10 Years of Tripping the Light Fantastic - Volpa
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10 Years of Tripping the Light Fantastic

Volpa, one of Scotland’s top independent marketing agencies, is celebrating ten successful years at the helm of marketing The Enchanted Forest, now known as Scotland’s premier sound and light event.

The agency has been instrumental in transforming the one-time small Perthshire event into the top attraction it is today. The event, which runs from 28 September to 29 October this year, is completely sold out for the first time in its history, with ticket sales topping 73,000. Specialists in the tourism, hospitality and food and drink sectors, Volpa uses its full range of services to publicise the Enchanted Forest including public relations, marketing, digital and creative.

When Volpa first took over in 2008, the event was relatively small and had very little profile. Most of the media coverage it received was “hyper-local” i.e within the vicinity of the locale of the event. It had won no awards. Since 2008, the marketing budget has remained largely the same. Volpa has had to be very clever about using PR to “move the needle”.

Strategy
Volpa’s PR strategy has evolved over the years, but largely it has been in response to changes in the event and is predominantly about driving and increasing the event’s profile. This year, in particular, PR messaging has been focused on managing expectations that the event would sell out before it opened. The company’s predictive modelling suggested this would be the case. Volpa began messaging in July – as soon as tickets went on public sale.

Tactics
Key PR tools used have been:

  • Establishing a press night for the event (there wasn’t one before we started)
  • Establishing an expectation that the press night will also be an exclusive preview night for members of the public who participate in various print and digital competitions
  • Establishing relationships with key national media and driving coverage in both print and digital editions
  • Establishing a relationship with Visit Scotland and managing that relationship to drive international coverage for the event
  • Entering award schemes as a profile raiser and expanding the geographical boundaries of those awards as we continued to win

Results
Gradually, over time, the event’s profile has gone from being a Perthshire event, to a Scottish event, to being one of the UK’s leading cultural events. It is now comfortably and frequently referenced as a “place to visit” in coverage around the globe. Using PR has enabled the event to punch well above its weight in driving profile.

Coverage of the event spans the globe with television crews coming from all over the world to cover it. A mark of success is when Volpa’s client gets on a flight and happens to read about the event in the in-flight magazine. The event has been featured in Visit Scotland’s international advertising campaign. Coverage has appeared in publications around the world, including Canada’s Globe and Mail and online for publications in Germany and the Netherlands. An article appeared in the Trivago and Group Leisure publication and on their website, which has been instrumental in driving coach business to the event. The Enchanted Forest now gets around 6% of bookings from coach tour operators alone.

As a result of this activity, international visitors have grown from 0.97% of audience share in 2014 to 2.72% of audience share in 2017. Growth of audience outside Scotland has grown from 5.17% to 8.24% in the same period. International audiences are growing faster as a segment.

The shift in ticket sales has undoubtedly come as a result of a growth in “word of mouth”. In 2008, word of mouth drove 37% of ticket sales (in real terms 6300 tickets), in 2017 it has driven 49% (35,525 tickets). That’s a 463% increase in tickets sold due to word of mouth – against only a 33% increase in actual budget.

As predicted, this year’s event sold out four hours before opening night. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. More than 10,000 people have signed up to receive early notification of tickets on sale for 2018.