Top Tips to Dominate Outdoor Events (Even in the Cold)
Our helpful things to know and consider when running an outdoor cold weather event.
Building meaningful one on one engagements with consumers is what experiential marketing is all about. Often those engagements are created in climate controlled indoor-environments, however outdoor events can be a great place to engage a targeted audience. With the outdoors comes many variables which are even further accentuated when cold weather hits. So, if you are running (or considering running) an outdoor cold-weather event, here are our top ten things to consider in preparing for all the elements:
1. Power Requirements
It’s going to be cold out there. Make sure to plan ahead by understanding if your experiential space is going to require heaters or any other power needs to keep the experience flowing smoothly. Remember – generators and other power sources tend to burn fuel faster in the cold weather, so make sure to have back-up gasoline for generators.
What products are you displaying? Are they designed to be exposed to the elements? Make sure to pre-plan for proper product covers and transportation methods appropriate for cold weather. Even if your booth display normally has a television as part of the set-up, consider the additional measures that need to be taken to ensure televisions (or other electronics) performs well in the cold and are usable post-event.
3. Data Collection
If your activation requires attendees to complete a registration process, keep in mind that most consumers will be wearing gloves or mittens. With that, the data capture process can be very cumbersome. Consider modifying and tailoring your strategy to keep this important event component running smoothly. Here are a few ways to potentially streamline the process:
Have brand ambassador enter information for the attendee
Provide hand warmers to the attendee while completing the registration
Reduce the number of fields required for that specific event
Use a non-digital data capture mechanism
Additionally, expect data collection devices (often tablets) to require additional attention in the cold weather as batteries drain more rapidly and tend to experience other difficulties. Have a warmed back-of-house area with additional devices charging to be prepared.
4. Premium / Giveaway Items
Everyone loves some good old event swag! But when the weather drops, no one wants to lug around large items. This is the perfect time to make your giveaway premiums weather/event appropriate, and try to make them useful items that will enhance the attendee experience. Consider giveaway items such as winter hats with logo embroidery or hand warmers with your logo on the packaging. If you already have inventory of other items, make sure to avoid providing anything too large which won’t fit in pockets, as that swag is likely to end up right in the trash can. When ordering event swag, additional lead time is always your friend. Come winter time, deliveries can be slowed in inclement weather, so aim to have shipments arrive earlier for peace of mind.
5. Engagement Time
At outdoor cold weather events, most attendees don’t want to wait in long lines or stand around. Tailor your engagements to be shorter and more impactful to keep attendees having fun while leaving with a positive impression of your brand. Try developing fun experiences, interactives and talking points that are quick and exciting, not an activity that is a significant time investment. To this point, post-event on-site surveys would not typically be recommended for experiences where cold weather is an issue. Consider an email post-event survey in order to track attendee perception and consideration.
6. Setup / Surface
Make sure to always receive clear information on your set-up procedures, location and surface type/current condition from the event owner/organizer. You have spent a lot of time and money on your activation, so don’t let a wet soggy ground, or other weather related setbacks affect your success. Know exactly where you will be setting-up and other considerations such as how far away electrical is, what direction consumers will be passing from and whether wind will be an issue. Pre-planning for cold weather events can save valuable time on-site by avoiding needing to make major adjustments.
During cold weather events, everything tends to move a little slower (load-in, setup, deliveries, etc.) Build in enough time and take these things into consideration when putting together your run-of-show.
As the cold weather months move in, the opportunity for snow and inclement conditions rise. Keep your eye on the weather reports, and always have some flexibility on the front and back of your trips to plan accordingly. In markets where snow is common, consider booking travel into market a full day in advance just to be safe…especially if it’s a very important event. Additionally, delivering an in-line budget is always a top priority, and a few flight changes and extra hotel nights can easily cut into your budget (or make you go over). When building your budget, account for the possibility of increased cost with travel and even with incremental event supplies, due to the weather.
9. Staff Clothing
A happy and comfortable staff is also an excited and engaged one. Prepare ahead of time by providing the staffing agency and/or brand ambassadors with exactly what the brand will prove and what the staff must bring. Though branded jackets can be expensive consider investing the money, as jackets will be the primary item that consumers will see when greeted. Ensure that hats, gloves, pants and footwear are all accounted for in the staff guidebook, while remembering that when staff provide their own clothing, the color palette and style will inevitably vary from brand ambassador to brand ambassador. When telling brand ambassadors to wear boots, try to be as specific as possible in any recommended colors or styles (within a reasonable ask). There are great branded apparel options these days, and a well-dressed and aligned team goes a long way.
10. Staff Attitude / Morale
Event success is dependent on many factors, but from a consumer-perspective, the excitement level and morale of your staff are incredibly important as they are faces of your brand. Keep your staff warm, happy and motivated to make sure the cold doesn’t affect their duties and take away from the overall experience. When hiring staff, if budget allows build in extra staff members to ensure extra breaks to get warm. Even if your normal policy is not to provide food and beverages to your staff, consider providing coffee, hot chocolate and water throughout the event to your staff to help keep morale up.