Hashtag that! Planning an event with online exposure in mind

Hosting an event showcase or product launch is still one of the best ways to get people (aka potential customers) to experience your product first hand. By attending an event, people can touch, taste, see, do and explore your product in a way that no other type of promotion can.
Beyond inviting people who may actually purchase your product, a lot of event planners also invite along the media so that those who were not able to attend can get a glimpse of the product experience. Traditionally this was a writer from an industry publication (print) and the results and feedback would take a while to see the light of day. However, these days with content being pushed out to the world at the press of a button (literally), you can expose your event and your product to a much broader audience a lot faster!
We recently attended a venue showcase at The Tea Room QVB, hosted by the venue management team, Grand Pacific Group. What we loved about this event is that from the moment we received the invitation to when we walked in the door, we knew they were aiming for not only a good attendance on the night, but also had the online exposure of this event securely in mind. The concept, the guest list and the emphasis on social media was cleverly curated to ensure results.
We caught up with Hannah Evans, Corporate Business Development Manager at Grand Pacific Group, to find out more about how they approached their latest venue showcase with online exposure in mind. We also find out about the results…

1. What was the event theme and concept?  

Corporate event bookers are busy people and it is often hard to get them into the venue so we designed an event and built excitement along the way that made them REALLY want to come!
The ‘Old Sydney Markets’ theme brought to life the history of the building and gave us the opportunity to showcase our interactive food stations that are a trending concept that brings the food and chef to life in the event.
We not only invited guests to try lots of great food, but also experience a traditional market place. We had a flower stall where guests could make their own posies, traditional Morris dancers, roaming period actors and a mini farm with piglets.
We also invited Jenny Wong from See.Taste.Do to present a speech on the history of the Old Sydney Markets, which was a great way for guests to really engage with the venue and our theme.

2. Who made it onto the guest list?

Our guest list was made up of any recent lost business contacts, business on the books contacts and new corporate contacts we want to work with in the future. We wanted to invite them in for an evening whereby they could enjoy the event as a guests as opposed to being the planner behind the scenes.
We also had a strong media presence at the event to create some PR about the venue. We invited some traditional media, but also took the time to invite a selection of food and event bloggers who would then showcase our event to their many social media and online followers. 
Online content can reach a much larger audience and has a longer life cycle – i.e. clients can Google our venue and find lots of great information about the type of events we host.

3. How did you incorporate social media into the event? 

We decided on the hashtag #oldsydneyqvb ahead of the event. A day before the event we sent out an email to the guest list reminding them of the event details and saying how much we were looking forward to seeing them. We also announced that we would be hosting a competition on the night for the best image uploaded to Instagram and to use the hashtag #oldsydneyqvb to enter.
This meant guests arrived with the goal in mind and almost everyone had their camera phones out at the ready!

4. How did you encourage participation?

To encourage participation we had a large screen displaying a live feed of all the images being taken on the night. This was a great way to encourage guests to enter.
By having lots of image-rich attractions around the room – the styling, the entertainment, the food stations – it wasn’t hard for people to get involved.

5. The results?

We were really happy with this event. Our attendance was great with less than 10% no-shows.
We had 15 media contacts attend, with 4 blogs/ articles generated post-event.
We had around 80 images tagged on Instagram and reached a collective online audience of 28,000 Instagram users.
By the morning after the event we had generated $25K worth of enquiries and since then a further $30,000. 
We find hosting a showcase event where there is more than just a few nibbles and drinks helps us to engage with our potential buyers both on the night and in the future. 

8 Easy tips to expose your event online

1. Invite relevant bloggers and Instagramers to the event
2. Decide on a hashtag before the event that is unique, easy to remember and relevant
3. Promote your hashtag and social media accounts to guests before they arrive
4. Create signage promoting the hashtag at the event
5. Broadcast a live feed of the images or tweets on a large screen during the event
6. Create a competition for the best image or most retweeted tweet to encourage guests to participate
7. Interact with participants by re-gramming, re-tweeting and liking the posts about your event
8. Provide information and images to all media and blogger contacts after the event to encourage post-event promotion

The Tea Room QVB - Old Sydney Market Event

The Tea Room QVB - roving actors

The Tea Room QVB - Oyster station

The Tea Room QVB - Charcuterie & cheese station

The Tea Room QVB - excellent event catering

The Tea Room QVB - Flower station

The Tea Room QVB - piglets

The Tea Room QVB - Old Sydney Market Event
Catering: Inhouse (Grand Pacific Group)
Styling & Décor: Harbourside Decorators
Flowers: Best Buds
AV: Audio Visual Events
Want to see another of Grand Pacific Group’s awesome events check out: A Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

Image credit: All images provided by Artof2 Photography