The Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads, an affiliate of the Hampton Roads Chamber, held free workshops throughout the Southside and Peninsula from February 13-23 to prepare businesses for OpSail 2012 Virginia. In total, more than 100 people attended the small town merchants workshop “TEAM Eventacular: Towns, Events and Merchants: Partnering for Profit” led by Marc Wilson, Retail Consultant for Virginia SBDC.
OpSail 2012 Virginia® is a collaboration between Operation Sail Inc. (OpSail) national, the United States Navy, Norfolk Festevents, and hundreds of national, state and local organizations. The event, which will be held locally June 1-12, 2012, marks the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. Exciting activities will take place in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Hampton, Yorktown, Onancock, Chesapeake, Cape Charles, Tangier Island, and Newport News. OpSail 2012 Virginia is a $65 million production, projected to have an attendance of 1.5 million people during the 12 days. This added consumer traffic presents a tremendous opportunity for the local business community. When OpSail came to Hampton Roads in 2000, it brought nearly 2 million people and generated an estimated $58 million economic impact on our region.
Workshop attendees learned how merchants, event planners and town representatives can work together to benefit from increased traffic and exposure to new customers generated by large-scale local events. Topics discussed were effective ways to work together; what to do before, during and after the event; dos and don'ts; success stories from other towns; and the best ways to maximize profits.
Nearly 25 people attended the workshop held in Portsmouth on February 14. Wilson discussed key technology strategies businesses should use. He emphasized the need for a business to have a website, a managed Facebook page and the ability to use smart phones to conduct transactions. Wilson said, “Nine out of 10 people who come into your business, have seen your website.” He also encouraged the attendees to host an event in their business themed around OpSail. “Climb on the band wagon and plan for a ‘Day of Event.’” Benefits include gaining new customers, have a sale and uniting the community. He shared tips on adding to a business’s curb appeal, which in turn will attract customers into shops or restaurants.
Betsy Edwards, Marketing and Sales Director at the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, said, “The workshop was a tremendous opportunity to hear from Mark on his experience with events like OpSail and the effect that this kind of event can bring to our area. He brought a different kind of insight and awareness to what Hampton Roads communities should prepare for. I was inspired by his enthusiasm and look forward to taking some of his suggestions and ideas and implementing them not only in what we at the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame & Museum will do but also here in Olde Towne!”
If you missed the workshop or need further assistance preparing for OpSail, call the Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads at 757-664-2595 (Southside) or 757-865-3128 (Peninsula).