Event 360: Airbnb and Be:Fit London promote a flexible approach to events

Kolze-Jones said it was important to be nimble and reactive
Kolze-Jones said it was important to be nimble and reactive

Airbnb and Be:Fit London both spoke about being flexible in their approach to events and experiential marketing at yesterday's Event 360 forum (25 May).

Gareth Kolze-Jones, EMEA social media manager, brand writer at Airbnb and Leigh Fergus, festival & brand manager, Be:Fit London, Telegraph Media Group, told delegates about their experiential marketing strategies, and how they have developed them to widen the brand conversation.

Fergus has changed Be:Fit’s focus on being an annual event to creating different types of events on a monthly basis. "We were good at doing one-off events, but we wanted to make it more of a year round conversation," she said.

With only a small team and a budget of less than £1k, Fergus explained how she created a monthly plan of activations which included an online support platform for women keen to get fit and healthy, the creation of a light installation in the Lights of Soho Gallery, a running club and supper clubs.

"We didn’t want to keep repeating ourselves...we wanted to do something a bit different," she said. Following the activity, the brand achieved an increase in Instragram followers of 300%, 69% on Facebook and 56% on Twitter, during the period from November 2015 to May 2016. "You can really extend an event if you just do a bit of work on it," Fergus added.

Kolze-Jones’ mission was to increase brand awareness about not just who Airbnb is, but about what it does.

Its treehouses were its most popular listing on social media, therefore Kolze-Jones asked how the brand could take the love of the quirky and bring it to life. Examples of its activations include a floating house down the Thames, the chance to win a night in Waterstones  - inspired by the US man who got trapped in a store overnight - and a night in a shark tank.

"A a child you dream of having a sleepover somewhere cool… basically that’s what we’ve tried to do for adults," he said.

Kolze-Jones added that although a conversation or idea may begin on social channels, it doesn’t have to stay there. Taking its Waterstones sleepover idea, he said this all started with the social conversation about the trapped man, and Airbnb tweeting Waterstones that maybe it should actually offer someone the chance to do it for real - which is exactly what it did.

He said the two main lessons he has learned is the need to be nimble and reactive. "Social can lead onto experiential and back round again."

Event 360 is hosted by Event and sister-title C&IT.

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