3 Keys to Help Fuel Successful Drive-in Events

October 22, 2021

Adrian Si

Adrian Si is the director of marketing strategy at ASV, an event and experiential marketing outfit based in Torrance, Calif.

Live event production is still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Event professionals have had to explore other kinds of touchpoints since 2020. One such option has been drive-in events, providing a unique, convenient and memorable way to engage attendees from the safety and comfort of their own car.  

Creating a safe and successful drive-in event during a pandemic is not the easiest thing to do. These three strategies can ensure your drive-in event is a smooth ride.

1. Plan around local guidelines and regulations. 

Be aware of local COVID-19 policies and plan accordingly. The last thing you want is to show up on the day of the event and realize you are violating regional ordinances. 

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has no specific limit for how many people can attend these events, the venue might, whether you are gathering in a parking lot, field or other outdoor area. Rather than focusing on the sheer number of people attending, shift your focus to how you will reduce the risk for attendees and event staff by limiting person-to-person contact and making sure cars are socially distanced.

Drive-in events can feature experiential marketing activations that attendees can enjoy while maintaining social distance. You can make the most of open-air areas to ensure each car is in its own event space and not violating local ordinances.

2. Tailor messaging to your target audience. 

You have data on your audience; now is the time to use it. Align your message with your audience’s behaviors and preferred mediums to help heighten brand awareness.

For example, a drive-in experience can align its event around a featured movie. That film can be paired with a specific engagement point (e.g., a meal, a band, a trivia game, etc.) with messaging that entices attendees. You can also tailor an entire presentation to be shown on a giant movie screen with audio coming in via FM radio frequency, for example.

Pre-event communication is paramount to a successful activation—especially now. Your messaging should maintain a regular cadence and provide attendees with detailed, easy-to-understand information about your activation, COVID-19 protocols and what they can expect during the event. 

3. Think things through from start to finish. 

The attendee journey does not start and end at your experiential event. Focus on every aspect of your contact with attendees rather than just what happens at your event. 

Consider what attendees hope to get from their experience. Figure out your objective for the event, using that information to determine how the event can get your brand or message to that destination. Once those items come into focus, build your event around the intersection between the two. 

Drive-in events are one of the more innovative ways to engage audience members with a branded experience. These strategies can help you make a stellar impression on your attendees and provide them with an experience they will not soon forget.

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