Consumer nights are a great way to meet with your clients, suppliers, and other partners, put a face to your agency, and most importantly, reach out to new Globetrotters looking for exactly your kind of expertise.
They’re also a serious commitment, requiring time, planning, a certain amount of money, and a solid promotion strategy (and let’s be honest, if you’re an introvert, they’re also slightly terrifying). In addressing all of these issues, preparation is key. Your consumer night doesn’t have to be a big or fancy affair, but it does have to be well planned and tailored to achieve the outcomes you want.
Focusing and Targeting Your Event
The single biggest factor in making your consumer night a success will be properly defining it and targeting an appropriate audience to attend. Simply put, who is this for?
Is it for people who enjoy cruise vacations? Is it for train buffs? History buffs? Couples looking for a honeymoon (be it first, second, third, or fifteenth)? Families? Groups? Skiers? A particular ethnic or religious community? Is it tied to a specific event happening in destination? The more you focus your attention, the easier it is to find your attendees who feel like your event is for them, specifically.
Assuming they’re a part of the market you know pretty well, think about how to reach that community through various marketing channels. Keep a record of previous clients or subscribers to your mailing list who’ve expressed interest in what you’re showcasing and make sure they’re invited. If you have a prior relationship with a particular client or group and know what they want, include it in your event if you can.
Don’t forget to utilise social media. Assuming your agency is on Facebook, don’t forget to create a Facebook event. Send a personal reminder message to guests who’ve confirmed personally, and make additional posts on your Facebook event that will be of interest to your guests. This is a great way to keep the event on their minds without their feeling nagged. Consider paying for a Facebook ad to promote your event as well. This is another reason it’s vitally important to target your event. Facebook shows ads to users who’ve an interest in those topics in the past. It can be an extremely useful tool for reaching potential attendees, including ones who don’t yet know you exist.
Finding a Venue
Your venue is going to set the tone for your entire event, and possibly determine a lot of your budget, so finding one that’s appropriate to your event and audience is crucial. Here are some key questions to ask:
- How many people do you want to accommodate?
- How ‘formal’ or businesslike should the event feel?
- Do they offer catering?
- How about Wi-Fi? If you want your guests to be posting about the event on social media, you should make this as easy as possible.
- Can you get the space for free?
Don’t assume you have to hold a fancy event with all the corporate trimmings. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with hosting a consumer night at your agency, or even at your home if you have the space and can offer the right atmosphere. If you’re a small agency offering a personal style of service, this makes perfect sense. If you’re a bit larger, are co-presenting with a supplier partner, or are pitching to a more corporate style of client, you will probably want to invest in a larger space.
It’s also important to consider what the venue can offer. Do they offer a bar? Catering? If so, they probably won’t allow you to provide your own refreshments, so factor their services into the cost. If you are providing refreshments, consider the cost of that as well (factoring in your time and effort).
Getting On With the Show
The consumer night should feel as relaxed and welcoming as possible – for your guests. You of course, are running around ensuring everything goes to plan, all the while trying to put your guests at ease by making it look effortless. Again, preparation is everything, so have a clear, yet flexible plan in mind for your evening.
Are you giving a full presentation? Or is the event more of an informal reception with resources available about your product? If it’s the latter, you’ll need a clear strategy for engaging your guests. A short speech to thank everyone for coming and introduce them to the product is sometimes enough, but supplement this by making your guests feel individually engaged, like the event has been tailored to them. Engage, personalise, and follow-up on individual leads they might have given you in the past. Keep it casual, genuine, and free from ‘hard-sell.’ If you’re comfortable with public speaking, a wiz on PowerPoint, or think the evening would benefit from some visual aids, do the presentation. It all depends on your individual strengths, so know them and use them.
Also consider whether your event would benefit from co-presenting. If you’re showcasing a particular industry partner, it makes sense to have them there. Consider reaching out and building an event around a specific partner’s product. This allows you to split the cost, cross-promote, and offer a wider range of promotional material, incentives, and potential giveaways.
Also consider what your guests might do for your event in terms of social media. If they’re active on it, make your event visually appealing, adding some photogenic, Instagram-friendly details. Have a #Hashtag for the event, mention it in your presentation (or display it on your standby slide), and make it plainly visible on any promotional material. If guests are enjoying your event so much they feel compelled to share it on social media, that’s promotional gold.
Follow-up: Was My Event a Success?
You’ll want some measure of success for your event and follow-up is crucial. To do this, you need to be clear on what you wanted to get out of the event in the first place. If you wind up making some bookings on the spot, that’s great, but this isn’t the main point of a consumer night. The real value comes with establishing and deepening relationships with your clients and partners, establishing you as a trusted source for travel, and laying the foundation for future bookings.
Chances are, you’ve grown your mailing list through the night, so showcase the event in your next e-newsletter. This reinforces the event’s success (and by extension, yours) even for subscribers who didn’t make it. You can also gloss over any hitches – unless they make good stories, in which case use them for a nice, humanising, and potentially humorous touch.
Assuming you’ve collected contact details through the event, follow up with everyone, even if it’s a quick email to thank them for coming. Include important details like your website and contact information, and perhaps make part of your presentation available on your website. More importantly, make yourself available if they have any further questions.
Don’t slack off on the social media after your event either. Hopefully you’ve picked up some new followers, so have a strategy or even better, build up some content to share in the weeks immediately after your consumer night.