As I watched Tiger Woods sink his putt on Sunday to win the British Open, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the Porta Potties on the golf course at St. Andrews in Scotland had pretty toilet paper and delicate hand towels.
I doubt it. But every time I watch golf on TV, I’m curious about what the Porta Potties along the course look like. That’s because one of my very favorite stories is how the Women’s Golf Association in Wisconsin decked out its Porta Potties several years ago during a women’s golf tournament. The hosts equipped every Porta Potty on the course with pretty toilet paper, scented candles, decorative soaps, cloth hand towels and fresh flowers.
My friend Deb Schmidt, who attended the outing, said she and other women golfers were so impressed that the Porta Potty surprise was the hot topic at dinner that evening–and long afterward. Those kinds of special touches are called “creating the buzz” for your special event. You offer something so unexpected or outrageous that participants give you lots of free publicity by telling everyone about the event months after it’s over, almost ensuring a huge crowd the following year.
There are lots of other ways to create the buzz, even if you’re on a shoestring budget. You can send enticing invitations, for example. Deb remembers the nonprofit fund-raiser that sent special invitations to its high-profile CEOs and other execs to attend a reception for a celebrity guest. The invitations included remote control race cars for everybody on their special event list. Attached to each car was a label listing the name of the person invited. Deb says that to this day, her son still plays with the car.
She and I shared those tips and six hours worth of more advice for meeting planners when we created “How to Plan & Promote Sizzling Special Events.”