The Grandest of Departs - Does Your Business Make The Most Of Major Events?

Joel Beverley

Aug 2014 ⋅ 3 min read

Following the hugely successful Tour de France Grand Depart, Yorkshire has seen economic benefits of over £100m to the region. The event brought 2 million visitors to the county and as a result local businesses flourished over the three day event. Similarly, back in 2012 the Olympics injected a massive £9.9bn into the UK economy, with just under 600,000 overseas visitors alone coming to London specifically for the Games.

More recently, in Glasgow the Commonwealth Games have just come to an end. Already widely regarded as a triumph, the event provided a hefty £24m boost to the Scottish economy, with hotels and restaurants in the city having "some of their busiest days on record" according to a recent report by the tourism body VisitScotland.

These major events clearly drastically increase the number of potential customers for local businesses. Here's how you can you capitalise on events such as these and reap the financial rewards...

Get involved early

These events are a great opportunity for local businesses - but they don't come along very often. They may benefit the region long term, bringing more tourists to the area in the future, but if you want to take full advantage of the potential benefits then be prepared to get involved early.

The event may be three hours, three days or three weeks long, but there will always be some buzz and build up which you and your business can tap into in the weeks leading up to the big event.

Embrace the atmosphere

Get into the spirit of the event, embrace the atmosphere it creates and express your enthusiasm to the public.

Adopt a theme in your establishment, create window displays and wall decor that reflects your businesses passion for the event. For example, during the Olympics, local cafes would put flags on the walls and maps showing the route of the Torch.

Even encourage staff to dress up according to the event. For example, during the Grand Depart, one restaurant had employees wearing the different cycle jerseys.

If your business taps in to the public's mindset and demonstrates a passion for the event then it will attract the footfall of both local customers and tourists. Additionally, particularly enthusiastic businesses will gain the chance to grab some free media coverage during the event.

Create offers related to the event

Now that your establishment is kitted out, make sure your menu or products reflect your passion for the event as well.

Create specific meal and drink ideas and offers that are related to the event.  For example, during the Grand Depart one local cafe was offering a croquet monsieur and an espresso for £6.99.

Also, buy stock that is related to the event, such as themed clothing or flags.

Offer discounts and deals specifically related to the event as well. Dress up your current menu/products but label them under names associated with the event. Have a 20% World Cup sale, or an Olympics set menu.

Promote on social media

If your business is not already on Facebook or Twitter then it should be! When it comes to large events, the hype and hysteria both up to and during these occasions is often at its peak in the social media world.

Use your business' name and tweet and post about the events and their build up. Take photos of your establishment and staff getting in to the spirit of things.

By demonstrating your passion and enthusiasm for the event you will help build your online audience. With the use of hashtags and post shares you can maximise reach.

Once you have an established audience you can then start promoting your themed discounts and offers and turn those pages, Likes and followers into paying customers.

Events like the Commonwealth Games or The Grand Depart happen rarely, but when they do, they capture the mind and spirit of the general public and provide business opportunities which must be seized. Tourism levels for the area increase, local interest swells and public spending in the hospitality and retail sector booms.

Of course, the size of the opportunity does depend on the locality and scale of the event. Hosting the Olympics in 2012 was monumental for the UK, providing a major economic boost for the country. Rio 2016 will not be as beneficial for obvious reasons, yet it will still generate enough public interest to be worthwhile embracing as a small business, just as World Cup fever is every four years.

On the other hand, much smaller local events, such as Pickering's Wartime Weekend, generate a lot of tourism and interest for the location itself, but the benefits of the opportunity are limited to the area and have little impact on surrounding towns and cities. Decide which events to embrace based on your target market and wider sales strategy.

Ultimately, try to keep up-to-date with where and when these events occur and whether they are worth exploring. Use local and national media to assess the public's mood and make sure your business is ready to maximise the financial rewards these events provide as early as possible.