Sunday, March 11, 2007

Have you heard of "Pasifika"?

The Pasifika Festival is in its 15 year in Auckland (New Zealand). The festival is the largest free community event of its kind in the world and is held annually in Auckland, home to the world's largest Pacific island population.

Pasifika is segmented into 10 Pacific Island villages as well as several themed areas targeting different musical and cultural tastes from the traditional to the contemporary. The 10 Pacific island villages each offer an insight to their cultural practices and ceremonies, traditional food, arts and crafts, music and performance from Fiji and Kiribati in Malaynesia to Tonga and Western Samoa in central Polynesia to the Cook Islands and Tahiti in Eastern Polynesia to Aotearoa (New Zealand) in the south. Activities will include flax weaving, lei making, firedancing and traditional cooking demonstrations.

This is "experiential marketing" at its best. You get to experience and interact in every Pacific Island village the sights, sounds, tastes, textures and smells of that particular country. I have personally attended nearly every single one of the Pasifika events over the past 15 years and every year if you could believe this gets better even with the 100,000 plus people!!!!

I use to love Pasifika when it first started because the entertainment and the Pacific cuisine was just plain yummy!!! but then it started to become "mainstream", the word had got out and the numbers began to swell. That's when I started to only "like" Pasifika because of the poor logistical planning to cope with the crowd numbers. There weren't enough toilets, the queues to cross into villages were too long, parking was a headache, and access to Pasifika was a mission. However, the organisers started to learn and implement a lot of the feedback from the public to address the shortcomings of the previous year's event. Pasifika is now where it should be: THE Premier Pacific Island Event in the World!!!

Here are a couple ideas to improve Pasifika:

  • do an audit of the most successful stores in each village and allow them to come back the next year.
    • since demand for store space is limited, only the successful businesses should be allowed back in as the comparably unsuccessful businesses are only taking up space.
    • allow the most popular stores to have a presence in more than one area of Pasifika.
  • ALL villages should have a stage
    • I noticed that the Tongan village didn't have a stage and people at the back couldn't see the performances at the front.
  • there should be maps on the walking routes to show where each village is.
    • yes there were pamphlets available with the positioning of the villages but that is no good if you couldn't see or find the information tent when you walk in.
Here are a couple ideas to improve the marketing of Pasifika:
  • Pasifika should be marketed internationally through each Pacific Island's visitors bureau or tourism office
    • they should be integrated in their efforts to ensure that the BEST of each country is well represented, after all, Pasifika is a showcase of each Pacific Island nation.
    • each tourism office could have a store that has the best products from their country (eg. organic produce/products, traditional medicines, tourism events)
  • the lead up to Pasifika needs to be managed properly.
    • I didnt hear or see anything about Pasifika until the week of the festival.
      • I want to know at least a month out of when the festival is for planning purposes.
      • For parents this would be useful as they would be able to organise a babysitter if need be. For businesses, owners are able to organise staff.
  • a social networking site should be set up for Pasifika for people to leave their feedback to improve the event for the following year
  • the organisers of the event should promote healthy living and not allow brands/firms that produce fatty foods/drink to advertise or have a presence at Pasifika (eg. corned beef and soft drink).
    • be more proactive
    • be firm
    • find alternative sponsors that will contribute monies to have the festival (eg. replace the corned beef company with a large water company).
  • create more 'buzz' to attract more non-Pacific Island people to the event.
    • have some traditional dancers walking around the central city.
    • develop a text message viral campaign a week out from the event

You got the luuuuuurve!!!

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