Tourism departments play a critical role in promoting and attracting large meetings and events to their communities. Large events such as festivals, conventions, and sporting events bring significant economic benefits to a community, including increased tourism revenue, job creation, and increased visibility. However, attracting large events requires careful planning, strategic marketing, and collaboration with local stakeholders. In this article, we will explore how tourism departments can increase large events in their communities.
Look for On-Brand Event Opportunities.
The first place to start is within the existing interests of your locals. This involves understanding the types of meetings and events that would appeal to the local community and the broader region. For example, if the community has a strong cultural heritage, it may be wise to focus on cultural festivals or events that celebrate local traditions. If the community has a thriving sports scene, then sporting events could be a good fit. Outdoor-focused conventions and arts festivals are also great ways to attract more people to the things your community already enjoys.
Additionally, it is important to consider the demographics of the target audience. Are they primarily families with young children or retirees? Do they come from nearby cities or further afield? Understanding the target market allows tourism departments to tailor their marketing strategies and outreach efforts.
Finally, it’s always easier to get volunteers to help you host events when the subject matter is what they already do in their free time.
Establish your Size Limits.
Every destination has a finite amount of space. That seems like it doesn’t need to be said but we’ve all heard of events that attracted far more people than the venue could hold. Determine how much indoor and outdoor space you have, parking availability, shuttle services, adequate number of vendors (ticketing, food trucks), bathrooms, available volunteers, and so on.
A large event is one of the best ways to find out where flaws are in your community’s infrastructure and it’s best to find out what they are before the day of the event.
Collaborate with Local Stakeholders.
Collaboration with local stakeholders is crucial in attracting large meetings and events to a community. Tourism departments should work closely with local businesses, government officials, and community organizations to identify potential event opportunities and secure the necessary resources.
For example, local businesses may be willing to sponsor or host events, while government officials can provide support with permits and infrastructure. Community organizations such as chambers of commerce or tourism boards can also play a role in promoting events and attracting attendees.
Leverage Social Media.
Social media is a powerful tool for promoting events and reaching a wider audience. Tourism departments should leverage social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram to promote upcoming events and engage with potential attendees.
One effective strategy is to create a dedicated event page on social media, which can be used to share event updates, photos, and promotional materials. Tourism departments can also use social media to run targeted ads and reach specific demographics.
Invest in Digital Marketing.
In addition to social media, tourism departments should invest in digital marketing to promote events. This includes creating a dedicated event website, email marketing campaigns, and paid search advertising.
A well-designed event website can serve as a hub for event information and ticket sales. Email marketing campaigns can be used to keep attendees updated on event news and promotions. Paid search advertising can help increase visibility and drive traffic to the event website.
Offering incentives to event organizers can help attract large events to a community. This can include offering discounted or waived permit fees, providing access to local resources, or offering promotional support.
Incentives can be especially effective for attracting recurring events, as event organizers may be more willing to return to a community that offers support and resources. However, it is important to ensure that incentives are sustainable and do not place undue strain on local resources.
Create a Memorable Experience.
Creating a memorable experience is key to attracting and retaining attendees at large events. This involves careful planning and attention to detail, from the event programming to the amenities offered.
For example, offering unique food and beverage options can help set an event apart from others. Providing comfortable seating, shade, and other amenities can also enhance the attendee experience. Additionally, offering activities and entertainment outside of the main event can help keep attendees engaged and entertained.
Measuring the success of large meetings and events is important for understanding their impact on the local community and for identifying areas for improvement. Tourism departments should track key metrics such as attendance, economic impact, and media coverage.
Feedback from attendees and event organizers can also provide valuable insights into the success of an event. This feedback can be used to improve future events and enhance the attendee experience with each subsequent event.
With this strategy, you can increase the turnout and positive experiences, and develop some new annual signature events for your community.