If you are going to take a chance on sponsoring some capacity from your product, may I suggest that you prioritise events and festivals. While they may take a few years to get going, well-executed events generate extreme loyalty.

Let me back up my assertion with an excellent case study from 2010, the year of the FIFA World Cup. The last 10 days of this awesome soccer event clashed directly with our Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival. There were many discussions amidst the fears that the awesome hype created around the soccer would decimate our event and alternative dates later in the year were suggested by many. It was one of those calls that had no guarantees whatsoever and the only instinct I found that I could rely on was good old gut feeling.

We went ahead with the event on its original dates with the World Cup and the town pulled off some minor miracles in creating enough capacity to run the festival and host two of the sides from the soccer. When it came to counting time, figures revealed that we had received 97% of the entries of the previous year. Airline logistics and costs had probably robbed us of exceeding the 100% mark.

Competitors and attendees are incredibly loyal to well thought-out and executed events and festivals. Our brains enjoy coming back to something that has thrilled and inspired us. This can become an integral part of an off-season campaign, showing returns relatively quickly. A good event also has the benefit of generating competitors, spectators and great publicity for the destination.

From a product point of view, it is well worth noting that most people who are approached by the organisers in the first year for rooms, seats and prizes, tend to say that they will watch the first year and consider getting involved in the second year. This has to be the most heartbreaking part of putting an event together and you can build huge loyalty with the organisers by putting your toe in the water in the first year and encouraging the organising team as they approach the first event.

Not sure if the event will work? Well, that’s business, but one little hint that might help will be to look at the depth of passion in the eyes of the organiser who is presenting to you.

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