Grand Opening Tips

Are you or do you know someone who is planning a grand opening for a new business? 

If you’re planning this type of event, you’ve got a million other things on your plate, too. Not only do you need to do everything that’s needed to plan a successful event, but you’ve also got to finish the construction of your space, kickoff your company’s marketing to try to get new clients, refine your pricing, stock up on inventory, etc.. Starting a business is a huge undertaking, so it’s not uncommon for businesses to get all wrapped up in the starting of the business, and then have an underwhelming or very stress-inducing grand opening event. 

If you’re really trying to make an impression with your potential clients and community, then a grand opening can be a great tool for this. Why not stick to the parts of the business that are in your zone of genius, and leave the planning details for someone else to manage? 

I love to plan grand openings and recently created planning packages specifically for grand openings. 


Know your audience 

Who are your ideal guests? Are you hoping to fill the room with friends and family, with referral partners, or with ideal clients? Do you intend to do all of the above? Everything from your invitations to your theme to your food will be based on this. Think hard about your audience and what is best for your grand opening. Based on your ideal audience, you can determine how to best reach them and get them in the room. You may even get to the point where you want to do a multi time/ day, or multi stage opening, if your audiences are varied. 

Theme

Again, based on your goals and your audience, what theme do you want? This could influence everything from the food that you serve to the decor, to the invitation style. What do you want your guests to feel? Are you going for a fun and casual party, or a more upscale and impressive ribbon cutting? Somewhere in between? Is there a charity that you’d like to involve, and if so, that can fit into your theme too. 

Prep the Space

This might be obvious, but make sure that your space is ready for guests. Big things like occupancy permits will be needed, but also small things like paper towels in the bathrooms and a floor mat at the door for people to brush off their feet. Make sure you do a quick (or thorough) dusting to remove any construction dirt, and do a scan of your parking lot to be sure people will know where to park. Basically, prepare your space to make sure it’s going to give the impression that you want it to give. 

Build up Excitement

It’s very likely that one or two social media posts, and one invitation in the mail or email is not going to cut it. Again, this will depend on your ideal audience, but do what you can to give sneak peaks of your new business, and the plans that you have for your grand opening. Whether you use Facebook, or Instagram, or email, or billboards, or even just word of mouth, don’t assume that people will notice or remember your initial announcement. Build excitement by offering sneak peaks. 

Tell the Press

If someone doesn’t have social media (yes there are those types of people out there!), then how will they know about your event? Even if you are inviting a very specific list of people by email and snail mail, it still is a good idea to tell the press about your grand opening. Even if the event won’t be open to the public, it’s assumed that your business will eventually be open to the public, and some free press in the form of a human interest story can’t hurt. Figure out your angle- new businesses can be very exciting for a community, but don’t hesitate to share more of your story, too. Pick up the phone and/ or send an email to your local press before and after your grand opening. Some publications will publish a short blurb with a photo after the opening, so keep that in mind too.

Personal Invitations 

This is a good idea for any type of event, let alone a grand opening. People want to feel included, and a personal invitation is always a good idea. If there are specific people you’d like to see at your event, you need to invite them. I don’t just mean by clicking “invite friends” on the Facebook event, either. Send a personal email or text, or pick up the phone and call. Even if you’ve already sent an invitation in the mail, it’s not a bad idea to follow up to ensure they got the invitation and to make sure they know that you want them there. 

Moraine State Park Regatta 2021 – Recap

The Moraine State Park Regatta 2021 was a huge success and we are excited to have had the opportunity to belatedly celebrate the 50th anniversary of Moraine State Park.

We are grateful for all of our sponsors, vendors, safety partners, board and staff, and attendees for making this a record-breaking year for the Regatta.

The Moraine State Park Regatta was a resounding success with 28,000 attendees throughout the weekend. 

In addition to our staff and board, our 7 safety partners and 45 volunteers helped make this event run smoothly. We had 6 live entertainers and 64 vendors for attendees’ enjoyment throughout the weekend, as well as numerous kids’ activities. We were thrilled to see over 100 cars at the car cruise. Nearly 1300 participants tried recreational activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, yoga, archery, etc. as a part of the Get Moving! Moraine initiative; not counting the children who participated in the kids’ fishing, 14 of whom caught their first fish. Rounding out the weekend was the Saturday night fireworks show, and the Sunday evening butterfly release which included 400 butterflies. 

2021 Event Trends (Part 2)

Mystery
How can you create more mystery in your events this year? Intrigue can get people talking, it can set your event apart, it can create exclusivity or a VIP feeling, and it can make your event just a little more exciting. Maybe it’s a surprise entertainer, a venue that is not disclosed until the day of the event, or a secret emcee. Whatever it is, think of ways to incorporate little surprises into your events this year. Remember murder mystery dinners?
Contactless Food Service
Food and beverage will be different than before in many ways, and one of which is the way that it is served. Attendees may be a little squeamish still about the way their food is served in the context of a large conference, so consider this when you are planning. Buffets are discouraged, so maybe all meals are served to each seat instead. Or maybe snacks or meals are pre-packaged with designated pick up spaces, so there aren’t as many lines, but attendees can still get up and stretch their legs. Consider the benefits of having attendees pre-order their own meals, so everyone is still getting a choice, but you have less variables on the day of the event. There are countless options for creativity when it comes to food service, but I would predict that less contact is better for this year.
Email
Have you noticed a decrease in your social media engagement over the past few weeks or months? The algorithm is constantly changing, and those algorithms are made to be profitable to the social channels themselves, not necessarily businesses or organizations. While social media can be extremely helpful, and is definitely a good tool, it may be good to begin focusing more marketing efforts on email. You own your email list, while you do not own your social media followers. Your social accounts can be turned off at any time, while you are much more in control of your email accounts. The statistics are alarming when it comes to how quickly people check their email in the morning. Work on building your email lists for your events this year, and then engage those contacts with relevant information. Email marketing is something that we are going to do more of with our large events this year, and this trend may be effective for your organization as well.

Moraine State Park Regatta 2021

We are thrilled to be working with the Moraine State Park Regatta board again in 2021. We missed it in 2020, and can’t wait to finally celebrate the 50th anniversary of Moraine State Park! This is one of our favorite events because the purpose is to celebrate the park and promote eco-recreational activities. This year’s planning will be a lot different, but we’re excited about the refocused mission, and can’t wait for summer! Let me know how you’d like to get involved.

2021 Event Trends (Part 1)

After lots of research and plenty of conversations, I’m happy to share some event trend predictions for 2021! (Not all are Covid related, either.)

Safety First

It is imperative that in-person events follow all guidelines to reduce COVID transmission. As you plan your live events, be sure to prioritize safety. That could mean social distancing, masks, hand sanitizing stations, or whatever it takes so that your event is not a superspreader. Of course don’t forget other “normal” safety considerations like fire extinguishers, security, emergency exits, first aid, etc. In order to make attendees comfortable at an event, clearly communicate and demonstrate that safety is a priority. 

Meaningful Connections

After almost a full year of very few in-person events, meaningful connection will be key to live events. People are craving interaction with other people (not on a screen), so this will be something to consider as you begin to plan for live events. For example, you may want to have your networking sessions or table discussions at your next conference be longer than in past years. Attendees will still want quality content, but may be much more attracted to your event if it means they can connect with other attendees.

Outdoor Meetings

This is a trend that I love, and one that maybe one where I’m way ahead of the curve. (I’m fortunate enough to have a beautiful outdoor space at my office for meetings, and have always preferred outdoor meetings to indoor!) People are craving in-person interaction, but they will be much more comfortable meeting outside than inside. Outdoor meetings not only provide fresh air, which is healthier, but they can provide engaging scenery, and can be more comfortable, too. After all, who wants to be in an indoor meeting when it’s a beautiful day outside? Productivity and moods can both be boosted with a little fresh air.