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Leveraging events for your business

Major events like festival seasons, holidays, international/national level tournaments, or exhibitions increase the activity level of an average consumer, which can be used as a golden opportunity to engage with a captive audience.

Events are powerful drivers of tourism, which is particularly valuable for rural destinations and small towns. Research by Tourism Australia revealed that three-quarters of event attendees would not have gone to a destination if not for an event. For 57% of first-time visitors to a region and 69% of repeat visitors, an event is the main reason for visiting.

In terms of a hyper niche event like the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience – Definitely a reason for visiting (MP).


According to a survey (US) conducted in April 2023, 46% of GenZers and 54% of Millennials! identified as avid fans of the Harry Potter movie franchise.

Each of the books has broken sales records, and the series has sold approximately 450 million copies worldwide – this is the equivalent of every person in Australia owning 20 copies each.


IMPACT

Creators, hosts, companies view their event as the ‘centre of the universe’.

But most event impacts are outcomes which treat the event in isolation, as the event is not integrated with the destination product or objectives.

By agreeing to host an event the initial desired outcome is to maximise the tourism and trade benefits for the destination.

It’s tough to quantify the exact economic impact of high-profile events. But the extra ‘foot’ traffic, buzz and visibility related to major events, festivals and conferences can often be a boon for small businesses.

It is possible for an event to have multiple impacts and so the measurement of the event’s impact needs to consider other elements.

LEGACY

MEGA-EVENTS CANNOT BE JUSTIFIED BY THEIR IMMEDIATE IMPACTS ALONE

What must be considered is the Event Legacy – the outcomes produced that can have lasting benefits. For major events such as an Olympics, this can refer to the physical assets that remain after the hosting of an event – like buildings and infrastructure.

Others are event outcomes that have their roots connected to the timing of the event itself and results that may endure into the future, well beyond the ‘gates closing’. 

Event legacy – doesn’t have to be HUGE… this is an opportunity that may not have existed previously, so take from it what you can.

What do you want to achieve?

You don’t have the responsibility for the success of the actual event – but you do have influence over the way you leverage the opportunity.

Customer acquisition, customer loyalty or straight monetisation. This should drive your decisions.

 

IT’S UP TO YOU TO DETERMINE WHAT YOU WANT FROM IT.

 

AWARENESS

That you exist – that you have something aligned with the event – theme – activity – season – action. Or by the by… that your business happens to be in the same destination…

VISITATION

People through the door on the days that the event – season – activity – is on.

VISITATION FROM AWARENESS

People through the door because they saw you were aligned with the theme of the event/activity… or discovered you existed while they were visiting then, but they couldn’t stop on that day, but were encouraged to come back?

CONTACTS

Don’t really want anyone right now – cos it’s kind of a busy time… but I wonder if I could get their details or digital footprint to target later?

SOME ODD LEFT CREATIVE TIPS

Seasonal Campaigns:

Sales, Discounts, and Product launches aligned with special holidays and seasonal, festive events can create a sense of urgency and excitement among potential customers.

Event-Specific Limited Editions:

Launching limited-edition products or services revolving around the same time as special events creates exclusivity and attraction points for your brand. It is an excellent approach to attract consumers to the unique offerings that may align the business to the event.

Flash Sales and Limited-Time Offers:

Create urgency with flash sales and limited-time offers to boost sales. Highlighting time-sensitive discounts or exclusive deals during these periods can encourage consumers to make quicker purchasing decisions.

Create themed Goods and Services:

Most people traveling for a big event want to immerse themselves in the excitement and return with personal keepsakes or gifts. This unique demand presents an opportunity for small business owners to get creative with trending themes.

Consider the Barbie hype – bakeries near cinemas created pink Barbie-themed pastries, and restaurants tapped into the economic power of Swifties by decorating in accordance with an “Era.”

While there is a level of copyright issues with some elements of major events, they don’t own the thematic of certain phrases, sayings and words – so open the thesaurus and try similar words.

Create Event-Specific Bundles:

Bundle products together that are relevant to the major event at a discounted rate during high demand influenced by the timing. This not only encourages upselling but also provides customers with added value, making the proposition more appealing and increasing the likelihood of a purchase.

Enhanced Customer Experience:

Offer additional perks to your customers in the form of special offers and services, personalised interactions, or value adds. This not only differentiates your brand but also creates a positive association that can lead to repeat business.

Showcase your Amenities / offering / product / service:

Knowing your audience and their needs allows for tailored marketing messages to attract them to specific events. For example, event goers who are out late are likely to appreciate 24-hour concierge services, late-checkout options, breakfast packages, and pool and sauna facilities.

Tailor your Services:

According to a recent study conducted by Google and Phocuswright, 36 percent of customers would pay more in return for receiving tailored information and experiences. Therefore, to ensure your guests have the best possible experience and to encourage repeat business, you could add small extras to complement the nature of the event they are attending and personalise the service. (see Barbie baked good above – or a themed cocktail…)

Another option is to promote discounted pre-show meals for event attendees.

Options for extended hours – if the event is a late evening activity, you can be the prequel or filler activity.

Simply promoting fast (and free) Wi-Fi, spaces to chill out with a coffee should help court those who want to spend time curating their albums and sharing their experiences.

Provide Directions …and transport services:

If you’re accommodation: make guests aware that by booking your hotel you will help them get to their desired location. If your hotel is within walking distance to the event, you could create a downloadable map with directions. If transportation is required, you could provide advice on the best taxi/bus/uber services in the area or the most convenient parking locations (if they are not parking at the event). Or you could even provide a free shuttle bus or charge a small additional fee for special event transportation services.

If you know that parking right at the event is going to be tricky… perhaps you know a secret side street they can use.

Things you could try:

  • Guest / Artist Show(s)
  • Art and Crafts Activities
  • Décor and Decorations
  • Costume /Fancy Dress Party/ Evenings/ Days
  • Themed Events
  • Movie Marathons
  • Read-A-Thon
  • Storytelling
  • Hands-On Classes
  • Themed Dining Experiences
  • Specialised Menus
  • Secret Menus

Don’t push to create something aligned if the event has no relevance to your business focus.

Yet, by the same playbook – what if the event is totally left of middle from what you do… you could try something that is completely different to normal operations…

Effective event leveraging is generally constrained by the short-term duration of events.

But the extended longevity of this special event opens opportunity – tap in or out when it’s best for you.

Promotional Opportunity – EXTENDED

  • The focus of events provides a chance to create great local-oriented content.
  • Great content is a powerful tool for small business SEO.
  • By utilising these opportunities, you can enhance your visibility.

Shout about the event

Make sure you are regularly sharing information about the event on your website and social media channels. Google automatically ranks relevant and informative content higher than descriptive, old content. So, shouting about these events is likely to enhance your SEO strategy and lead to more people associating the event with your business at the same time.

Turn visitors into evangelists

You can turn an influx of visitors into evangelists for your brand. Roll out the red carpet, ramp up targeted social media campaigns and launch special promotions that give out-of-towners a reason to consider you. Even if you’re not aiming to directly align with the event, build word-of-mouth and social media buzz among first-time customers through stellar customer service and memorable experiences.

You don’t have to host something to benefit.

Major events are a source of opportunity for Business Owners yet are rarely leveraged unless they’ve decided to be a sponsor.

These activities can be as simple as asking your customers whether they are going to the event then offering a deal or value add that includes your product/service that can benefit them.

Use the opportunity to mix up the tone and language of your marketing – consider the event target market and align your ‘speak’ with them.

Take advantage of the opportunity for experimentation

If nothing else, think of this as your “Super Bowl moment” – an opportunity to experiment with new strategies… campaigns and ideas… if not now, when.

High-visibility moments may not be the best time to trial new tools for the very first time, or abandon the tried-and-true. But, if you’ve been considering alternate marketing messaging, a bolder social media campaign or even a new product, test them out on visiting consumers and analyse the results.

INNOVATION IS NOT INVENTION

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel…

Innovation is simply change which adds value.

Sure, it involves a level of creativity, but it’s more about actioning ideas – can you make something magical about the way your product is delivered?

Even if the new initiative itself doesn’t achieve 100% of the desired outcome, you can dip your toes into the ‘noise’ surrounding the event and see what comes of it.


Meet our local expert

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What’s the Odd Left Creative difference when it comes to planning and business development? Kel’s not your average marketing professional.

With a diverse background spanning over 30 years and a passion for developing ideas, she has built her expertise in marketing, communications and planning across a wide range of industries.

Utilising captivating, engaging storytelling, matched with innovative thinking she offers a refreshing and dynamic approach to content creation and workshop facilitation.

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