FROM THE DESK OF CHDC’S TOURISM DEVELOPMENT OFFICER

It never ceases to amaze me just how many things are going on in this region. There are not many weekends when there are no events offering something to do or experience.

The amount of volunteer time spent organising these events is huge and many just would not exist if it was not for the amazing efforts of all those involved.

The Central Highlands region really does punch well above its weight when it comes to the quality and quantity of events on offer. National events, like Gemfest – Festival of Gems, Australian Kart Championship, and the Australian Team Roping Association (ARTA) National Finals last week in Capella, bring many visitors from outside our region. Key events for the region – such as Ag Grow Emerald and the Emerald Show – are also great for the community. Then there are the countless local events run by not-for-profit organisations, sports clubs, schools, not to mention the fantastic country race meetings scattered through the Central Highlands. There really is an amazing amount of volunteer time, effort and money that make these events possible.

Events are not only great for the community, they are also great for tourists. Tourists also provide a different revenue stream for fundraising opportunities and most want to engage with the communities they are passing through. Some visitors are even a great source of assistance, volunteering to help at an event to immerse themselves in the community for the day.

But if burnout and volunteer fatigue hits the various committees, which it inevitably does, how can you ensure your events remain sustainable and successful for coming years?

A good way to look at an event organisation or the event itself is to think of it as a small business. Most events should be creating budgets, procedures and policies, grant writing submissions, and daily running templates. All this administration could be set up as files on computer so handovers are easy. It is also prudent to have all this to hand if key personnel suddenly become unavailable through illness or other unexpected incidents. It makes it easier for others to step in at short notice. It may sound a bit over the top to think of your event as a small business, but it does make sense to really capture and store all the great local knowledge the current committees have, making it that little bit easier when it is time for others to take over.

Marketing plans can also be tracked for their efficiency and worth. You do not want to go to all the effort of organising an event just to be the only ones there. Sure, Facebook is great but also consider the other free options, such as the Central Highlands Event Calendar, and local media. At times, paid advertising and promotion are worthwhile, but tracking its success is vital for future planning.

Probably the best “small business” approach is the creation of data bases of stall holders, volunteers, suppliers, and even the attendees. Having some idea of where your patrons are coming from, their age and other demographics is vital in the sustainability of your event. This is especially so if you are trying to grow the patronage, source funding and / or sponsorship.

For example, let’s say there were 6,000 attendees to an event targeted at grey nomads, who were asked a few key questions upon entry or online registration. One of them could be are you likely to be upgrading your caravan in the next 12 months? If say, 10 percent of respondents reply yes, that data of 600 potential customers could be presented to a caravan retailer as a compelling reason for the business to sponsor the event.

Creating packages with accommodation providers and local eateries is also a good way for businesses to leverage off events, and really allows the community to showcase itself to the full.

Events are hard work but still great for all involved. Every bit of time, effort and money spent on is also time effort and money spent promoting your community.

Please contact Vicki Leeson (CHDC Business Facilitator) on vleeson@chdc.com.au or myself if you think we can assist with your event.

For more information or a catch-up, contact Paul Thompson E: tourism@chdc.com.au or T: (07) 4982 4386.

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