The Purdue Chapter has diligently managed The Elegant Bridal Expo since 2018, which is the most comprehensive bridal expo in North Central Indiana. Ryan Barth, member of the GMC Student Committee and the committee’s liaison to Purdue University, chatted with Abby Hayes, President of the Purdue Chapter, on what made their 2019 event so successful:
This bridal expo was previously managed by Willowstone Family Services, a non-profit, social services organization in Lafayette, Indiana. How did PCMA become involved to eventually manage the expo?
“Willowstone Family Services had previously used the Elegant Bridal Expo as a fundraiser for their organization. As their organization grew, they wanted to focus on fundraising events that more closely related to their mental health and family services mission, and 2017 would be their final year managing the expo. However, the expo’s planning committee was eager to continue the tradition of the expo within the Greater Lafayette community. My Marketing Director of PCMA at Purdue University was working with the event planners and saw the opportunity for PCMA to oversee the continuation of the expo. With that idea, my executive board and I approached the planners at the venue, the Purdue Memorial Union, and at Willowstone Family Services to assist on their last official year running the expo. At that time, in 2017, some responsibilities were shifted over to us, but we were used in more of an onsite volunteer capacity. After closely observing in 2017, we held a post-convention meeting to analyze the areas of the event that could use major improvement in order to result in event growth. Those changes were included both in our scheduling and execution each year with adjustments made as necessary and we have seen growth.”
How does your chapter organize itself to manage the expo?
“The chapter is structured in five committees: Public Relations is responsible for all radio advertisements, press releases, billboards, and large scale communication with the media; Marketing works closely with Public Relations to create a consistent brand image that is used across all social media platforms; Volunteer Coordination hosts call-outs to recruit student models to walk in the fashion show, event planning students to assist with registration, and vendor ambassadors; Vendor Relations communicates and maintains relationships with all of our vendors; and finally, Fashion Show organizes the two miniature fashion shows that take place at the expo by finding vendors, selecting attire, and training models.”
How has attendance grown since 2017?
“When we first observed the event in 2017, prior to our organization’s restructure, the event was titled, “The Classical Elegance Bridal Expo”. This event had less than 30 brides in 2017 and several complaints from its vendors. In 2018, we re-branded with a new website, new event name (“The Elegant Bridal Expo”) and new marketing efforts. This increased our attendance slightly to 50 paid attendees, but it was extremely difficult to overcome the negative association with the expo prior to our takeover. In 2019, due to integrated marketing and club member strategy, we had 200 paid attendees, which was a 400% increase in attendance.”
What made your marketing and promotional efforts so successful?
“The Public Relations and Marketing Committees partner to achieve the desired event marketing objectives. This year, we implemented Facebook and Instagram advertisements targeted by relationship status, geographical location, and personal interests in certain areas of the industry. With those two social media platforms, we promoted our website, the Facebook event, blog posts that were written by members, and the students behind the event. We also purchased a billboard in downtown Lafayette the month prior to the expo and utilized unique marketing efforts such as custom printed coffee sleeves that were given and used at coffee shops across campus. Club funds purchased the disposable sleeves for the coffee shop, and they replaced their standard sleeves with ours for week-long cycles. Finally, we purchased a month-long cycle with a popular Lafayette radio station.”
Is there a date already set for 2020?
“The 2020 Elegant Bridal Expo will take place on Sunday, March 1, 2020. The expo is held in the North and South Ballrooms of the Purdue Memorial Union. The classic wooden ballrooms are a staple of the history of Purdue University, and the event has been hosted at this venue since its creation.”
Congratulations, Boilermakers! Keep up the great work!