Home TypeNews Can the events industry save the British High Street?

Can the events industry save the British High Street?

by EN

Last Christmas, I gave up my heart….and tried a bit of online shopping.

I’m not a fan generally, but this was for Christmas trees which have always been problematical for getting home, and more so these days as our order is four trees of 6-8ft and one 15-16ft. That is a different, and longer, story.

I didn’t get quite what I wanted but it was close enough to warrant another go this year.

The same order went into the same place in mid-November to arrive this weekend just gone, which was pretty organised of me (well, Dan Edwards) but that didn’t count for much.

Two trees didn’t arrive, the others came at the wrong time and the driver tried to convince me that 9ft was really 15ft when stood up. The result was a royal pain and all plans skewed, but what are my options? Another supplier would take ages and may not have the stock, which means I’m over a barrel.

So, it’s a lukewarm apology and a re-scheduled drop for later this week. I took it on the chin and realised why shopping for anything with this lack of control is a lottery, which can easily turn into a rotten experience.

Anecdotally, online shopping seems to be full of tales of this nature, which should push consumers towards alternative options, so then why is the high street failing, indeed falling apart?

Councillors, when interviewed on TV, look distraught and clueless, resigned to their fate, saying that the continued demise of the High Street is inevitable; but is it?

Enter, the events industry.

Let’s analyse the problem again: councils need to draw crowds of buyers to a centralised venue, so we need:

  • Visitor promotion
  • Content
  • Features
  • Joined up exhibitor (shops) promotion
  • Crowd control
  • Visitor flow
  • Marshalling, health and safety etc.

Once again, I could go on, but you get the idea. The events industry can do this with its eyes closed, so let us do it and regenerate High Streets up and down the land.

Mash Media’s hometown of Kingston-upon-Thames (pictured), in South West London, buzzes at this time of year because the council makes a real effort and it pays off with footfall. They have live music in the square, a Christmas market, mulled wine and pop up bars. Every day is an event, but they don’t appear to learn from that and allow the virtual tumbleweed to blow through the streets for the rest of the year.

Any event organiser would be able to create a mini themed event every week in their town given the opportunity

Shopping needs to be a valued experience for the end user, so retailers need to play part as well. Shops should be thinking about in-house demonstrations, learning, giveaways and exceptional customer service for example, we can still deliver it, but you have picked out your item and that’s what turns up at your house, this evening.

Jo Malone is a very good example of a pro-active retailer, offering hand massages in a certain balm for customers.  Why do I know this? Because half of my staff talk about it and have experienced it.

Simple stuff for anyone with an event organising brain.

Of course, online shopping is here to stay but people crave experiences and as the shackles are gradually lifted in 2021, there is a real opportunity as everyone will be desperate to get out and about. What will the High Street to hang on to them?

Event organisers should be approaching local government to pitch their unique skills in helping to revive the towns and generate much needed income for retailers, which in turn contributes to the council funds.

It can be a labyrinth in terms of finding the right person, but we at Mash Media are practising what we preach. We have already successfully pitched Kingston Borough Council and we are running a small event for one department; this is not the end game, but it is a foot in the door. If we can do it, everyone can, so while we can’t run events, hunt down the councils.

The events industry could be the answer to the retail problem and give them their wish that it could be Christmas every day.

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