In January, the contract for the headline entertainment to fill the crucial last Saturday night slot at the Miami-Dade County Youth Fair & Exposition was almost completed. Then, negotiations came to a sudden collapse and as the year progressed and the March 23rd opening day grew closer, no suitable or affordable entertainer was available.
"It is challenge booking acts they are getting more expensive especially to have a well known act," said "Their fees have gone up, and their technical riders are longer. I've seem them as thick as 50 pages, requesting so many things in their dressing room and equipment, so it is becoming more challenging, even though we had a good lineup this year."
That line up was heavy on the Latin music, including an opening day concert featuring
Carlos Daniels along with Mariachis: Voces de America; a Christian Concert featuring Skillet; a Latin Concert featuring Jacob Forever, and J Alvarez, the renowned Puerto Rican Reggaeton artist.
"The Christian band Skillet and Latin Artist Jacob Forever were very popular with our guests," said Claudia Hernandez, Director of Marketing & Entertainment. "But booking this year was very challenging."
Dee Jay Throw Down
Even after the opening of the fair, the question of what to do for the final Saturday's entertainment remained until an answer came that was not just affordable but energized the local fairgoers - Battle of the DJs. Similar to the Battle of the Band shows at high school dances, "we had Battle of DJs with several DJs playing music and our guests loved this," said Hernandez. "The DJs were from the Miami area, from local radio stations, but they were also very popular, and have been on the radio for years, from all genres. Some of the DJs had built a following since the 1980s. People grew up with these DJs."
Not only did the DJs have a built-in following to supplement the fairgoer population, but the fair benefited from the on-air promotions by the disk jockey, essentially free advertising for the event. Also, the cost was a fraction of what would it takes to book a huge name artist, about $15,000 said Hernandez compared to often more than $100,000.
"People loved it," said Hernandez. "We almost had someone else booked, but when that fell through, we didn't have enough time to get a replacement act. We really didn't decide to have the Battle of The DJs until mid-fair. The fair was already opened when we decided to add it to the mix. But we had a great turn out and we are definitely going to add it for next year. We are going to more than replicate the success, because we are going to be able to promote better than we were able to."
Of course the entertainment at the fair did not only take place on the concert stage. The fair had several new grounds acts, including: Xtreme Chinese Acrobats, Robocars, Special Head from America's Got Talent, and Them Sweeney Boys, as well as returning favorites - The Fritters; Ice Skating Show: Las Vegas on Ice; The Royal Hanneford Circus and Light Up The Night Robots.
Because of the cost-savings due to the Battle of the DJs taking the place of a headliner, "We were able to have a little more in the entertainment budget so we added more strolling entertainment," she said. "People loved the Robocars and the Xtreme Chinese Acrobats were very popular. But we also brought back acts that people always like, such as the Pig Races and the Ice Skating show, which had a Las Vegas theme this year. Basically we want a mix of new for the guests, and acts they always come back to see."
10 Rainy Days
The 2017 Miami-Dade County Youth Fair & Exposition - which marked the 66th edition of the 21-day event - was plagued by 10 days of rain - ranging from frequent and heavy downpours to spot showers. Attendance reached about 582,000, a decline of approximately 5 percent compared to last year. No record days were set, but there were several well-attended days "We had some great days with attendance of over 45,000 guests," said Hernandez. "We had a great fair, and a safe fair." ,
But, "when you see clouds, or when there's rain part of the day, people tended to stay home," she said.
In spite of the attendance dip, food spending saw an increase of more than 3 percent. "We are still working on the numbers, but we had a lot of great options," she said. "The midway was affected worse than the food by the rain. When it rains, people still eat the food."
There were 170 food vendors, including 10 new food items, including a combination of fair favorites - Cheesy Fried Enchilada Funnel Cake, featuring a funnel cake topped with melted white queso and chorizo. "It was very popular," said Hernandez. Other new items - many of them twists and/or combination of a well established fair cuisine item - were Polar Bear Ice Cream's kettle corn pop - Krispy Kreme doughnut filled with vanilla and kettle-corn ice cream, dipped in chocolate, and rolled in kettle corn; Banana Nutella Spring Roll, Turkey Leg Tacos; Grilled Avocado with Black Bean Salsa, Oreos Fried in Tempura Batter and Pork Chop On-a-Stick.
"We are known for our food," said Hernandez. "The new food items this year also brought a lot of media attention. We seemed to have more stories about the food this year."
The midway featuring 95 rides, was provided by North American Midway Entertainment (NAME). Due to the weather, the midway revenue dipped in "the double digits" but Hernandez cautioned that the numbers were still being tallied. The ride line-up include four new rides: Bullet Train Roller Coaster, Rock 'n Cars Bumper Cars, Vertigo and a Charlie Chopper, "for the younger ones," said Hernandez.
Share The Fun
The fair's marketing theme was Share The Fun and while Hernandez emphasized that all the media platforms utilized are crucial to marketing success, clearly the tagline choice indicated that social media seems leading the marketing and promotional efforts. "Share the Fun was a great marketing theme because nowadays everyone shares so much content on social media," she said.
In fact, it was specifically chosen knowing that "our followers would be sharing our online promotions, images and overall general content with their friends and relatives which was excellent," she said.
She added, "We continued to use the social media platforms that we used in 2016: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Snapchat. We used two hashtags that we use every year: #miamiyouthfair #betherethefair and added a new one to the mix this year: #sharethefun. We continued to buy promoted posts on Facebook and Instagram. In 2017, we had many contests to create excitement about the Youth Fair and to engage people on our social media platforms."
She noted that the fair's Facebook has reached 70,000 followers and during the course of the fair, Instagram followers more than doubled, going from 2,000 to 4,830.
Social media and digital marketing also drove ticket sales promotions. The fair had an online sales promotion, including a holiday sale and two 36-Hour Flash Sales, essentially repeating last year's format, but with better results. "We had a 70 percent increase in total with the two Flash Sales," she said. " Our online Holiday promotion was also very successful with an increase of 85 percent from the previous year."
Social media also allows the fair to keep a year-round presence - although actual sales start with Thanksgiving, the fair posts reminders to fairgoers for post-fair holidays such as Mother's Day and Independence Day.
The key to sustaining an effective social media market is constant monitoring. "We are doing so many things during the fair, but it is important to keep track and monitor comments, respond to all questions. You want to always reply, it is very important to get back to people, to keep it very personal."
The most popular posts? Food. "People love the food, the posts about the food are always the highest, it's unbelievable."
Social media is of course not the sole advertising format for the fair. "We still do a lot of television and radio, and we are doing a lot of advertising on buses," said Hernandez. The media mix for the fair was: 44 percent Broadcast/Cable, 20 percent Radio, 11 percent Digital, 12 percent Outdoor, 7 percent Print and 6 percent of the budget was spent on production.
She added, "the only changes from 2016 to 2017 is that we increased Digital and decreased Print."
With the Share The Fun theme - the word share encouraged social media interaction by the fairgoer. "We are certainly spending more than we did with digital and social media, using more sponsored posts or advertising on websites, such as miamionthecheap.com. Digital is the most cost effective, you have to reach people where they are and people are on their phone all the time, constantly checking the internet on their phone. When you're promoting the fair, that's where you want to be."