The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) has concluded its 102rd running of the Indianapolis 500. The fans are gone, and the team trucks have moved on to the next stop on the IndyCar circuit. For IMS though, they’ve been able to fill their yearly calendar with a number of events including the Month of May, NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 and a Red Bull Air Race.
Large event venues (especially in motorsports) work all year to put on one or two major events while their speedway or other venue sits empty the other 300+ days a year. While their big events are the reason for their respective venues’ existence, how can these properties drive interest in their venue year-round in their community?
As a venue operator, community engagement is incredibly important. If your 2-mile speedway sits in a residential area and packs thousands upon thousands of fans into it every year, your neighbors and city need to see the value your venue provides. At the same time, if you engage the community throughout the year, you’ll be able to introduce more people to your venue or race track that may not typically attend your big event.
So how can you bring people to your venue, even in your offseason? Here some ideas and a few great events we’ve seen.
Community events: Is a group looking to put on a 5k fun run? Invite them to the track. How about your local beer or wine festival? Watkins Glen International features one of each throughout the summer. Simple events like these can help grow your presence in your community.
Think outside the track: How about we get a little creative? Each year, Pocono Raceway hosts the Pocono Lantern Festival, featuring live music, food and a lantern release, at the same place where IndyCar and NASCAR go 200mph around the triangle speedway. It’s unique and draws a large crowd after Pocono Raceway has finished their racing season.
Let’s get festive: Light displays around the holidays seem to be all the rage among motorsports properties, with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Gateway Motorsports Park and Circuit of the Americas starting displays in recent years (among others). These properties are able to build awareness of their venue in their offseason and offer their communities a fun family holiday experience. Win-win.
Concerts: Millennials have been known to value experiences over physical goods, and concerts always seem to be at the top of the list. Michigan International Speedway (MIS) noticed the trend a few years ago and now hosts the Faster Horses country music festival. Starting in 2013, MIS has invited thousands of music fans to the speedway for the annual three-day festival.
This is far from an all-encompassing list, so what other unique ideas have you seen excel at large venues? How do you create year-round interest at your venue? Let me know on Twitter, @KGinty.
When it comes to thinking about events at your own venue, get started by downloading our experiential marketing trends eBook!