Experiential Events in Multiple Locations

How to make your budget go further...

So what should you take into consideration when planning your activation? And how do you keep costs at a reasonable level, whilst making sure the experience remains a high quality one? 

Done well, experiential activity builds relationships between brands and their audiences like no other marketing channel. It facilitates such a unique opportunity to build relationships and drive product trial face-to-face in a physical environment tailored to your audience. But that audience isn’t always in one place, and sometimes you need to travel to multiple locations to reach them.

Yet the implications – both financially and logistically – of taking a brand experience on the road are regularly underestimated, often leading to poor quality activations which end up doing more harm than good to the brand/audience relationship. So here are a few things to consider before you hit the road…

Temporary structure or mobile unit?

It’s simple – the more locations you intend to visit, the more appropriate and cost-effective a travelling unit becomes. Mobile vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, and most are easily customisable to fit your requirements. Plus they’re built to travel, so portability isn’t an issue.

The key advantage of a temporary structure is the sheer range of options out there in terms of look and feel, functionality, size etc. – both off-the-shelf and custom-built. The downside is that they typically take longer to set up and de-rig, and cost more to store when not being used. So the larger your structure, and the more locations you visit, the more your staffing and storage costs will swell.

Make sure it's simple and quick to set up.

As mentioned above, the time spent setting up and de-rigging an experiential activation can be the difference between a cost-effective and a cost-intensive campaign. So it’s understandably crucial that the process is simple and takes as little time as possible. Mobile units are typically quick and easy to set up – even more so once your team gets used to the process. Temporary structures adhere to common sense; the bigger they are, the more costly and time-consuming they become to put together and take down. Therefore unless your structure is small and agile, then be prepared to commit extra time and budget to your activation.

Think about storage.

It’s likely that your experience will spend more time out of use than in action, especially if, for example, you’re touring throughout the summer as many brands choose to do. You may find that some locations you visit have a different size footprint, so some elements may not be needed for every instance. So you’ll need to factor in the cost of storage. 

In our experience, a mobile unit is easier and more cost-effective to place in storage than a structure – again, think about the time spent unloading and reloading pieces of equipment. Plus the fact that a mobile unit can be parked in a secure location, whereas for a structure you’ll need to hire storage space which can often be more costly. Either way, bear in mind that this will be a cost you’ll have to bear.

Consider what it looks like on the road.

Don’t just think of each location you’re heading to as the only chance to engage your audience. Travelling from place to place can generate exposure in itself, especially if you’re doing so in a mobile unit wrapped in your branding. If you’re transporting your structure in a vehicle, think carefully about what that vehicle could be with one eye on your brand and what will fit best. Can you find an existing one that works? Or could you brand up a standard truck/support vehicle?

Plan from the start!

Creating a touring experience needs a very defined way of thinking when you start to approach how it will work from a logistical point of view and what the cost implications will be. We’ve been on the receiving end of many briefs which ask for outline costs and scope of work, following which the client has completely baulked at the realisation of what it takes to manage setting up, staffing, de-rigging, transporting, storing and repeating this process multiple times in different places. You need to be realistic – the biggest cost will probably be staffing. You need people. How many? Where will they stay? What will they eat? And how will you manage their workload in order to make your campaign achieve its objectives on-budget?

As long as you know this, and plan for it, then there are no surprises.

Take a creative approach.

It’s very easy to go for the safe option with this kind of experience, especially if you’re trying to keep everything simple and straightforward to set up/transport. But your brand still needs to stand out, so try to think a little differently.

When we took HTC handsets around Europe’s cycling races in support of Team HTC-Columbia, it would have been quite simple to create a nice showroom inside our standard truck and trailer. But instead we inserted three official Team HTC-Columbia race bikes hooked up to generators. Race-goers not only had the unique experience of pedalling the same bikes as their idols, but discovered just how little energy HTC’s handsets take to charge, trialling the phones at the same time.

We’ve successfully delivered many other touring activations for brands such as Arsenal FC, Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum, T-Mobile and the NBA. In several cases, it was the first time the brand had embarked on such activity. Through constructive collaboration and constant dialogue, we were able to take them through each stage of the process carefully and openly, resulting in each one being delivered on time, on-budget and with great success.


- Guy Tremlett
Creative Director, SET LIVE