As the country eases its way out of lockdowns, Aussies are gearing up for a huge summer.

But it isn’t as simple as going into Facebook and duplicating marketing campaigns from 2019. The average punter in 2021 may be hopeful, but they might also be exhausted, cautious or burnt by 18 months of postponed or cancelled plans.

The market will also be really crowded. Summer events will likely be announced in November, as opposed to the usual timeline of New Years-centred events starting their campaigns way back in August.

At Bolster we’ve never really stopped. Our Digital Marketing Team has been executing marketing campaigns for events throughout the pandemic, like Bluesfest, Splendour XR, Billie Eilish, Flight Facilities, Factory Summer, Origin Fields, Beyond The Valley, King Street Carnival, Summer Sounds Festival and more.

bluesfest byron bay aerial shot location
Bluesfest Byron Bay

Here are our top learnings for promoters looking to ramp up activity this summer.

1. Tell your punters if they should hold out (or not)

More and more we’re seeing punters sliding into festival DMs hoping for a hint about whether they should keep December 31 free for them, or give up hope and buy tickets to a competing event.

It may seem counterintuitive to hint at upcoming dates way in advance with nothing locked in, but a vague heads up to your core audiences means that they know something is coming. This will make the actual announcement campaign way easier, especially important because this summer’s event market will likely see a barrage of announcements across the same few weeks

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Pro tip: Set up a Facebook event as a cheeky ‘save the date’ for your hardcore audiences.

2. Be clear (or as clear as you can be)

Having publicly available information about COVID protocols (eg. what happens if a punter gets sick, or an LGA goes into lockdown) will make prospective punters more comfortable with booking tickets. We’ve also seen great results from ads showcasing what the event experience looks like (eg. pods, timed entry, dance floors, GA tickets) to empower consumers to make informed purchase decisions. Things are changing all the time, but your event goers will appreciate you being as transparent as you can be at that point in time.

Pro tip: To increase consumer confidence and allay fears, clearly and proudly announce when you have your final approval status from the government or council area you are working with.

3. Be prepared for a vocal few

While the vast majority of Australians are rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated, there are a handful of Aussies who aren’t getting the jab or don’t want to wear face masks.

It may be scary when hordes of scathing comments start coming in, especially when they claim to be lifelong fans who will never come back again, or that they will report you for discrimination. But what we’ve discovered is that the vocal few are exactly that – only a very few individuals.

We’ve also found that there is a sub community sharing ‘hit lists’ of pages to attack, so it’s likely that many of these so called fans are likely not actually fans and are just copying and pasting vitriol onto your page.

Another thing we’ve noticed is that for every anti-vax sentiment posted onto our clients’ pages, we’ve had hordes of positive and loyal fans supporting them for doing the right thing. And on that note – have a clear stance. Even if your view is just following government guidelines, being clear makes it easier for the vast majority of punters to understand what is happening.

Pro tip: Be careful with wording, and aim for promoting good behaviour (“Excited to have our fully vaccinated punters in our venue!”) over punishing negative behaviour (“We won’t be admitting unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people into our venue.”).

4. Glass Half Full

Consumers always react better to positivity. COVID messaging can be tricky, but events can reframe challenges as exciting news. Instead of complaining that a COVID outbreak means you can’t run a winter event, celebrate your warmer summer dates. Shine a spotlight on being able to wait a few months to have an incredible dance floor, instead of going ahead with a tame seated version of your festival with only half the lineup.

It’s true you’ll probably need to send out some news that may be hard to swallow as we exit the pandemic. However, it’s likely these messages can be pretty targeted. If you need to refund attendees, chances are you have their contact info and can hit them up privately with the key details.

Social media is your channel to hype up your event brand, so use it only for messaging that makes you look good.

Pro tip: Avoid pointing fingers at the government, suppliers, artists, or other third parties for bad news. You can be transparent about explaining what happened without assigning blame. Consumers see through this easily, and you might cop more negative comments as a result.

Get in touch with Bolster if you’d like to chat further about getting your audience primed for a summer to remember.