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A Guide to Marketing Your Destination Before, During & After an Event

Packed stadium at basketball game

Take a second to consider: how many people come to your destination for an event?

Sporting events, concerts, festivals, and other special events are a major draw and can bring fresh crowds of first-time visitors to your destination.

Yet many DMOs aren’t taking advantage of this.

To give you an idea of just how heavily events can influence local tourism, consider the impact that sports have on Indianapolis’s tourism industry. Sporting events specifically contribute the following:

  • $342 million dollars in revenue
  • 113% increase in hotel revenue
  • 147% higher average daily room rate

*stats from Chris Gahl’s talk at ESTO17

Not to mention the thousands or millions of dollars worth of earned media coverage and social media conversation (think: Instagram and Facebook posts, Snapchat videos, and Tweets).


So, how can you ensure local events drive revenue, repeat visits and garner positive attention for your destination? At the ESTO conference this year, Chris Gahl from Visit Indy and Thomas See from Live Nation Entertainment shared their best tips on how to capitalize on these opportunities, by marketing your destination before, during, and after an event. Here’s what you need to know!


How to market your destination BEFORE the event begins

The goal: To make travelers see your destination as more than just a backdrop for the event they want to attend. Position your destination as a place they’re lucky enough to have an opportunity to explore, and give them incentive to do so!

When a popular musician adds your city to their tour, grab onto those coattails and don’t let go! Make sure everyone who’s interested in the concert finds a reason to stay for longer before they book their trip.

Create special discount packages for event-goers. If the event is on a Thursday, this is a great opportunity to entice visitors to spend the rest of their weekend in your destination. One straightforward way to do this is to offer special weekend discounts together with your tourism partners, for event-goers. This extra incentive may be all they need to  explore more of your city.

Take advantage of AdWords to drive interest. Try targeting searches for “[artist] + [your destination]” and direct traffic to those weekend specials or other relevant content about booking a hotel room and extending their trip!


Interested in how other DMOs are promoting their events? We wrote a blog post about that.

How to market your destination DURING the event

The goal: To offer an unforgettable experience that visitors will always associate with your destination. Create a positive memory to draw attendees back again and again.

Creating a memorable experience for visitors is sometimes as simple as showing that you notice them!

Create personalized signage that welcomes guests at key points of entry. Something like, “Hey Superbowl fans! Welcome to Minneapolis!” is an easy way to make someone smile. If your destination is a drive market, having eye-catching billboards on the highway could be a fun way to say hi. If you’re mainly a fly market, digital screens at airports can also make a great first impression.


This is also a fine opportunity to introduce your brand hashtag and encourage visitors to share their photos with it.

Incorporate your visitors’ event photos into your destination’s physical space. To take your signage one step further and truly evoke positive emotions, make visitors a part of your space by curating and displaying their social photos on a digital screen.


With a platform like CrowdRiff, you can curate your favorite photos taken by event go-ers and turn them into slideshows, or even create a live photo collage that’ll automatically refresh with new photos with the event’s hashtag, that works perfectly as a display on a screen.

Imagine going back to your hotel after a great sports game, and coming across a digital screen with the Instagram photo you just took displayed alongside the photos of other die-hard fans.


Not only is this a creative way to welcome guests to your destination and hotel, but it’s also a powerful talk trigger that will spark more chatter and conversation on social media.

How to market your destination AFTER the event ends

The goal: To remind visitors of the great time they had in your destination, create a sense of nostalgia, and inspire them to come back again soon.

Just because the event is over, doesn’t mean marketing’s job is done! This is a great time to use the momentum and energy from a recent event to fuel online interest and conversation.

Write a recap post including visual user-generated content. Give attendees a chance to relive the highlights! Create a recap that includes the best parts of that event, and jam-pack it with the best photos and videos from social media. Including these images will also make fans who didn’t attend see what they missed out on.


Save your favorite social visuals for next year. If you host a recurring festival like Coachella or Oktoberfest, keep a record of the best visuals from this year’s event for future marketing purposes – you’ll thank yourself next year! CrowdRiff enables you to categorize visuals into albums so you can stay organized and quickly find the image you’re looking for. If you don’t use CrowdRiff, you might consider making a document to bookmark the links to your favorite social visuals.

Retarget visitors with ads detailing future events they might like. If someone traveled to your city for a baseball game, chances are they’d be interested in a basketball game, too; if they recently attended a Taylor Swift concert, make sure they know when Shawn Mendes will be in town!

Take advantage of the tourism potential your destination’s events can bring in!

Large events can bring in hoards of visitors to your destination — and keep them coming back too, if you know what to do. We hope this post has given you some great ideas to implement the next time you have a special event in your destination.

And if you’re interested in how you could be using a visual marketing platform like CrowdRiff to help curate the best UGC visuals, let us know today!

About the author

Amrita Gurney is the Vice President of Marketing at CrowdRiff, where she leads a team responsible for brand, content, product marketing and demand generation. Amrita loves contemporary art, museums, drinking tea and travelling (of course!).