As an event planner, the last thing you want your attendees to feel is that your event could have been held in any city in the world, and they wouldn’t have noticed any difference. After all, every city has quality hotels, so what else can you offer? Adding local flavor to an event helps to create an experience that sets it apart from any other your event goers have been to.
People today are more traveled, which can make them harder to impress. And, you’ll find you’re planning events for a new generation that want different things to the previous ones. Millennials want something uniquely local to experience as they crave a greater sense of connection.
Adding local flavor to an event will make it more memorable and successful, but you can also use this in marketing your event. It will help potential attendees feel like going to your event will be worth their time, money and the efforts of travel. Not only that but maximizing your resources by choosing to add local flair to an event will help you stand out from your competition. After all, competing for attendees is something every event organizer is familiar with.
What not to do when adding local flavor to an event
Before we dive into the best ways to add local flavor to an event, we want to point out things not to do. That way you can keep them in the forefront of your mind and don’t confuse the meaning of adding local flair.
Firstly, you should never go too quickly to an assumption of what the theme of your event should be. Coming up with a theme automatically, especially if you aren’t intimately familiar with a location, means you probably came up with an answer that’s a little obvious and cheesy. What’s more, it’s probably been done a thousand times before and will do little to impress your event goers. As an example, consider Charlotte. NASCAR is an obvious standout for the city, but do you think incorporating checked flag tablecloths and car-themed desserts are going to wow your guests? There’s also much more to Charlotte than NASCAR. It’s important to do the city hosting the event and its people justice in how you choose to represent it.
When adding regional flair to an event, it’s also important to not go too dated. Local history is very important, and you can certainly include aspects of it in your event. But, you still need to incorporate modern elements to complement any historical highlights. Balance is key otherwise the purpose of your event could be lost in an immersion of history.
What aspects of local flavor should you consider?
Food may be the first thing that comes to mind when adding local flavor to an event. While we want to show you there is more to it than that, cuisine shouldn’t be discounted because of its value in creating shared experiences. Rather than choosing one particular food the region is known for and incorporating it in as many ways as possible, there are some much more appealing ways to add flair.
Firstly, think about the area in terms of its produce. These days, consumers are demanding healthier, sustainable options. There’s no reason you can’t use this desire and ensure all food served at your event is locally produced. You could even let the guests know about the farmer’s markets it came from, so they can visit them if they choose.(…)
You can get cultural when adding local flavor to an event by choosing a venue that reflects the region. Consider local museums, art galleries, and historic architecture. You might find that’s suitable for hosting your entire event, but this idea works well for holding just part of the event in such a venue too.
Alternatively, you don’t have to hold your event in the venue, but you could have it somewhere overlooking it. Somewhere with an excellent view of the historical architecture, for example, would work well too. It’s a subtler option, but worth considering if the buildings have a greater impact on the outside than the interior.
You can have a lot of fun choosing entertainment for your event that reflects the destination culture. If there is a particular style of music or dance the region is known for, then that makes a great option. Alternatively, using your data on potential attendees, you could look at their favorite style of music. Then find a local band in that genre to perform.
If it’s a good fit for your audience, a local dance club could put on a performance. Another idea is to look at the performance scene. Does the destination have a reputation for their stand-up comedy or improv? See if you can find local comedians to provide some light relief at your event.
Ideas for infusing local flavor into events
Now that you have a good idea of what adding authentic local flavor to an event means let’s dive into some awesome ideas for doing just that.
Gifts and souvenirs
Giving little gifts, souvenirs and gift bags to event goers is one of the fun parts of event planning for sure! But finding something with local flair can go wrong when you choose something that isn’t relevant or useful. Those types of gifts are unfortunately a waste of time – you don’t want it going in the bin back in their hotel room!
To do it right, you need to find a connection between the interests or business of the attendees and the local area. For example, if you’re holding a business conference, there’s a likelihood your attendees work at desks. A paperweight with the city’s top landmark is a pretty standard gift. But, what about if you took it up a notch and sourced glass-blown paperweights that were made by local artists? We think that would be something your attendees would love to have on their desks. Not only is it useful, but likely to be a conversation-starter! Remember that people love to have stories to tell of their travels.
Travel guides and itineraries
One of the best ways of adding local flavor to an event comes with supporting attendees for the entire period of their stay, not just for the hours or days of your event. When event goers are traveling to attend your event, it’s likely they’ll be staying for some time either side of the event. As we mentioned earlier, they could even be turning it into a vacation with loved ones. In this case, you might want to do some of the hard work for them, providing them with resources for planning their destination leisure time. Try these ideas:
- Incorporating some « after-hours » activities that they can opt-in for to help them explore the local area
- Providing suggested itineraries that they can follow
- If your event spans a few days, you could plan to give attendees some free time to explore (e.g. ending each day at 2 pm)
- Create best-of guides you’ve tailored to your attendees’ interests
- Organize a tour promotional offer
- Best of all, you could look at setting up your own tour for attendees as a part of your event – a major drawcard!
Create a « wish you were here » vibe
While it’s important your attendees are here in person, experiencing everything on offer, it helps to find ways to make it translate well digitally. People love to take share-worthy photos to flaunt on social media and make others envious. You can help them with that by finding Insta-worthy landmarks and backdrops to show non-attendees what they’re missing out on! For bonus points, you should even build on the previous idea and facilitate getting them there. If others can see them having a great experience, it tends to consolidate that feeling in themselves too!(…)
Our best advice when adding local flavor to an event is to steer clear of the predictable or somewhat cheesy route. Choose local aspects that are genuinely interesting, and that will stay with attendees when they return home. A good guideline is to incorporate things that locals themselves are proud of, and you’ll be wowing attendees in no time!
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Source and photos: Endless Events Blog