Marketers, think beyond the Grand Prix race weekend

Race-fever has once again descended upon Singapore as the 10th edition of the Singapore Formula 1 (F1) Grand Prix brings in exciting action and headline acts this weekend. This year, many are left pondering on the fate of the races given that discussions for the extension of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix beyond 2017 are still underway, despite being “positive”.

In a conversation with Marketing, Jean Ng, director, sports, experience development group, Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said this year’s theme revolves around the concept of “Excitement at every turn”, illustrating the Singapore F1 Grand Prix’s aim to set itself apart from the other race destinations with its “diverse” range of experiences.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the race and Grand Prix Season Singapore (GPSS), she added that all-encompassing seasons of lifestyle events are lined up to complement the race. Ng said that GPSS “encourages and features unique and innovative pop-up lifestyle experiences”, allowing businesses to test-bed new or scaled-up initiatives and concepts. These help enhance consumer experiences and build up the brand equity of local businesses and their reputation in the international arena.

Overall, according to STB, the Singapore F1 Grand Prix has contributed “significantly” to Singapore’s tourism sector since its debut in 2008. It has attracted over 350,000 international visitors over the past eight races, with more than 40% of the unique spectators being foreign visitors. The Singapore F1 Grand Prix has also generated an average of nearly SG$150 million incremental tourism receipts per year.

Russell Young, managing director, APAC at Sojern, provider of data-driven traveller marketing, said when looking at the number of travellers arriving in Singapore during the race week, it observed about a 10% increase in travel intent globally.

“As the event is enjoyed largely by an affluent demographic, it has also presented a good opportunity for airlines to increase sales for business and first class seats,” Young added.

Extend your marketing plans post the races

In addition to benefiting from tourist footballs, the travel industry can also expect to gain from longer stays. According to research from Sojern, tourists are looking to extend their stay past the Singapore F1 Grand Prix weekend. Young said that more than half of the tourists due to arrive during the race week are intending to stay for a period ranging from six to seven days, to over 12 days.

With most companies wanting to get in on the action through F1-related packages, he encourages brands to think past just the races. He added:

Marketers are recognising the spillover effect of the F1 and cashing in on it.

“Clearly, marketers are looking beyond the gains the F1 brings in terms of tourist receipts, and leveraging the event to boost local expenditure as well. So while it’s difficult to say whether there could ever be enough being done, marketers are certainly making a valiant effort,” Young added.

According to Sojern’s data, there is a significant spike in people travelling in on the Friday of race week. As such, hotels can leverage on this data to anticipate a potential over-capacity problem during the weekend, and draw up plans to spread out the demand across the preceding days with initiatives such as targeted promotions. This reduces the risk of losing potential customers.

“Travel brands that notice people searching for more than one destination beyond Singapore need to think more on how they can market to these people. Instead of simply drawing them to Singapore, target them with specific ads and promotions related to these other destinations they have been searching for,” Young added.

He added that retailers and those operating in the food and beverage industry are kicking into overdrive too. As such, many bars are extending their hours and promoting specially crafted cocktails, and shopping malls are creating photo opportunities with life-sized racing car replicas.

Besides using data to effectively target consumers across multiple media channels, creating compelling offers that offer consumers with a memorable or unique experience is still key, he added. While there have been creative, attention-grabbing initiatives such as Grand Prix-related art, pop-up experiences and F1 simulators, Young said that at the end of the day, “it’s the marketers who demonstrate a keen understanding of their audience who win”.

When to start marketing?

According to Sojern’s data, the Oceania region is a consistently strong source market, with the travel intent of tourists in the region increasing from 47% last year’s race week to 52% this year.

The top source markets for the F1 weekend are Australia, Japan, the UK and US. As the UK and US are further away from Singapore, Young advises brands to start their marketing earlier. While most begin three months before the event, he said brands can consider starting as early as six to eight months in advance.

“At the same time, cultural factors, such as a proclivity for last-minute bookings, could play a role, which would then mean brands should intensify their efforts in the later stages of the purchase funnel,” Young added.

Meanwhile, STB is also collaborating with iconic Singaporean night club Zouk. Zouk told Marketing it is gearing up for the race by bringing the F1 experience into Zouk for the entire weekend with star-studded names.

Zouk’s spokesperson said brands should start their marketing three to four weeks prior to the Singapore F1 Grand Prix, with a strong build up towards the final two weeks. As for the nightclub, it aims to capitalise on its strength as an iconic institution and “merge that with providing [its] guests with the glitz and glamour of F1”.

Currently, the STB is working with existing and new GPSS stakeholders such as CE LA VI, 1-Altitude, Singapore Art Museum, Peranakan restaurant Blue Ginger and local lifestyle retailer NAIISE, to provide a variety of special experiences and promotions.

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