One of the most important things a DMO must do with their website is keep the content fresh. The best method (for multiple reasons we will discuss) is to have the marketing team continually generating content. That also happens to be one of the biggest challenges as it is no easy undertaking to drum up new information out of thin air! Fortunately, there are several ways your destination can create content—one of which is by using a community events calendar.
Why should a destination consider a community events calendar?
We believe one of the best tactics a DMO can employ in marketing their city is to sell the experience of their destination. And what better way to communicate the livelihood and activities of your area than with a listing of events? We have deployed community calendars in a range of sizes and functionalities. In every case, the common goal was to gather local activities in one central repository for visitors to search through and find details. The calendar we put on the Visit Columbus, GA’s website is a good example. This events calendar not only helps potential visitors, it also aggregates and promotes all of the CVB’s partners’ events and gatherings in one central place.
What type of events should your calendar include?
You may wonder if your calendar should include big-ticket events, more general public activities or even meetings. The answer actually depends on your objective. While you do want to share everything your city has to offer, you need to be mindful of what information a visitor may be seeking. It might make sense to include town meetings if it is genuinely sought-after information (e.g. promoting local government functions). But if your primary focus is to enhance tourism related economic development, your best bet is to keep events in the realm of fun experiences. How you define “fun” is also up to you, but be sure to be open to all possibilities as visitors are likely seeking both the larger events as well as the more local-flavored art exhibit or foodie adventure.
Additional benefits of a community calendar
For the Columbus, Georgia community calendar (and in many other cases), we made a point of developing the feature within the main website’s content management system (CMS). By using the same CMS, the DMO is already familiar with the admin and can easily manage events. This familiarity also lends itself to the marketing team helping partners add and maintain their event listings if the CVB is willing to allow access to frequent event-holders. As an added bonus, this CMS integration opens up the potential to feature event data throughout the website or, vice versa, more readily link events to other pages, like business details.
Oh, the possibilities! Read about other ways to get more mileage out of your content.
What information should your events include?
- Event details - This is the meat and potatoes of the calendar. Cover important details, but avoid information overload!
- Date and time - This is an obvious requirement, but also where things can get tricky—especially if your attraction has events that are recurring. Make sure you have a handle on what types of event schedules your partners will need.
- Location! - At the very least, provide a map and address for the event. Bonus points if you can show proximity to other attractions and dining. What could be better than showing where to grab a bite to eat after a show? Or after that late-night concert, places to spend the night?
- Imagery - An image can go a long way - especially if it can convey a user’s experience. But when an image is not available, make sure to have a fallback for the times one can not be provided.
- Necessary links - Remember, you don’t have to include EVERY detail about your event. Instead, link out to the original sources, and if there is an opportunity to link directly to buy tickets or make a booking, include that on your calendar.
- Categories - Categorize your events so people can readily see if there are additional events that pique their interest.
- SEARCH! - Put the power in the visitor’s hands and give them the ability to find the events they are seeking. This is another area that can be straightforward (e.g. keyword or date search), or complex (e.g. categories, venue calendars, and more).
- Share - People are social by nature. Give them the means to directly pass on information they find interesting to others with the capability to share in social media, email, or by other means.
In an age where content is king and the more new content you can put on your website more frequently the better (Psst! Search Engines LOVE new content!), a community events calendar seems like a no-brainer. But it is still something that has to be weighed for the pros and cons of any destination considering it. You need to be sure your marketing team and/or stakeholders can regularly commit to adding and maintaining the content. When you do commit to it and a calendar becomes reality, then you have just employed crowdsourcing in a win-win situation for all involved parties. And as an added bonus, you will have taken a step towards better stakeholder collaboration.