiting the size of the Model A Ford tour to fit the size of a rural setting. Sufficiently large hotels often can not be found in lower traffic areas. Model A’s and heavy traffic do not mix well. Providing your guest with maps of back roads and scheduling drives during off peak times, and providing motorcycle escorts can often ease high traffic location problems.

Promote the tour with the convention and visitor’s bureau and chamber of commerce in all of the places that you are considering touring. They can provide you with hotel and catering information. Get the Mayor or Bureau President to introduce you to the Police Chief who can help you with security and traffic. Offer to show a Model A video at the chamber of commerce monthly meeting. Shows like “Autumn Trails at Winnsboro, Texas”, “Wheeling Your way the Wisconsin way” and “A Record Breaking Day” are good tools for educating people about our Model A Ford hobby. We are bringing a rolling museum of Automobile History to their town and the more they publicize it, the greater the enjoyment. Some visitor’s bureaus have money to attract conventions and they will give it to you if you ask. Make direct mailings to Model A club members. Club presidents should be contacted and urged to read a tour message at their club meetings. The national Model A magazines will run big stories with pictures about planning that is being done for large tours. Small advertisements for the tour can be placed in these magazines. Other magazines that cater to the old car hobby have coming event announcement sections that run free information about car tours. All of the Model A related web sites should be ask to include a link to your tour web page.

If you have volunteer club members who are computer savvy, consider setting up a tour web page to sell tour merchandise and promote the tour. Some of the registration function may be handled on the web. Computer programs are available to scan tickets and/or badges. Computers should be used to tally judging scores.

Competition can lower prices and improve services. Try to get two or more hotels and more than one town bidding to attract the Model A Ford tour. Hotels will give low room rates, complementary meeting rooms, food, additional outside security, parking, trailer parking, swap meet space, display room, free mailings, and many other perks like VIP rooms. Make a long list to draw up in a contract. Include an agreement that the facility will NOT be under construction during or 6 months before the tour.

Early Bird memberships may be sold on larger tours that are planned two or more years in advance. Early birds get special news letters (usually quarterly) that up-to-date information about the tour as it is being put together and also first chance to register for the tour and hotel rooms. The membership fee ($5-$10) will help pay your advertising and promotional expenses. The chairman of this job should be a “people person” who can travel to other tours and sell the memberships.

If you plan pre-tour events for everyone, then it is best to give them a distinctive name (other than “early bird”) to minimize confusion. There is an organization that will handle all details of a Model A hill climb completion before the tour. Garage tours, shopping trips, Bingo parties and other inexpensive actives make good pre-tour bonuses for early arrivers.

The Tour Agenda serves as a framework for planning the tour and may be changed up until the time you print it in the tour program. Major activities are penciled in first and then side trips and seminars are added. Schedule some time for visiting and tire kicking as these buffer periods are easier to cancel or expand if execution of the tour schedule becomes compressed or expanded. It is nice to repeat the same event at least twice if it conflicts with a major activity or is a popular subject.

Tour Committee Meetings are valuable for planning the tour, making job assignments, selling the membership on the importance of being pleasant and considerate host and performing a final check or dress rehearsal a week before the tour. Encourage all of your volunteers to attend as many tours as they can and observe how things are done. Contact the national club and/or your insurance carrier to make sure insurance coverage is in effect for the tour.

Budgets are very important for estimating your income and controlling expenses. A cash flow projection must also be made, to avoid borrowing to meet expenses before the registration money arrives. Plan to make last minute purchases as you see the money. Suppliers of goods and services that must be ordered in advance will often accept a deposit with balance to be paid when goods are delivered. For planning purposes, make three preliminary budgets based on low, medium and high attendance figures. Barring a natural or national disaster or very over-optimistic attendance projections, the tour will produce more revenue than the expenses are. Concentrate on having a good tour and don’t be overly concerned about going into the hole.

Funding for a Model A tour comes from seed money advanced by clubs, contributions made by suppliers, vendors, chamber of commerce and club members, advertising sold in tour programs, sale of tour merchandise, club money raising projects, raffles and auctions, early bird dues and registration fees. Seed money is returned to the donating club unless the tour goes into the hole. Some vendors donate parts which can be raffled off or used as door prizes. Dollar raffle tickets sold in quantity at a discount (13 for $10) will generate more money than higher priced tickets. Use two part tickets where customer can put his name, phone number and address on one and drop it into box or can that has the prize’s identity on it. If you have 26 nice raffle items, you can sell $20 in tickets to someone who wants a chance to win each. Advertise that raffle proceeds help fund the tour. For another $5 they can get 6 chances to improve his odds on the ones he really wants. Always recognize and thank donors at every opportunity.

Registration can be a requirement for making reservations at the host hotel. This lets you control the attendance count with more certainty and avoids over counts caused by people booking extra rooms for their friends who may not attend the tour. Small charges ($1 or $2) may be made for seminars to help you decide room size needed. Alphabetize the registration packets and have a volunteer pass them out for each 6 to 7 dozen packets. Have a numerical and alphabetical list of attendees on hand. It is a good idea to have goodie bags distributed from a separate room to reduce congestion. Scan tour badge and get bag. The two most important words on the tour badge are the attendee's first and last name and the type font can not be too large for eyes that can’t see a cotter pin without reading glasses. Put easy to identify logos on the badge for tour events that the wearer has paid to attend. This makes an excellent alternative to tour event tickets. If you have scanning capabilities, the computer can call the room or cell phone of missing people just before the banquet invocation. Computer scanned statistics are great for verifying the number of people you are paying the caterer to feed.

Goodie Bags filled with coupons, maps, snacks, pens, cozies, nail files and etc. are nice and welcome gifts for tour attendees. Members who collect these items should use the contact opportunity to sell advertising in the tour program or solicit cash and merchandise donations. Door prize items that are worth less than $50 are best awarded by posting the tour number that has been drawn on the information bulletin board with instruction telling where they can be picked up. More valuable door prizes deserve a little “drum roll” for the donors and may be given at a tour event like the welcome party.

The Tour Program lists the entire event and provides needed maps and directions. Letters from government officials and the tour chairman, welcoming the tour participants are found in the tour program. All deserved “thank you” messages are included in program. Advertising and courtesy messages sold will more than pay for printing cost. Photographs are worth a 1000 words. Small town news papers have printed Model A tour programs as a special edition supplement at no cost and even given money from additional advertising that the newspaper sold for the supplement. In addition to the program, a small pocket size schedule of events should be supplied.

Communication and clarification about upcoming tour activates should be done at every event. Give an update on activates completed and thank your people and supporters. It is vital that all hosts be on the same page and have cell phone numbers to verify that they are. All communication (including this one) should answer the 6 “W’s” - Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

Hospitality is more than just a room where you provide snacks and drinks to your guest as they sit and visit. It is looking for your guest who has a puzzled or lost look on their face and asking if you can help them. It is honking your ahooga horn and waving when you pass on the street. Hospitality is asking if your guest are enjoying themselves and apologizing for any problem they complain about, even if it is their own fault. Smile and remind them how difficult it is working with volunteers. Hospitality is every host's number one job. Some people come to a tour without knowing any one there. Introduce yourself to them and introduce them to someone else.

Themes work well for Model A Ford tours, especially if there is a tie-in with you local area. If you are in the city where the West began, then a western theme with cowboy hats, tin sheriff badges and bandanas is a natural. Any place is good for a Hawaiian theme since the Model A tour has never made it there, (although there was some plans once). The Georgetown Texas Lone Star A’s salute to the greatest generation of World War II was carried out with Military Vehicles Club display, 40’s music and even a fly over by a B-25 bomber.

Banquets and other meals are a favorite activity of Model Aers. Prepare a large table chart and allow diners to sign up for the table where they wish to sit. Arrange tables in same order with same number as on chart. Allow seating as they arrive. Twenty minutes is the maximum time that that your guest should wait for their meal to be served. Make sure you have a guarantee from the food cater that sufficient trained servers are present to do this. When serving cafeteria style, the same twenty minutes should apply. Three tables with a line down each side are six times as fast as a single file line. It often takes a half minute to go through a food line. This means only 40 people should be in each line. If you have only ordered 10% more meat entrées than you have sold, then some one should serve the entrees and any other item that you might run short of, if the diners serve it themselves. Drinks, salad and dessert should be in separate lines at a different location. After the invocation and announcements, instruct diners how they will go through line. Program participants go first. Call tables randomly by number to minimize wait in line time. Have the first table called get drinks and salad only and the next table goes to the food line. Pass out the plates from a single stack that has been counted by your representative and the cater. This single file line then divides into multiple lines. It is always good manners to let your guest be served first. If the food runs out make sure the club workers, who go hungry, wait until after the tour to let you know. You can then buy them a steak or a tube steak as the budget permits.

Entertainment is best when everyone can enjoy it, or it is directed toward your typical age and interest group. Humorous speakers, historian talking on the Model A era, and music groups doing songs that we have heard many times before are good choices. Elvis is best left at Graceland – we know he is dead because he hasn’t built a place at Branson, Arkansas. It is not entertaining to have a speaker system that is too loud and screeches and squawks. Don’t wait until you see the old timers turning up or off their hearing aids – check the P.A. system out before the event.

Repair Tent and a pick-up trailer are welcome additions to a tour for those who need them. It is a good place to have ice water and near-by rest room facilities. If you have a local parts vendor, the persons running the repair tent or garage should have the cell phone as well as their other numbers. Local storage for cars that can’t be fixed is a good courtesy. A place to wash cars free is a good idea.

Sight-Seeing Tours by Model A or bus to points of interest in your local area are a must for any tour. Buses should have two hosts to answer questions and point our things of interest. Model A side tours should have a host leader and back door as well as an additional host for every 20 or so cars.

Seminars that interest both sexes make a tour worth the money for many people. Visuals are a must. All of the little things that are going to be discussed should be digital photographed and displayed on a large screen projector. In 1992 the Dallas national tour had live video coverage of the seminar presentation displayed on large projection screens.

Car Games or Gymkhanas have better participation when held before an audience. Car games are good for filling the “dead space” that occurs when cars are arriving for lunch on the principal or grand tour. Have some shade and seating if possible so people can visit while viewing the games. Antique vehicle insurance carries do not cover old cars when they are used in a “timed event” or Gymkhana. Don’t do the prohibited Gymkhanas - do car games. Do not use a watch to time any of the driving part of the car game. You can use a stop watch to time the driver and/or passenger after (or before) the car is started. Have several club members run each game before hand to make sure it is not too difficult or too easy. Break ties with a flip of the coin. Have some games that don’t require a car.

Youth Activities are important because young people are the future of the Model A Ford hobby. Keep teenagers busy with pizza parties, swimming, games, charades, computer games and other activities. In separate room the younger children can play board games, group games like red-rover-come-over, musical chairs, 7 up, and other age activates suitable for their age. Resist any temptation to charge for any of these programs. The message that the tour is “youth friendly” is more important than money for the budget.

Hubley Racing events are great grandparent and grandchild activities. Kit-built Model A Ford model cars are raced down an incline track. Kids can beat adults in this competition. Set up the track near a high traffic area of the host hotel. Give awards for the winners. This is a good place to sell raffle tickets - especially if one of the prizes is a Hubley car or kit.

Era Fashions Shows and Judging competition are enjoyed by children, youth, men and women. Not every one however likes to do fashions. Keep in mind that a tour is like planning a meal or a musical concert. Not every one enjoys chicken or green salad just as everyone may not like Mozart or Elvis. Great chefs and concert masters provide variety so more people can have what they like. Tour committee chairman should do likewise. Eating is something that everyone does and most Model Aers love. Have a banquet where the era fashion show is the main event. Fashion Judging should take place before the show so that awards can be presented at the fashion banquet. Provide men and women dressing rooms, a contest waiting room and a room for the judging to take place. Give each contestant a scheduled time to be judged.

Car Judging is usually done by classes of cars. The usual classes are original Model A Fords, Modified cars, Drivers or Tour class, and Blue Ribbon cars that use the national clubs 500 point judging standards. If the car judging is held outdoors, a plan for bad weather is very important. Often a “people’s choice award” is given to the car that gets the most votes from tour attendees. Prizes may be given at the final banquet or at a special award ceremony.

The Grand Driving Tour should be the highlight of the event. No other events are to be scheduled during this time, except car game which may be conducted at various points en route or at the noon stop. One way driving time should be over two hours. Maps must be provided for all drivers and signs at least four inches by four inches (4" x 4") with arrows pointing the way at each turn are necessary. It is helpful to station a host to wave to the Model A’s from their Model A as the turns are made. A restroom stop with sufficient stalls must be provided within the first hour. Police or “rent cop” assistance is required at major traffic intersections. Have more than one trailer follow the last car to help any who break down. Provide some entertainment at lunch and begin serving as the cars arrive. Serve from a minimum of six lines if you are just handing them a box and drink. This is a good time to draw some raffle winners and sell more tickets so they can try to win the bigger items that are still available. Announce a departure place and time when someone will lead the remaining group back to the host hotel. Have a trailer follow them.

Awards given to the winners and runner ups of various events can cost a lot of money and strain the tour budget or they can be hand made by volunteers who attach a photograph and tour badge to a simple plaque. Recognition is important and the presentation process should not be rushed. Always give the names and club affiliation of the winners and show a picture that you have taken of them with their car, fashion, derby car, or playing the car game. Take a photo of participants receiving the award. All of this can best be done at an award ceremony held in the afternoon before the final banquet. The show cars can be driven through the presentation line so everyone knows who and which car won.

The Farewell Banquet is the icing on the cake for your tour. It is a time to tell everyone what a good time they had and briefly thank your workers and briefly recognize dignitaries by having them stand as a group, hold the applause until all are standing. Thank your donors, advertisers, contributors and sponsors. A repeating slide show of the tour happenings or a silent video during the meal is a nice touch. Draw raffle winners just before eating, after most have finished, and after a break before the entertainment starts. A break in the entertainment is a good idea. Model Aer like to visit and would rather listen to themselves than anyone else. Don’t run your banquet too long. A good quitting time is 9:00 PM. and 8:45 is better. If the room is available until a later time, tell everyone they can stay and visit until then.

Most of the guest will leave before the Good-by Breakfast but it gives, those who wish, a last sweet taste of your great Model A Ford tour. Keep it simple and enjoy the complements. If the tour ends or begins on Sunday, a non-denominational worship service will be welcomed by some guests.

Wrap-up Party for your workers should be held within a few days of the tour’s end so everyone can turn in their expenses and have a postmortem or debriefing on the tour. This is the time you praise and thank each one individually. Let everyone know that you will announce a time for either a fund raiser or a nicer party when the check book is ready to be closed.

Much of the information in this how-to guide is the opinion of the author. Other persons who may have different opinions or have additional information about How-to Host a Model A Ford Tour may submit their ideas to be included below.

Addendum by Others:

Speakers at dinner: Announce speakers two at a time. As the current speaker finishes his or her remarks, the next one should already be near the podium. Introduce that speaker and give notice to the next one. Much time is wasted waiting for a speaker to make his or her way from the audience to the podium.

Awards at dinner: Call out the names of all who are getting an award (or in groups by car judging, car games, etc.)  so that they can stand close to the podium. Much time is wasted waiting for people to to make their way to the front for their award, congratulations, handshake and photograph.


Created: July 5, 2008


Last updated: December 20, 2018

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