The key to a great event isn’t just timing and location; it’s a mix of exciting activities, unique experiences and creativity. During the 29th Annual Dana Point Concours d’Elegance, the staff was faced with the task of not only introducing a major component, the inaugural Dana Point Vintage Automobile Auction to the Concours, but also promoting multiple activities over a three-day weekend in the epicenter of the collector car world: Orange County.
The 2011 Dana Point Concours d’Elegance successfully accomplished its goals by offering a one-of-a-kind event with a blend of distinct vehicles, including a 1931 Bugatti type 51 coupe, 1927 Bentley 6.5 Litre BX 2416 and a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K special roadster. Besides the exclusive Private Collection Tour, there was also an elegant selection of renowned automotive fine art by notable artists from around the world, including many members of the distinguished Automotive Fine Arts Society.
With more than 8,000 attendees flocking to the breathtaking golf links of the St. Regis Monarch Beach resort, many automotive events can take cues from this occasion, including the upcoming Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 17, to Sunday, Aug. 20.
To offer a few insightful do’s and don’ts learned during the Dana Point Concours, the following tips can help anyone create a successful event.
For starters, establish what you want out of a location, such as scenery, exclusivity, size and atmosphere. Highly-populated settings, unique areas, well-known stores or high-volume traffic locations should all be considered when picking a venue.
Sometimes out of the way locals get snubbed by tourists who don’t want to waste the travel time. The Dana Point Concours was located at the world-renowned, exclusive Monarch Beach Resort. If tourists weren’t swayed by the shiny metal, the hotel’s European atmosphere and glamour definitely helped.
Promoting the strongest areas of your event to specific, target audiences is also a must. You wouldn’t promote an invitation-only event through the media, or not announce an activity that’s free to the public via a news release.
During the Dana Point Concours, many people were unaware of the Private Collection Tour because of the limited number of spots available. When offering tickets to anything, the more people that know about it, the more likely the show will be sold out sooner.
Speaking of your target audience, they will remember effortlessly the best and worst part of your event. No matter how big or small the activity, there are bound to be a few hiccups. By offering an event that is different than the normal gala or dinner will spark some positive notes among visitors, especially if it was an original AND fun event.
For example, the Dana Point Concours d’Elegance was masterful in laying out the vehicles on the golf links. You didn’t see the same car or motorcycle twice and the vast greenery definitely set the tone.
Come up with something unique that most other companies similar to yours wouldn’t think about offering. For example, the Dana Point Concours introduced their event in Southern California where a Concours doesn’t exist. They also presented smaller activities, such as the Private Collection Tour, surrounding the Concours that gave enthusiasts a chance to see some of the best collections in Southern California. During any other normal automotive event, they wouldn’t have had the chance.
And last, but not least, don’t forget the bathrooms and food stations! An event can make for some grumpy guests if you don’t organize the bathroom locations and food areas. If it takes 15 minutes to walk to the first port-a-potty or buy a burger, chances are people will not take that lightly. Spread it out and offer a variety of food too. You never know who’s a vegetarian, meat-lover, vegan, or just plain picky.
No matter the style, size or list of activities, any event will be successful as long as planning and preparation are introduced at the beginning stages. After all, you want your guests to experience the delicious food, not the line to the one bathroom.