The Basic Ingredients for a Great Cigar Event
By Gary Korb
One of the perks of working in the cigar business is that you get to attend a lot of neat events. Usually held at a cigar store or lounge, most of these revolve around the debut of a new cigar release or, in some cases, a new brand. More recently, online cigar events have begun springing up, usually hosted by an online cigar group, either in concert with the manufacturer, or unilaterally. Done in a webinar format, they can be fun and informative, but they lack the more personal aspect of rubbing elbows (literally) with your fellow cigar smokers all in one room.
So, what are the things that make a great cigar event great? Last December, I attended an event in New York City for the pre-release of Davidoff’s new Winston Churchill® cigar series. The lavish parties held at the annual IPCPR Trade Show notwithstanding, I’ve been to a lot of new cigar events over the years, and the Winston Churchill event was a real standout for a number of reasons – or at least enough to write a column on the subject – so let’s break it down.
Choose the right space
Although many new cigars are promoted via a “national tour” in cigar stores and lounges across the country, the setting is key. It should be roomy enough for people to move around, have a good way to filter the smoke, and provide the right atmosphere for the guests.
Create some suspense
It helps to create a certain amount of suspense before presenting a new product. Cigar stores will usually have the product on display with attractive signage and at least one representative from the company to introduce the cigars and answer any questions. In many cases, guests are handed a free sample of the cigar when they enter. If at all possible, the rep should try to keep them from lighting it until he or she has given a short presentation about what they are about to enjoy – hopefully. Cigar smokers tend to view the cigar with more interest and enthusiasm when they know what went into creating the blend, and what they can ostensibly expect from the experience.
Make them happy
After everyone has had a chance to light-up, this is where the climax comes in; the “extra mile” that makes an “okay” event, into a memorable event. This could include giving away swag or a cigar accessory with the cigar brand’s name on it. For retail cigar stores, those freebies, even an additional cigar or two, could be included with the purchase of a box or a sampler. They might even hold a raffle where one of the guests can win a box of the featured cigars. Depending on the budget and magnitude of the promotion, the manufacturer might be sponsoring a raffle for a motorcycle, a vacation, a set of golf clubs, or some other “big” prize. Back in the day, CAO Cigars were renowned for their new cigar release events. They came up with some of the most creative themes, and often coupled them with contests that featured just about everything you can imagine from cigars to electric guitars. Whatever the size of the event, the hosts should try to make sure that their guests leave with something that will remind them of their experience. It might just pay-off in extra revenue for them down the road, too.
Let’s review, shall we? There are three basic ingredients to putting on a great cigar event: A good space with the right atmosphere; a presentation that focuses on the featured cigar and raises the interest of the guests; doing something for the guests that will not only make the event memorable for them, but make them feel good about the product and buy it.
If you have any ideas as to how you would make a cigar event more entertaining, more enlightening, more fun, or would like to share an event experience that made an impression on you, please leave a comment.