Rob Casey is the owner of SUP school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle, co-founder for the PSUPA and is the author of two paddling guides.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Paddling Festival Event & Booth Tips

Is your company having a booth/tent at an upcoming paddle or outdoor festival?  Here's some tips to be better prepared...

Using a pop-up tent?
- Bring cinder blocks or large sized sand bags to secure all four corners down.  Wrap paddle rack straps around each pole from top to bottom then attach to your weight. Heavier is better.  Plastic paint buckets are good too.  Rope can be used to tie the tent down on all four corners to logs or rocks.  One rep I know brings a sledge hammer and 3' metal stakes to secure the tent to the ground.  We lost a tent once in gale force winds..

- Get a tent with your logo printed on several sides and top. Or print up banners to attach on.

- Bring small weights or use rocks to keep brochures from blowing around.

- Bring a variety of clothing if the weather gets cold or varies throughout the day.

- Bring cash for the festival food options or bring your own including hydration.

- Arrive early to get the best location for your tent for most exposure (or inquire prior to event day).

Doing On-Water Demos?
- Is the festival covering customer insurance?  If not get liability forms for everyone to sign.

- Limit on-water demos to 10-15min.  We've had to chase folks down to get them back to shore.

- Bring vest style PFDs, leashes and paddles for demo use.  If it's a big event bring different sizes of PFDs and paddles (or adjustables). Partner with other companies to show off their gear!  Make sure everyone has a PFD on.  I had a person last Spring who fell in and started yelling "I can't swim!" Apparently she lied on the liability form about knowing how to swim.  Sh.. happens, be ready for anything.

- Have a demo fleet always ready for festivals.  These should be new or almost new boards.  Don't bring your beaters as buyers will be looking at everything including the exterior.

- Be ready to give customers a mini SUP lesson so be ready with rubber boots, booties or sandals to help folks get on the water.  Never assume they know how to paddle.

- Do you have a safety plan in case there's an accident?  Does the event have an EMT available?  Can you get to a person struggling on-water?  Can you do a flip rescue and have a method of getting them back to shore quickly?

- Take breaks throughout the day and/or hire others to help out. During busy events we'd have one person in the tent talking to attendees and 1-2 putting people on the water.  If you hire folks to assist, makes sure they know your products and are safe paddlers.

- Print up several hundred business cards and/or rack card / brochures to hand out.

- Promote your booth # and festival location prior to event. Create an event Facebook page to promote you presence at the festival.  Keep the page updated with updates and photos and invite your friends.

- Get the emails for those interested in your products/services.

- Follow up after the event to festival attendees who like your products or services.

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