Sunday, July 8, 2018

How & Why 'Experiential Marketing' Should be High on a Company's Vocab List

As much as I try and steer away from quoting Wikipedia, their definition of Experiential Marketing (also known as engagement marketing, special events and event marketing) is spot on.

They define experiential marketing as a strategy "that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand or a brand experience." They go on to say that instead of a company seeing consumers as passive message-receivers, experiential or engagement marketing professionals believe that the consumer should be an active participant in the production, creation and execution of the company's marketing programs and campaigns, which is achieved by developing a trusting relationship with said brand.

For existing customers and raving fans of a company, the loyalty is already there. But what about breaking into new communities and developing a trusted relationship with these potential customers and long-term brand fans?

This type of forward-thinking marketing reach takes responsibility on behalf of the company as well as a genuine interest in their customer and potential consumers' needs.

In Nina Simon's book, The Art of Relevance, she talks about the people inside of an institution ("insiders") needing to do the leg-work and find what's truly relevant to new communities ("outsiders"), meet them on their terms and welcome them in with open arms. In a nutshell, "[Relevance] is not about connecting something new with information you already have. It's about how likely that new information is to yield conclusions that matter to you," according to page 36 of Simon's book.

So if a company were to create an event, for example, that matters to a new group of people in hopes to retain them as loyal customers, then that company needs to establish relevance to the group of people they're speaking to.

A practical and successful example of this type of marketing campaign comes from Lively brand's special events held around the nation. "We're an online brand that is made for real life, and we take every chance we can to get offline and out in the world," writes Lively on their 'events' page. "We love to meet up, hang out and hear what you have to say. So, watch this space for news about pop-ups, parties and more. You never know where we will be next!" Genius.

Lively extends different themed events like musical performances, wine-tastings, networking mixers, classes, you name it, into major cities around the U.S. They've created an ethos and strong culture around their "boss babe" campaign, and invite women of all shapes and sizes to participate in Lively's branding; they've literally created their brand around what their consumers need and want.

In my own experience working as a brand ambassador for companies like Esurance, Yahoo!, Rakuten and Google Pay, I've had a chance to use my performing arts and circus skills in activations that would normally include interaction on a more basic level, all in the name of experiential. My personal favorite moment was holding a Flag or Iron X (the horizontal body position on any vertical bar apparatus) from a nearby stop sign at a transit station while a crowd of onlookers oohhed, aahhed and snapped photos while waiting to hop on the Esurance party bus headed to the 49ers game at Levi Stadium. The bus was free, compliments of Esurance as a way to provide fun transportation to the game and get to know a new bus-load of potential customers. Then, when that activation got shut down for competing reasons with the VTA, Esurance snatched me up and put me inside the stadium to help facilitate their social media campaign from Snapchat. Anyone who followed Esurance's Snapchat and then came to our location where I was doing handstands and leaps off of cement structures, would receive a free field pass, scarves, and even a meet-n-greet with a former Niners quarterback.

So, as I continue to help my fellow marketing professionals introduce the idea of experiential, engagement and event marketing strategies to various different communities worldwide, I hope that companies and brands who want to thrive in today's society will adopt and embrace this method as a viable way to reach to new potential customers and future raving fans.

Interested in my guerrilla marketing tactics? Check out my company at Stellaria.Company and drop me a line!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

This is Why Theme Parks Should Have a Halloween Show or Haunted House...

Originally Published: May 9, 2017
 It's no surprise that Halloween has become one of the most lucrative holidays in the theme park sector of the tourism industry in recent years, but did you know that revenues are rising at a wicked rate?

Theme parks have been capitalizing on these scary attractions in order to off-set the costs of staying open longer after the more popular touristy season is over for a while now. According to an article on blooloop (a website aiming to network museums, aquariums, zoos as well as theme and water parks) from 2015, Knott's Berry Farm was the pioneer of the Halloween craze when they came out with one weekend of fright-fest during their Scary Farm in 1973.

The second company to launch a Halloween extravaganza waited 16 years. It was Six Flags Texas with their Fright Fest. Now, Halloween attractions and events account for 20% of all U.S. theme park attendance and is an integral financial component, according to

In October 2013, NBC News reported that the haunted house industry rose from a few million dollars per year to a $300 million dollar market (which has grown into a $500 million dollar market as of the Halloween season 2016). According to the same NBC article, Americans were spending $7 billion that season to celebrate Halloween. You read it right... BILLION, and that was back in 2013.

Another article from AOL written days before Halloween in 2014 wrote that Universal Studios Florida's "Halloween Horror Nights" was charging $95.99 per entrance every night they ran the event, which started on Labor Day. The park saw approximately 17,000 patrons during the weekday, and closer to 30,000 on Saturdays near the end of the month. Add on food and refreshments as well as VIP extras and then do the math.

When Universal Studios came out with their fourth quarter earnings for 2014, they reported a 30% increase in sales directly related to their Halloween events.

 Last year's (2016) Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween attractions continued a trend that has become nationally popular among haunted houses. They employed producers and directors of horror movies and TV to ramp up the scare quality. And, according to the Chicago Tribune, Six Flags Magic Mountain in Southern California not only extended its Halloween festivities an extra weekend, but build its largest labyrinth maze at 40,000 square feet. They also charged $40 per ticket per night or $200 per night for a ticket that allows guests to by-pass attraction lines.

Each of the articles researched in this blog had two things in common; a wild increase in profitability for Halloween in theme parks across the nation, as well as happy CEOs commenting on this growing trend. One even compared the Halloween market in theme parks to way that McDonalds continued to expand and add popular items to their menus that exponentially increased revenue and pushed them to fast-food stardom.

So what's the take-away for theme park directors, investors and managers? Invest a little in a professional haunted house, attractions, entertainment and/or all of the above and watch a large influx of profitability during the Halloween season. Boo!! Halloween 2017 is less than six months away...

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

3 Reasons Live Entertainment is so Important to the Tourism Industry

Originally Published: May 3, 2017

The tourism industry (namely resorts, cruise lines and amusement parks) seek to provide memorable experiences for their clients. These businesses aim to provide high quality luxuries that their patrons cannot find on a daily basis in their daily lives. And vacationers are looking for the same things when they're booking these trips.

If people wanted to stay home, not spend money, travel or be pampered, then they would take a "stay-cation." But they don't.

Live entertainment can be a major draw to vacationers, and a large factor in which resort, cruise line or amusement park they choose.

Keep them entertained and keep them happy.


Norwegian Cruise Line just celebrated its 50th year in business in 2016, and although they've seen many successes and failures since launching, the company continues to pave the way for the cruise line industry in many ways (check out this article by the Associated Press; Norwegian Cruise Line Looks Back at 50 Years of Innovation and Challenges).

Anyway, innovation equals recognition in any field. Since people are always seeking what's new, popular and cutting edge, why not give them live entertainment that is new, popular and cutting edge. Again, this will lead to resorts, cruise lines and amusement parks being sought after specifically for their innovative entertainment. And thus brings media attention and recognition.

The Disney company is another great example. We all know Disney does tourism entertainment well. It dominates when it comes to entertainment in general, and then pair it up with resorts within their amusement parks in popular and tropical locations, and you have yourself a successful travel destination. Not to mention their lavish four-ship fleet, all of which are dripping in Disney entertainment. 


One of the major Broadway producing moguls, Ken Davenport, put it wonderfully when he included this in his email blast on April 18, 2017; "Hey . . . just wanted to let you know that the Broadway grosses are up. And I don't mean that they were just posted. I mean they are up. Way up."

If Broadway is selling out seats and bringing well-earned audience members into the theatre, then the rest of the world should feel a little boost in performance art as well.

This, coupled with a growing investment in travel and tourism, is safe to project a healthy interest in theatre while abroad, or tourism entertainment, in the coming years.

According to a chart called Contribution of Travel and Tourism to World GDP published by the World Travel & Tourism Council in 2014, the tourist economy was already on a slow incline from a little under $6 billion in 2004 to almost $7 billion in 2014. The chart expects the GDP to rise to approximately $11 billion by 2024.

Check out an interesting article from Market Realist on this topic, here.

All of this illustrates why an investment in pioneering tourism entertainment is incredibly important to the hospitality entertainment sectors, like cruise lines, resorts and amusement parks.