When you think of an event, often the first thing that comes to mind is being trapped inside a bland room with uncomfortable chairs for hours on end.

However, that doesn’t always have to be the case (especially in the beautiful island of Sri Lanka). Make time out of your office time, spent outside getting a breath of fresh air and some vitamin D.

Focus on how to make the most of the great outdoors so every one of your event attendees can enjoy it — whether it’s a smaller event or even a wedding…

Planning Guidelines

Do not ignore the small stuff –

  • Lighting — will it add to the mood of the event? Do you need it? What kind of lighting is best — LED, pinpoint or overhead? Work with your venue’s A/V specialist to discuss options.
  • Sound — do you need microphones and a sound system? Remember that sound travels over longer ranges outside, so a sound system may not be necessary.
  • Seating — Will a few high-top tables with minimal seating work or do you need more? The rule of thumb is: For an event lasting longer than two hours, you need to provide seating for all. However, it depends on the physical needs and age of the attendees.
  • Linens — do you need them? If the tables are in great shape, there’s no need for them. However, if the tables and legs need a makeover, linens are good options.
  • Centerpieces — do you want them? LED candles for an evening event can provide a creative component to the table setting.

Give attendees an outdoor goody bag – Include in the bag a pair of sunglasses, notepad/pen, Citronella spray, etc. Many attendees will be thankful for the gift, and it will be a great post-event reminder.

Provide shade for a daytime function – Strategically placed umbrellas and tables near a set of trees and/or providing a tent are all good options. Remember, it’s usually cooler in the shade J

Keep bugs under control – An outdoor event can draw all kinds of insects, from bees to mosquitoes. Ensure the venue is swept two to three days before for nests and then spray for mosquitoes 12, 8 and 4 hours before the event.

Select technology carefully – Outdoor events may or may not require the same technology as indoor functions. Check on the projector, whether mobile technology can easily be viewed in direct sunlight and make certain all A/V cords are secured to the ground and/or hidden out of sight. Lastly, make sure the WiFi works effectively outside.

Hound the food and beverage manager – You want your food to be at the right temperature to avoid any food poisoning issues. In addition, if you serve hot (temperature) dishes, be sure to plate them right away. For appetizers, have the waiters serve them butler style.

Have a Plan B and C – Let’s face it: Something can go wrong. It may be too hot, rainy or windy. Have enough indoor capacity for attendees to comfortably fit inside.

Plan B is executed when you have to move inside while a quick storm comes through for 15 to 30 minutes, while Plan C is for when the rain is coming all day.

Each case requires different space and seating requirements, so be prepared in the event of either.

Benefits of Outdoor Events

  • Fresh Air and Sunshine – Nothing excites or rejuvenates a team like getting outside from the four walls of a conference hall. In addition, statistics will tell you that, 15 to 20 minutes of sunshine fights depression and can fight off illness.
  • Team Building – Most team-building activities occur outside, where space constraints are gone. Whether it be a short-ropes course or participating in ice-breaking activities that makes attendees laugh, this activity can build trust and boost morale.
  • Unique Dining Options – Whether you have boxed lunches, a family-style picnic or something else, being outside allows for more creative, season-based dining options.

Think through the weddings and special events you have attended throughout your life.

Can you really remember many of the details? Odds are good that if you have been to more than a few, they all sort of run together in your mind.

That’s because most special events are very similar in terms of venue and basic theme.

If you want to stand out from the crowd and create a night to remember, it would be hard to go wrong with an outdoor event.

Just the act of moving it outdoors sets it apart as something special, and any layers you add in terms of theming or decor will only enhance the effect.

Outdoor Advertising

Out-of-home advertising is a favourite of Gen Y and Gen Z audiences. Surprised? We don’t blame you. You’d expect this tech-savvy generation to ignore traditional advertising mediums, seeing as the digital world takes up most of their time. However, as a recent study points out, their ad preferences do not reflect their habits.

“Gen Z Use Online But Prefer OOH (Out-of-Home).” This is a generation of people who’ve basically had Facebook and Instagram profiles all their life. They consider their Smartphones a lifeline and an extension of themselves.

So why do these smartphone-wielding youngins prefer traditional media channels over online advertising? The answer is obvious when you examine their relationship with the online world. They consider their online activity personal and like to be in control of what they see and who they interact with.

The Streamers and On-Demand Consumers

Advertising  has never been something that they have always been exposed to. They are able to choose the content they consume across different channels. They don’t need a newspaper to get the news. They don’t wait for their favourite song to come on the radio. And they certainly don’t wait one week to watch the next episode of a TV show.

Today, the most popular TV shows and podcasts are available on demand (Netflix). These audiences are not used to the commercial-breaks that dominate their TV time.

The Ad-Blockers

Channels that do push advertising with their content – YouTube, Facebook, and major websites –  are commonly accessed using ad-blocking software. Gen Z are the heaviest users. 70% of them skip ads – vs 66% of Gen Y and 62% of Gen X.

These stats alone show that users do not feel brands belong in their online activities. This is a major reason for the increasing popularity of influencer marketing. Influencers allow brands to cut through the advertising clutter. They are less pushy and don’t seem forced onto the audience.

On the Plus Side, This Group is More Connected and Always On the Move

The above study also shows that Out-of-Home advertising holds a unique position with this younger audience. Importantly, the study noted that billboards are not “perceived as being invasive in people’s lives, their activities or the content that they are exploring.”

It is interesting how famous tech brands and budding tech start-ups alike now consider outdoor advertising core to their marketing plans. They understand that, while Gen Y and Gen Z audiences are heavy users of their online services, they don’t want to have to go through a slew of ads to get to that stage.

Outdoor advertising is not only trusted more than online mediums such as banner ads, search results, and ads on social networks; it drives more brand engagement actions, with 56% trusting the medium and 58% taking action, according to a global digital media study.

An interesting observation is that millennials, steeped in digital media like no other generation, are actually less cynical of traditional advertising formats. Trust in OOH (56%) is actually higher than trust in online video ads (46%) and paid online ads (48%).

Millennials at the mall are aspirational and image-conscious, and the modern shopping center is artfully designed to maximize marketing exposure. Find out more in our recent post on effective mall advertising.

Millennials are tech savvy and respond well to integrated campaigns. Despite this, traditional mediums such as OOH have a strong appeal and are often more effective at driving brand engagement and influencing purchasing decisions.

Often portrayed as flighty and fussy; Millennials are in fact the most brand-loyal generation. But brands have to put in real work to win that loyalty, with millennials looking for substance and for brands that speak to them in a genuine way and that offer real value, be it deals, quality products, or unique perspectives.

Why settle for a run of the mill event when you can create something truly magical?

Try and keep your next event outdoors – It might be the secret ingredient to a successful event!