Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Count Foot Traffic When Hosting an Event at Your Business

The number of shopping days until the fall and winter holidays are dwindling; and most likely you will host an open house or event to draw consumers to your retail outlet to do some holiday shopping.  In the past, we have offered some insight into hosting events (Events – Know When and How to Host Them and Cross Promotion: Partnering With Other Business to Better Serve Your Customers, Part III), and as a result a question you might be asking, “How will I know if the event was a success?” 

Certainly calculating gross and net sales is important but it is also important to document foot traffic – the number of people who attended the event.  It is key to know your customer counts so that you can determine if the event encouraged more consumers to visit than during an average day, or if the event needs to be redesigned to be more appealing.  Foot traffic counts also help retailers understand whether the event attracted more consumers than past events held during the same period. 

Obtaining foot traffic counts can be accomplished by: 

  • Distributing invitations that attendees bring to the event to be admitted or requiring attendees to RSVP
  • Counting attendees as they arrive at the event by either assigning an employee to manually count customers or installing an electronic sensor that tabulates the number of customers who pass through a particular doorway
  • Asking customers to sign up for a mailing list or loyalty program
  • Giving each attendee a raffle ticket and keeping track of the number handed out  

Each system has its advantages and disadvantage. 

  • If invitations or RSVPs are expected you will also need decide if “walk-ins” will be admitted and how to capture this number
  • Not all customers will sign up for your mailing list or loyalty program, or they may already be members unless you are launching these programs during the event 
  • If attendees are counted as they enter a doorway—it is possible that they could be counted more than once if they exit the store and then reenter.  It is also possible that the person counting attendees could be distracted if others ask questions or for assistance.  You will also need to determine how you will “count” attendees.  Will you count all adults or will you count families (with two or more adults) and couples as one attendee?  It will also be important to “subtract” any employees, who enter the store through the same entrance, from these counts.  

Foot traffic can also help with planning for next year’s event.  Consider counting the number of customers who visit based on the time of the day and, if it is a multi-day event, the day they visit. These numbers can help with scheduling staff as well as adjusting the hours that the event could be held in future years. Additionally, if you invite other vendors to showcase their goods and services or schedule a special entertainer to perform, use these counts to schedule their appearances when foot traffic is favorable for all involved.  
Having entertainment at your event is a great idea to set the tone.
Just be certain to schedule performers during periods when you expect high foot traffic counts


Record not only foot traffic but also the number of visitors who access your website during and after the event. Also, ask customers to participate in an online survey and ask them if they are interested in attending the event (or if they did attend), what additional vendors or attractions they would be like to see, and how they heard about the event or if they first learned about it when visiting your site.
 

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