Event Marketing: Catersource
Post is for educational purposes only.
Catersource is a magazine, conference, and tradeshow centered around the catering industry. The company hosts an annual national conference March 8-11, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. In order to generate buzz and attention about the conference, encourage attendees, and continue the brand conversation, Catersource utilized social media for pre-, during, and post-event marketing.
Catersource’s web page currently links to social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram as part of their IMC to get the information pushed out to followers of the brand. On the website, there are links to sign-up for e-newsletters, request consulting, create accounts and contact forms to reach Catersource personnel.
“The 2015 Catersource and Event Solutions Conference & Tradeshow returns to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, March 8-11, 2015, for another impactful, business-building event! This year, Catersource proudly offers even more excitement than before with a new workshop room to allow for brainstorming and collaboration on real-life topics, enhanced contests, activities and more. This Conference is designed to help you take home tangible business ideas and inspiration across a wide variety of topics, allowing you and your team to innovate, network, experience and discover the best the catering and events industry has to offer.
Don’t miss this exciting event in Las Vegas–– register your team today!”
For this event Catersource created an intensive and detailed website page devoted to the event, mentions and links on the landing page, and pushed content about the conference through e-newsletter sign-up and content e-blasts.
Announcements for the conference began on/around October 2, 2014, 5 months prior to the event. Catersource launched their conference campaign by updating their cover photo on Facebook, sending out the first tweet referencing #CSES2015, and by posting information and links to their web page and social media channels.
For months prior to the conference, Catersource posted photos, texts, links and tweets on social media sites and the organization’s website to help promote the event. From my observation, Catersource focused heavily/primarily on Facebook, and Twitter. Almost every post/tweet after October referenced the #CSES2015 on those two social media platforms. Registration for the event was the dominate message.
Oddly, Catersource didn’t seem to utilize several social media platforms that they have profiles with. Google+ had only a few posts/videos, Instagram had a few holiday giveaway mentions in December but didn’t seem to mention the conference again until the day they arrived to setup…
Pinterest didn’t have any references at all from Catersource, although there was a pin from a user about the conference, and YouTube had only one video referring to the 2015 event:
Facebook and Twitter, on the other hand, were inundated with informative and engaging posts. While most of the post were reminders or encouragement for attendees to register for the event, some of the posts prior to the conference included photos of table settings, reminders of early bird discounts, contest promotions and a video of one of the guest speakers who presented at the conference. Catersource also created an app for the conference and announced it on their social media accounts.
During the conference, Catersource posted photos, and text on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Some of their content included photos of different sessions and events at the conference, information about when keynote speakers were speaking and when individual meetings were taking place. The posts during the event informed people at the conference of different things that were happening around them, and they informed those who weren’t able to attend what they were missing out on.
As of today, Catersource, has only followed up the event with a thank you tweet.
Catersource has 3765 followers on Twitter, and 5592 fans on Facebook. The organization’s Facebook page seemed to get the most engagement throughout the conference. The post that seemed to garner the most engagement was a Facebook post on encouraging registrants not to miss the early bird special. This post received 117 likes.
Catersource included #CSES2015 in all their social media posts. By creating hashtags for the event, they helped with event branding and allowed attendees to converse.
Throughout the event, Catersource would retweet the content participants were posting about the event. By posting attendees content, the organization gave all attendees an incentive to write about their experiences at the conference. The retweets also showed what a great time people were having at the conference and how beneficial the conference is for attendees.
Catersource posted one tweet on social media thanking sponsors after the event had concluded, but I was unable to find many other social media posts talking about the sponsors. Mentioning more about individual supporters on social media would have been an excellent way to foster stronger relationship with sponsors and it would have offered more insight to the conference itself. By giving sponsors free publicity, sponsors would be more inclined to support the event in the future.
Catersource did a good job of integrating their marketing efforts across social media, Twitter and Facebook, and their other marketing platforms such as the website, magazine, and e-newsletter. The event’s marketers also did a thorough job of keeping the branding image of the company and event consistent throughout the event and across channels. Similar images were used across channels, posts / tweets were written with similar language and tone, and the same message was received no matter what channel you were viewing. Catersource did vary the message used on Twitter from the messages posted on Facebook, utilizing both platforms for their strengths instead of posting the EXACT same message on both.
The social media post that stood out the most for me was the YouTube video, Facebook, and Twitter post about Marcus Cooks speaking. Highlighting a celebrity speaker not only catches people’s attention,but also makes people want to attend the event in the future.
There were several areas of Catersource’s event marketing that I thought they could improve. To have a better IMC strategy, Catersource could have posted more content about the conference on their other social media profiles, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube were all under-utilized in my opinion. After the event, a recap video could have been posted or a slideshow of pictures from the event. You could collage all the Instagram pictures uploaded or do a mash-up of the tweets tweeted by attendees during the conference.