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Can events boost traffic and sales?

Impulse shopping (shopping for fun) at the mall appears to have headed south as consumers become stand-offish in the current recession. But, shopping center operators around the country aren’t taking it lightly. They’re aggressively trying to bring it back with concepts we can adapt from these big guys for our dealerships.

Over the weekend, the Chicago Tribune reported malls are ramping up their special events and entertainment plans, all to turn around a decrease in traffic. “When business is good, shopping centers tend to pull back on their events,” says Nancy Walters, president of Very Special Events in San Diego. “When they need to draw more traffic, they start up again.”

Walters estimates an increase of 20 percent in mall events. Specifically, charity and community affairs are hot events to host because they allow the malls, facing tight marketing budgets, to provide the event space while the sponsoring organization covers the costs and does the work (promotion) through its loyal supporters.

The nation’s largest operator, Simon Property Group with 386 malls, has reportedly slated 11,000 events this year, ranging from Little League registrations to music festivals. In some cases, a large mall tenant sponsors the event. In others, suppliers to the mall and/or the tenants provide the necessary support. Events cover a broad spectrum, including skateboard demos and competitions, local bands, free-style bicycle motocross and sports demos of all kinds.

“We’re marketing our heads off to keep the place fresh and relevant,” Mike Jaffe, developer of the Arboretum of S. Barrington (Ill.), told the Tribune. His outdoor mall recently held its first progressive wine event with great success and plans another in June that will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Meanwhile another shopping center in Phoenix began a weekly showing of classic movies on the lawn to a reported 600-700 people per film. “We’re definitely getting more creative about how we’re getting people to our centers,” noted Traci Weber, senior vice president of marketing for the center.

Weber is right — getting more creative is now the name of the game. Holding events at our dealerships and marinas is more important than ever. For one thing, events will keep you close to existing customers and that’s critical. For another, any new faces drawn to your property may become customers, too.

Events don’t have to be expensive festivals. Aside from providing a “hook” for charity event(s), other ideas can range from fishing contests and cooking seminars to arts and crafts shows and kids game experiences.

Bottom line: As the big guys have shown us, events will generate traffic

Comments

4 comments on “Can events boost traffic and sales?

  1. terry wood

    Hi Norm, your right we are doing alot of grand openings such as west marine and lowe’s down here. Seeing some different traffic from those little showings that I don’t think we would have seen otherwise. Also doing things with sporting events

  2. John Arndt

    As the creator of the Summer Sailstice sailing holiday I couldn’t agree more. There are a number of reasons events are effective one being the ability of multiple participants sharing in the marketing. From boat shows, to regattas to the yacht club open house it helps create multiple incentives for people to attend and the for event producers the ability to focus combined promotional efforts. Summer Sailstice was created to help the sailing community promote one weekend dedicated to the celebration of sailing. It’s designed to leverage everyone’s common desire to see increased participation in sailing and provide a common theme to coordinate everyone’s marketing for the weekend of June 20/21, 2009.

    There are loads of good events out there though it’s often hard to start a new one. One of the goals of Summer Sailstice is to utilize its nine year history and make it easier for everyone to work together on producing a common event for the individual and collective success of sailing.

  3. JEFF E. SLEIGHT

    ONE OF THE THINGS I FOUND SUCCESSFUL IN MY TWENTY EIGHT YEARS WHEN I WAS WITH WEST MARINE WAS THE LOCAL SWAP MEET. IT GAVE YOUR CUSTOMERS A CHANCE TO UNLOAD STUFF THEY DIDN’T NEED AND FIND SOME BARGAINS TO BOOT. ALSO YOU MAY BE ABLE TO HAVE A SMALL FEE ON EACH TABLE WHICH CAN BE DONATED TO LOCAL SEA SCOUTS , JUNIOR BOATING PROGRAMS OR LOCAL PARKS AND RECREATION WHICH GIVES THE NEIGHBORHOOD SOMETHING BACK. IT ALSO GAVER NEW CUSTOMERS A CHANCE TO KNOW YOUR BUSINESS. MOST BOATING PAPERS WILL POST THESE EVENTS FOR FREE IF YOU APPROACH THEM CORRECTLY OR ADVERTISE WITH THEM. PRODUCT SEMINARS WHICH EDUCATE PEOPLE IN THE PROPER USE ,INSTALLATION OR REPAIR OF THEIR PURCHASES GAINS MUCH RESPECT ALSO.

  4. terry wood

    Norm diff. subject but what do you think about banks short selling, meaning we have alot of dealers going out of business and the bank will take 20 percent less to pay-off the floor plan on the boat. If you have a dealer carrying the same manufactuer it kills you. They can sell the boat for way under cost because the bank can recoop some of there money instead of nothing. once again the banks are killing this business., for us who are still strong and can make it through this economy downturn this really burns me up

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