A recent expo at the Portland Convention Center offered free rides on Thomas the Train for kids. As a result, the place was packed with families. Of course, it did not hurt that the expo was full of model trains either.
For any event to be successful, it has to attract people. If no one turns up to participate in the event, there really isn’t any point in having it. Vendors need to sell their products and services. If there is a charge for admission or ticket fee, someone has to pay.
Attracting families to an event is a great way to increase attendance. After all, it is not unusual for adults to go to activities by themselves. Children, on the other hand, pretty much always travel with a parent or guardian, which at least doubles your attendance. Consider then that many families include more than one child and more than one adult, and your head count increases dramatically. Another great benefit to attracting families to your event is many adults who won’t buy much for themselves have a hard time saying no to their children. For instance, the booths selling Thomas the Train toys at the expo did brisk business throughout the event.
So how do you attract families to your event. If your event is kid friendly to begin with, that helps, but adding kid friendly amenities and attractions is a good way to get families in the door whether or not the event would otherwise be a family function. You can pick attractions that fit your event, like the fishing pond at a recent outdoor show, the Thomas ride at the train show, or pony rides at a horse expo. You can also pick attractions that suit any kids, whether or not they are interested in the theme of your event.
Inflatables are a great family attraction. Kids love bounce houses and slides and if your event is outdoors, large inflatables serve as their own billboards as they are visual from a long distance away. Some events charge extra for kids to play in the inflatables while others include it as an added incentive for families with kids to attend.
Having live entertainers, like clowns, magicians, or musicians is another way to attract families to an event. Some entertainers even provide additional promotional services by contacting their own fans.
Another way to encourage families to attend an event it to offer discounted or free admission for children or family admission packages. Offering coupons is also a good way to encourage families to attend. The Expo Center further encourages people to come in groups by giving car pool discounts for parking cars with three or more people in them.
When advertising your event, be sure to promote your family friendly features. Advertise in family publications and promote the event with fliers and other promotions where families are likely to hear about it. Get your event added to as many calendars of events as you can, such as the online calendars for Metro Parent and NW Kids.