For many in the industry, the transition from winter to spring is a scary one. After so many months of inactivity, the common thought of “Will it ever be as busy as it once was?” enters the minds of many operators. We know it will pick up, but seeing the account balance slowly diminish through the offseason brings apprehension.
While challenged with these thoughts, I tried to think of creative ways to make the phone ring as opposed to waiting for it to ring. Seeing how boogies bring in fun jumpers, why not create an event that brings in tandem jumpers?
A pull event is designed to pull people in. Though tandem skydives are offered during every operational day, creating a day or weekend event targeted to a specific interest group can help increase bookings dramatically. While figuring this out several years ago, I decided to target college students. Collegiates have a high interest in skydiving despite a low disposable income.
In 2006, we launched our first ever ‘College Weekend’ which resulted in 220 students from 25 different universities over two days. It was a huge hit and has been a successful program since. To draw in significiant numbers requires time and a strategy, but the end result will work if you work the system. In this week’s newsletter, I show how to create a powerful pull event – ‘College Weekend.’ The tips below can also be implemented for similar programs like: Service Industry Day (hosted on a Monday) or within MeetUp specific groups.
1. Time. For the inaugural College Weekend event, planning began eight months prior to the launch date. The key is starting early and identifying the people who will be interested in promoting your event.
2. Select a Date. Be sure to select a date that doesn’t conflict with a major HOME football game for the largest university in your area. In 2008, I overlooked a major game and it affected attendance greatly. Be sure to not conflict with fall break or if planning a spring event – spring break and the spring exam schedule.
3. Offer a Discount. College students struggle to pay the full retail price of a tandem skydive. Plan to offer around $50 OFF per person. All students should be able to show a student ID.
4. Find The Right Contacts. There are employees at nearly every college and university who are charged with finding cool events for students. Before you can promote, identify these people. These people are: a). Leaders at Outdoor Adventure / Campus Recreation Programs b). Social Chairs at fraternity and sorority groups c). Campus organizations d). Military training groups – ROTC.
The information you are seeking is generally found within the web pages of the university or with a Google search for the above terms. Be sure to collect e-mail, telephone and physical address information as e-mail and snail mail campaigns will be used. An example of locating the correct contacts at the University of South Carolina is spelled out at the end of this newsletter.
5. Create a College Specific Database – If you keep a database of all of your tandem students (and you should), create a specific database for anyone listed on your waivers between the ages of 18 and 23 or with those that have an e-mail address ending in .edu. Using a newsletter, target this specific database once every six weeks highlighting your event. The newsletter should be more frequent as the event draws near. College students love to wait until the last minute to lock in their reservations.
6. Create a Flyer – To better target local colleges and universities, have local students post flyers on cork boards throughout campus. These cork boards are found everywhere: dining halls, dormitories, post office and academic halls. Having a quick design created can be made simply and inexpensively by utilizing designers via odesk and printed via VistaPrint.
7. Create a Mailer – Be more official and have an inexpensive mailer created to send to all social chairs / outdoor adventure program leaders etc. This demonstrates organization – something group leaders are looking for. Advertise the event as a ‘major, can’t – miss event.’
8. Publicize via Social Media and Your Website
At least six months prior to the event, create and publicize these events through social media channels and on the events page of your DZ website.
9. Pick Up The Phone – Make contact and request a meeting with the outdoor adventure program leaders. Getting on a first name basis with these folks is a great idea as once they see you run a professional organization, they may put your College Weekend on to their events calendar every year. In the example below, Western Carolina University has had College Weekend on their autumn events calendar every year since 2006.
10. Contact a Military Recruiting Office
Though you are offering your students a discount, be sure to explore opportunities with the recruiting office of a military branch. Recruiters will typically jump at the opportunity to speak with college students who haven’t decided on a lifelong career and who are willing to jump out of airplanes. Be sure to charge the recruiting office ‘exhibition space’ to be present at the event. Our College Weekends resulted in the presence of the US Army Golden Knights, an Army rock band, a laser shooting range, climbing wall, a Hummer H3 with plasma screen to play tandem videos, and Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s) which were disbursed to all the students. (Students love free food…even if it’s an MRE).
Creating these events take time and effort, but the reward is great with tandem-filled weekends that impact the bottom line. The only time consuming point is creating the database. Once the list is created, you’re on your way to impacting the bottom line HUGELY.