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How To Benefit From Major Events

Source: George Sharp, Executive Director – Olympia Lacey Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau

We are fortunate that we have many festivals and events that take place in Thurston County throughout the year. I am often asked how can a business benefit from them. Below I would like to share a few of my ideas and past experience as a restaurant and retail store owner.

First off you need to put yourself in the shoes of both the event organizer and of the event attendee. It is about the experience that is created both at the event as well as the experience you create at your business. See your business through the visitor’s eyes. Ask someone to secret shop your business and report what their experience is. Customer service in the number one item to focus on and is what will differentiate you from others. Define what customer service means to you and empower your staff to excel at it. Manage the customers experience from the first point of contact to the final thank you for the coming in and hope to see you again.

Secondly get to know all of our events and how they relate to your business and if they attract your target audience, not all events will be appropriate for your type of business. Contact event organizers for more information about their target audiences, sponsorship and involvement opportunities and creative ways for you to participate with them. Ask permission to have specials in the name of the event that can take place at your business. Consider doing a matching fund/friendraiser for the event at your business. Utilize your marketing and public relations efforts to support the event. Post information on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn and in your advertisements about your support of the event. Utilize your window space and display to promote the event and draw attention to your business.

Specific ideas I have use in the past: Held contests where entries were brought to my business, be sure to capture their email address so you can stay in contact with them; Balloons, flags, lights, neon to make my business stand out from others during event time; Children’s activities with coloring and a photo identification safety kit; bounce back coupon for a future date to come back and redeem it; reader board announcing event and specials; costume characters at the event and at place of business with your logo on them; put your merchandise on the sidewalk if allowed-bring your product to where the customers are and most importantly realize it is about creating awareness for your business and may not be about an immediate sale. Your attitude toward the event and your customers will determine your success.

Lastly, get and or stay involved with the community. I find that those who are involved and connected to the many organization benefit from the relationships they have built and knowledge gained about the many opportunities to promote themselves.

The Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau promotes all of Thurston County events through www.visitolympia.com, an Annual Visitors Guide and a public relations program sending press releases to media across the state and major national publications. The VCB is funded by the cities of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater, the Port of Olympia and through sponsorships and memberships. Membership benefits include being featured on the website, displaying brochures at the Visitor Information Center, being featured in the Consumer and Stakeholder Enewsletters, being part of Familiarization Tours and highlighted in the VCB public relations program. For more information and ideas how to promote yourself, contact George Sharp, 360-704-7544.

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