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Events With Not Enough Marketing?

January 15, 2011 - Ernest Hohmeyer
I can’t believe I am writing this article. Being in business, I have always lamented that there was not enough events in the area, especially during the shoulder seasons. I still feel that way about the off peak times but last week at an Adk Arts Marketing meeting, we started to compile a list for 2011 and were amazed at the number of events planned in the Tri-lakes. There are too many to mention here but as we complied the sport related activities, music, art, outdoor events, museums, health & healing, culinary, literary, and historical and nature related events, I realized I did not have a thorough grasp of all the activities taking place.

From a “success” perspective you can categorize events into 3 different types based on their intended audience:

1. Events aimed at the Local Community. These events target the “locals” and can range from First Night to community functions at the libraries.

2. Regional Events. Besides community participation these events seek “day trippers”, normally about an hour away that will travel to the event, stay for the day and then return home. Examples may include music, culinary or literary events.

3. Visitor Driven Events. These events aim to be destination events that besides targeting locals and day trippers also require visitors to be successful. World Cup events in Lake Placid may be one such example.

In thinking about these events I realized that many of these events were volunteer community events with a small shoe-string marketing budget. This effort works well with those events that seek local participation such as First Night. Word of mouth, participation of local businesses and the support of the local media besides an amazing volunteer effort contribute to making that event a success in its attended aim.

Those other events that would like to attract participation from day trippers or the visitor market typically rely on community calendars ranging from radio to print resources and press releases with also a blossoming opportunity through social media outlets like Facebook. Typically though, without a large budget to attract the visitor market, many rely on having information “on the street” that the tourist receives when they are already here.

For those events that would like to grow or at least sustain themselves, there are several issues.

1. There are a lot of cool things going on with but not one central source of coordinated information that is organized by the type of event and readily available in one on-line source or widely distributed. Each of the chambers has one, local media including print and radio and a multitude of publications ranging from the groups themselves to special guides are available but there is not one complete source or a “master event calendar”. Most of these venues are more than happy to have you put on your activities but that requires time consuming multiple postings and knowledge of all calendar resources.

2. Many events due to their budgets may be limited in scope with an appeal to a narrowly defined audience. While one member of the visitor group may be interested, others may be looking for other experiences and not knowing that there are other events, may not come at all.

3. In certain times of the year, there seems to be similar events taking place throughout the Tri-lakes that on the one hand gives folks options and in some cases divides audience participation and limits their success.

4. As most events are on a shoe-string budget, there is little word getting out to tourists about all the wonderful events we have going on to influence their decision making process. For example, let’s say that a family in the metropolitan areas of Albany, Montreal or New York City agrees that hey, they are going on a mountain-nature experience. The Adirondacks are not their only choice, the can go to the Green Mountains in Vermont, the White Mountains in New Hampshire, Maine or even the Catskills. As they were deciding, could we further influence them by: A. Besides extolling our outdoor wonders, could we simplify the manner of letting them know of all of our events?

B. Our lodging community and tourism promotional agencies posting these events as part of our lodging packages?

If we could harp on the beauty of the Adirondacks with wide range of cool places to stay and then add an organized complete list of events, it may help to tip the scale.

What can we do? Here are 4 ideas, several which have been part of the discussion of the Adk Arts Marketing group:

1. Master Calendar. Is it possible to create for at least the Tri-lakes a master calendar that also shares the same IT platform? This master calendar would be under a uniform format so it was easy to reference and find basic information. It would also share the same technology platform with other community and visitor calendars so that it would require one input for it to be placed on other calendars or points of information such as the chambers, media, and municipal sites.

2. Packaging Individual Events. There are a whole slew of great individual events that if packaged together would appeal to families or groups seeking diverse experiences. For example could Saranac Lake target the Lake Placid Horseshow by combining events already taking place like the art and historical tours, health and wellness walks, music, literary activities and outdoor events into a 3-4 day “festival?” A “festival” may appear as more of an “event” and Saranac Lake as more of a “destination community”. While one event may have appealed to one member of the family, it may not to others thus leading to the decision not to drive over. If they get the idea that there are numerous activities for the entire family, it may change their mind.

3. “Event Expo” In the spring, create an “Event Expo” by bringing all the groups together that will be holding events in the summer and fall for an information gathering, networking and educational exchange. Perhaps this information could facilitate a “master calendar” and perhaps a “master event brochure” and how we may help to promote each other and to our perspective audiences.

4. Meet with Sen. Betty Little. Senator Little is now chair of the state’s tourism committee and was quoted in the ADE, of having several ideas related to coordinating local events and a group from the Tri-lakes should meet with her to exchange ideas.

We have a lot to offer, more than I realized before I became involved with the Adk Arts Marketing group. In today’s overloaded information age, we need to simplify and organize our marketing message. We use to have 15 seconds and 30 words to grab people’s attention. It is about half now and getting shorter by the day while the number of times by which you have to remind people what you are doing increasing dramatically. With I Love NY, regional and county tourism budgets being cut, more than ever we need to partner and maximize our individual business and community marketing efforts. With information technology there is a wonderful opportunity to view each other as marketing resources. Almost all of us are doing some type of marketing, have we harnessed this power together as effectively as we can?


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