event market

Take on the Event and Tourism Market

Kristine Shreve is the Director of Marketing for EnMart and parent company Ensign Emblem. She developed and writes two blogs—the EnMart Threaducuate blog and the SubliStuff blog. Shreve also maintains the EnMart Twitter account and Facebook page. She can be reached via email at kristine.shreve@myenmart.com

When considering tourist attraction or souvenir work,  most small businesses probably think there’s a big business somewhere that’s making the T-shirts and mugs and mousepads and other personalized souvenirs that the attractions are selling. In some cases, you may be right.   When it comes to big organizations,  like Disneyland,  their souvenir production is often built right in to running the park and is just another profit center. For small and medium-size attractions, however,  the business might just go to whoever asks for it. Why shouldn’t that be you?

If you counted all the tourist attractions in the United States, from the small, roadside ones all the way up to the state zoos, you’d probably discover there are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands in existence.  Just looking at the area where EnMart is located,  I can point to several tourist attractions as well as breweries and restaurants. There are also events like music festivals, the National Cherry Festival, and wine and food tastings that could definitely use souvenir items. The possibilities are almost endless.

There are many ways to go about approaching an attraction or festival and asking who’s doing their work and if you could make a bid, but here are a few tips that might help you get started.

  • Attend the event in question before you contact anyone to make a pitch. Get a feel for the event, the crowd and what sort of items work well in that environment. A craft beer and music festival might have a need for custom T-shirts or specialty mugs. Knowing the event helps in figuring out what to sell and how to make your pitch. No one likes to be sold stuff they don’t need or doesn’t suit the vibe of their event.
  • Once you’ve been to the event, brainstorm ideas for products you could make. Take into account the nature of the event and how existing souvenir products are sold. Try to get some sense of budget. In most cases, a smaller event has a smaller budget. Ticket or admission prices are one clue to a possible budget. The number of people attending may be another. Obviously,  you won’t know the budget for sure until you actually talk to the event management,  but working within a supposed budget helps brings applicable ideas to the table. 
  • Schedule a meeting with event management. Check out the event website to find out the right person to contact. Don’t send a "to whom it may concern" e-mail or call someone randomly. Avoid sending any unsolicited items to show off what you can do. The goal at this point is to get a meeting. Sending items that weren’t requested could turn into wasted work for you and a waste of time for those you’re trying to impress.
  • Once you have a meeting, create some sample items. Make your own version of items you saw at the event with a few tweaks to make them a little more attractive. Events carry what they know sells, so there’s no harm in showing you paid attention to what's already on their shelves. 
  • The other half of your product samples should be new and different items you see doing well at the festival. For these items, make sure you can explain why you chose the item and why you think it would sell well at that particular venue. This is another chance to let the event management know that you’ve researched the event and took it into account when creating the samples.