In a saturated market, standing out means researching trends and doing them your way. Image by www.iamsterdam.com.
It’s no secret- today’s event market is a saturated one. And because the winter holidays are so widely celebrated, the competition increases tenfold as people take time off of work and make plans. What usually works for you- a great lineup of speakers, performances by beloved entertainers, or being the best or most unique in your niche- isn’t going to be enough. Because attendees aren’t going to pay more to indulge in their usual experience with your brand. They’re going to want all of that and more. Whether this time of year is celebratory, difficult, or both for people, they want to be razzled and dazzled by your event. And in order to accomplish that, your event has to stand out. It has to not only meet lofty expectations, but exceed them.
Now that we’ve emphasized the importance of delivering unique value at this time of year, we won't continue to overwhelm event creators more than they already are. Instead, let’s break down some surefire ways to ensure your holiday niche is unlike any other.
Mastering the art of holiday events is an evolutionary process for even the most seasoned pro. With that in mind, you don’t want to entirely abandon what’s worked for you in the past. Because the holidays are sentimental, you’ll want to create a unique, memorable event that feels like part of your brand for years to come. Carving out a holiday niche means putting your own special spin on tradition, and doing it annually. If you have already done this, you’ll still want to add new and different touches each year; your event should be a time-honored tradition that evolves to meet changing needs and thrill a diverse crowd.
'Tis the Season to Stand Out
In the age of social media, people don't just want to attend unique events- they want to share them with the world. Image by www.roaminghunger.com.
Let Demographics and Psychographics Bring Your Party to Life
"Tis the season for buyer personas- they're still the best way to keep up with an ever-evolving customer base. Image by www.lightspeed.com.
When dreaming up an event that blows guests away this winter, consider who they are. What is their age, income bracket, gender, occupation, and education level? Demographics are important because they are associated with specific buyer behaviors. However, you don’t want to stop there. Psychographics give more nuanced, detailed information that helps marketers forge deeper, lasting connections with their target audience. Some of this includes information about their values, attitudes, lifestyle, and aspirations.
Sophisticated buyer personas can tell you a lot about what is important to your attendees- both generally and in terms of events. Is your customer base wellness-focused, is your business culinary-based, or is your audience committed to sustainability? Sometimes attaching a niche-related theme or charitable cause can really set your event apart.
Celebrate Culture Beyond Christmas and Hanukah
Sometimes global or non-religious holidays are the biggest crowd pleasers- and they're ideal for catering to experiential audiences, too. Image by www.bonitacanyon.com.
Common sense will tell you a lot, too. For example, if you live in a diverse area, you may want to make an inclusive choice and go with a global holiday. Take Diwali, which represents spiritual light over darkness and is celebrated all over the world by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and many Buddhists. This international holiday also symbolizes the triumph of good over evil, a universal concept that is also embraced by many agnostic or atheist individuals.
The Day of the Dead is another beloved global holiday. On this day, many Central American and Mexican families welcome the spirits of dead loved ones home for a spiritual visit. While its association with the dead has sometimes led to it being mistakenly related to Halloween, it’s actually not. There are many other global holidays to spotlight at your event if you want to avoid the status quo.
Cultures often have more influence on one another than we suspect, so it makes sense to focus on the parts of specific traditions that you connect with. This way, your event will feel festive, to be true to cultural roots, and not give off a pretentious vibe. More than ever, our connections are widespread; they span borders and continents. Learning how people in other cultures celebrate their holidays forges connections between people- which is what the holiday spirit ideally brings out.
In the northern hemisphere, the holiday season happens around the same time as the winter solstice. At this time, the days are shortest and the nights longest. As a result, many holidays are focused around spreading light and warmth. And because winter solstice is not rooted in religion, it is often embraced by people who are non-religious, too. For some, it is simply a day in which many embrace the beauty and magic of the coldest time of the year. A Winter Wonderland theme is also a picturesque way to celebrate the magic of the season without focusing on a religious holiday.
From Die Hard-themed escape rooms for movie lovers to Thanksgiving food truck festivals, combining a niche with beloved traditions has worked for many events. When deciding on a theme, you also want to consider your goals. What reason are you hosting a holiday event? Are you looking to generate sales within your niche? Are you raising money toward a charity, celebrating an anniversary, or simply throwing the company’s annual holiday bash? Is it your company’s yearly get-together, and you have a product to sell? You can gear the event toward business by launching your product on the same day. Giving attendees an opportunity to win a free trial in a contest or raffle can be fun and productive.
If you’re having trouble coming up with a theme that caters to your audience and furthers your business goals, do your homework. Social media networking is so vital to most companies that it’s like you already have an Instagram presence. A simple look through recent posts by your competitors and customers can reveal trends you want to tap into. What are your followers talking about right now? What do they care about most this holiday season? If you’re new to Instagram, try searching popular hashtags associated with your niche.
Another way to stand out during the holidays is to do a vintage theme. During this season, many people are on a rare hiatus from work and want to be transported to another place and time. Why not host a roaring 20s holiday? Or a 1950s party where everyone gets decked out in their best rockabilly attire? The possibilities of time travel are endless in this case.
Get Creative With Virtual Audiences
The more the merrier? That can be the case when holiday events go hybrid. Image by www.letsroam.com.
Although restrictions have been lifted and the mask mandate is over in most regions, there are several good reasons to go hybrid. For one thing, doing so can vastly increase your reach and expand your networking opportunities. Brand awareness, lead generation, and including those who can’t leave home to attend all reasons why companies hold hybrid or virtual holiday events.
Since holiday parties are meant to dazzle and entertain, it’s important for virtual events to be immersive. If your theme is the roaring 20s, consider sending out bottles of champagne or cocktail-making kits to make the experience feel more authentic. If applicable to your theme, encourage attendees to wear fun costumes or even just evening wear that makes them feel festive. You may also want to deliver a special holiday meal or treat for everyone to eat together from afar. If it’s a family-friendly event, try making gingerbread houses or do another hands-on project that everyone can participate in. Streaming festive music that compliments your theme also makes a virtual party come alive.
And let’s face it- many professional teams are virtual these days, and they deserve a gathering, too! Virtual ugly sweater parties, watching a classic movie, and doing fun team-building activities can be festive and fun. For example, you could take attendees on a tour or virtual vacation to learn about other holiday markets. Trivia and learning about how other cultures celebrate winter holidays isn’t just entertaining- it can also help guests learn from what the most successful markets are doing. This idea is especially well-suited to company parties in travel and hospitality industries.
Choosing a unique event design is vital to surviving the competitive holiday market. The good news is that event planners are endlessly creative and resourceful. If you don’t want to get lost in the crowd, start by discerning what you’ve done before that has made your brand and events a success- then put a unique spin on them based on what your customers care about right now. Remember, as times change, so do your attendees and their interests. While you want to hold onto what makes you you as a brand, you also want to stay current.
The best way to do that? Keep connected to your customers all year around. This way, you’ll already have a solid idea of who they are and what they want from events. Building a buyer persona goes a long way toward carving out a holiday niche that blows away the competition.