Cheltenham Balloon Fiesta
“We can’t thank the DP Marketing Communications team enough for all their hard work and dedication. For a first event, we couldn’t have been happier with the response from the local community and we are looking forward to a bigger and better year building upon the work that has already been done.”
The organisers of the event contacted us for help advertising the first ever Cheltenham Balloon Fiesta, a hot air balloon festival with a whole weekend of entertainment.
We’re no strangers to marketing (and running) events at DP Marketing Communications, so we met with our client to get a feel for their expectations of ticket sales, and to discuss creative ways to promote the event. We came away from the meeting recommending the following services and drew up a detailed event plan and budget:
- a new website
- social media event set-up
- social media management
- social media advertising (for trade and event)
- television advertising
- customer relations
- public relations
We are proud to report that the FIRST EVER Balloon Fiesta blew everyone away!
So, we got to work setting up a killer marketing strategy!
With hot air balloons, live arena entertainment, giant funfair and local traders at the famous Cheltenham Racecourse, combined with our marketing expertise, it didn’t take long for us to work our magic and for word to spread.
We knew that to make the first year a roaring success, we needed to prepare a plan. Which is exactly what we did. The plan was created months before the event took place, and we’re proud to say we achieved some amazing results. 🙂
£43,345.50 in online pre-booked tickets
3,658,552 clicks on Facebook between April and July
Over 50 local traders booked to the event (all paying rates varies according to pitch size).
We wanted to begin spreading the word as quickly as possible, to create a buzz about the event in the Cheltenham area and get local traders involved. But first we needed to create the brand: one that would stand out, be recognisable and of course fun!
What we did:
- Brand ID
- Local and National Event Listings
- Social media management
- Radio adverts
During the website development phase, we started working on getting the festival found on Google. We listed the event on all local directories with SEO rich content and a link to the website, as well as getting some strong backlinks from the press.
We also created both a Facebook page and an event. We find it best to have an event page as well as a Facebook page, as posts by events aren’t prioritised in people’s news feeds. It grew steadily week on week and traction on the page began to grow organically.
With a strong brand, we began posting regular organic content on social media pages.
Between January and April we were working closely with ITV to produce the TV advertisement and the local press and radio stations to advertise the event.
- Video Creation
- Content production
- Voice over
- Liaising with media partners
You can see the full TV advert video here:
Engagement (or inflation)…
Bring in local businesses!
We wanted to bring the community spirit to The Balloon Fiesta and to give local businesses the chance to showcase their products and services.
First we began posting competitions to win a free trade space on local Facebook groups. This brought us plenty of engagement!
The responses came in quickly, with many local businesses wanting to join the first event and the excitement was building quickly.
While we had originally planned to do some sponsored ads to generate interest in trade spaces (as we have done with other events), we never had to run them. The spaces filled quickly from our organic Facebook work. We decided that instead of running ads, we would put the budget into promoting online ticket sales.
We love it when this happens!
Countdown to Lift Off
We entered phase 3 in a good place on social media, having grown our audience significantly.
A few weeks before the event, two local schools were chosen at random for a special visit from the Events Balloon Director and an opportunity to see the balloons up close, learning about them and even watching their teachers go up in one!
St James Primary School
‘It was a wonderful experience for our pupils, they were excited by the balloon being inflated and enjoyed watching it being inflated’.
St James Primary School
Mrs. Lisa Harford, Headteacher
‘Fun and exciting, I liked seeing the colours of the balloon as it inflated.’
Tredington Primary School
‘On 20th of May children and adults at Tredington Primary were thrilled to welcome a hot air balloon with the pilots to school. We were blessed with perfect weather conditions which allowed our aeronautical visitors to inflate the balloon on the school field – much to the excitement and amazement of all. After this, adults who wished were allowed a taste of hot air ballooning, experiencing carefully controlled rides with the balloon firmly tethered to the ground after which the balloon was stowed away and children were able to climb into the basket and imagine flying high in the sky. This unusual event was part of the build up to the Cheltenham Balloon Fiesta – a very special experience for us all.’
Raising awareness for these visits really helped to boost the profile of the event. We organised a press photographer from Gloucester Live to attend the school visit and had some fantastic feedback from the school.
The local paper and online news Gloucester Live were covering the event and BBC Radio Gloucester had booked to be at the event on the Saturday for the morning show.
Ready to Launch
On the weeks running up to the event, the TV advert went out across the Meridian South area. We also launched an advert on Heart radio and offered family tickets through a contest on The Breeze Radio Station.
We ran incredibly successful ad campaigns during May and June. With just a £1,000 budget we ran 4 campaigns between April and June – with the highest ad spend allocated to just before the event.
Every ad had a relevancy score of 10 and a fantastic click through rate.
We analysed data from the event page and Skiddle to really understand who was buying. We could see the tickets were being purchased by women aged between 25-45. We took this information to streamline our targeting towards that demographic, meaning the ads achieved a high return.
Managing the Social Media
Around a week before the start of the event the Facebook page was buzzing with questions and comments. Between the team, we worked continuously to ensure we responded to all of the questions and communicated these out to the wider public. At this point there were around 4 or 5 posts daily on the week running up to the event.
During the Event
The first day of the event saw amazing weather and over 40 balloons take off from the racecourse in the morning.
We organised for a reporter to have a balloon ride and he documented the experience.
The second day of the event unfortunately saw the weather turn for the worse, and the balloons were cancelled.
Naturally, lots of people were unhappy with that experience. But with every negative post, there were far more of our audience showing support and understanding as we were responding to the comments.
As with any event, there were people providing constructive feedback. Being the voice of the Fiesta, we responded to all of the comments. Instead of feeling ignored, the people commenting knew their feedback had been taken on board for the next year.
After the event
The buzz continued after the Balloon Fiesta. We had so many wonderful responses and lots of people took the time to share their pictures on the page. We created an album for everyone’s images on the page and shared them for people to enjoy.
We even made the national press with our after-event PR work!
Overall, this was a hugely successful event. If you are interested in marketing support for your event, please get in touch for a free marketing planning session with us!