A fully engaged auditorium of entertainment executives, artistes, event promoters, tourism stakeholders, corporate sponsors and tourism executives benefitted from a master class on ‘How to make your event Sellable’ during the Jamaica Tourist Board’s (JTB) recent Destination Jamaica Events Seminar.
“Events are good for Jamaica and Jamaica is good for events!” Director of Tourism, Donovan White said as he welcomed the audience.
“We at the Jamaica Tourist Board are keenly aware of the relevance and impact of events to: position destination Jamaica; build brand awareness; attract global media attention; build markets and ultimately attract visitors,” he added.
This set the stage for what would be a very enriching experience for attendees who participated in the hybrid seminar held at the Courtleigh Auditorium on October 6.
Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett was in full support of the session as a tangible investment in the entertainment sector.
“Wherever I travel persons are always asking me what’s new and what’s special in Jamaica. Our events must therefore revolve around what’s new, what’s special and what’s different,” he said.
“It can be the same event, but there has to be newness and freshness – elements of intrigue that pique the interest of visitors. As event entrepreneurs and event planners you are to build products that are relevant, attractive, appropriate, desirable and affordable,” the minister explained.
As presenters noted, each destination needs hallmark events to provide high levels of media exposure and positive imagery to help create competitive advantages. Especially since the pandemic, travellers are demanding authentic experiences. For Philip Rose, JTB’s Deputy Director of Tourism – The America’s, it is imperative for event planners to listen to the audience.
“International audiences are telling us they want authenticity – it is the key thing that is driving events globally. However, too often we plan events through our perspective without thinking about every possibility. Plan with local and international audiences in mind,” he advised.
A key segment of the day’s event focussed on ‘What Does Your Corporate Sponsor Want From You.’ Stefano Furini, Marketing Director Jamaica and the Caribbean, J Wray & Nephew Limited did a deep dive into the essentials for planners to know in order to get attention and sponsorship commitment.
“Sponsorship is an opportunity to create an experience for the people. A successful event for us is hosting the right target and the right people, the right occasion with the right brand with a relevant message. In the end it is the combination of all of us defining what is the best package to make the event successful and memorable for the people,” he said.
The testimonials and experiences of events promoters were critical in demonstrating that it is possible to host a successful event with global appeal. Justine Henzell, Co-Founder of Calabash Literary Festival, held in Treasure Beach, spoke about being creative with each iteration of an event.
“You make it sexy; you make it fun. We take the same event and make it new every time. When we talk about events, we have to appreciate that niche events like a literary festival is going to attract a different kind of visitor and a different kind of exposure. We need it all, we need the big ones, but we need the little ones. This gives the destination diversity,” she said.
When asked about community involvement in the longevity and success of their events, Henzell noted, “All the events we host are driven by community involvement. People in the community value tourism because they are reaping the benefits of it on a daily basis.”
Scott Dunn, Managing Director, Dream Entertainment Limited also had tips to share.
“Data is important to sponsors, ensure you do the work and provide accurate data on what metrics matters to your prospective sponsor. Demonstrate the economic impact of your event on other sectors such as accommodation, transportation, restaurants and attractions and ways in which your event increases arrivals to the destination,” he urged.
As the organization that markets destination Jamaica, events are major tactics used by the JTB to attract visitors to the island. As an imperative, Cindy Lightbourne, Attorney at Law and Chairman, Jamaica Tourist Board’s Events Sub-Committee provided a very thorough discourse on the key requirements that must be met for JTB’s sponsorship or endorsement of an event.
“The JTB’s money as it relates to events can only be used for marketing purposes. It cannot be used to book your location, it cannot be used for anything else other than marketing expenditure,” she clarified.
As it relates to the JTB mandate, she further explained, in requesting marketing support for an event, “you have to prove two things; one, how are your bringing heads to bed – is your event going to cause someone to travel to the island to attend. Second, what is the international media exposure you will get from that event.”
This comes against the background that there have many misconceptions regarding the requirements and processes necessary to qualify for JTB support.
The sentiments were resounding, in appreciation for the seminar as attendees believed the timing and expertise shared were invaluable. L’Antointte Stines, Artistic Director of L’Acadco was happy that she attended and thanked the JTB for the opportunity.
‘I have benefitted from sponsorship but many people are timid to approach the JTB for sponsorship. Today helped us to better understand the processes,” she said.
YouTuber Irina Bruce, owner of Jamaica with Irie, an advocate of destination Jamaica, was very grateful for the knowledge shared and is looking forward to future seminars.
This was the second time the JTB was staging the event. Stakeholders left with an understanding of the role of the JTB in providing sponsorship and or endorsement for an event; the process required to obtain JTB’s sponsorship; the sharing of best practices by successful event planners and sponsors and the creation of a curated space for networking.