Cigar Lifestyle

What Makes A Great Cigar Event Great

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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.

Cigar Event - Davidoff Winston Churchill
Davidoff chose a large space with high ceilings on Manhattan’s West side that was ideal for their particular event. Inside, they had two bars stocked with the best liquors. Guests moved about freely, chatted with each other, and noshed on hors d’oeuvres.

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.

winston churchill cigar event davidoff
At the appropriate time, the guests were ushered into what was essentially a small theatre where Oettinger-Davidoff AG CEO, Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard officially welcomed everyone. Next, Master blender, Hendrik Kelner, was introduced and spoke about how he and his team created the blend. This was followed by a short interview conducted by Mr. Hoejsgaard with their special guest, Randolph Churchill, Sir Winston’s great-grandson.

 

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.

winston churchill cigars davidoff display
“And now, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Davidoff Winston Churchill cigars.” Suddenly, the wall behind the stage begins to move aside revealing an elegantly appointed smoking lounge replete with soft lighting, big comfy leather chairs and couches, coffee tables, opulent ashtrays, another fully-stocked bar, a buffet line, and in the center of it all, the featured cigars, magnificently presented under an immense glass dome. And finally…in the corner is the familiar traveling Davidoff humidor, where guests are handed a Winston Churchill cigar in the size of their choice. More schmoozing ensues for the next hour or so, and as I leave I’m handed a goodie bag with some swag and a Winston Churchill sampler.

 

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.

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Alberto Abbondanza
4 years ago

Mi chiamo Alberto Abbondanza, e ho lavorato per il Sigaro Toscano Italiano per 14 anni, occupandomi oltre che della sua commercializzazione , specialmente di creare e condurre eventi per far conoscere il mio prodotto.
Ho creato circa 736 giornate evento, tra fiere, cene, presentazioni, ecc. ecc.
Da questa lunga esperienza ho tratto le condizioni chiave che possono rendere un evento eccellente o noioso.
1° DIVERTIRSI Il pubblico deve assolutamente divertirsi e non andare a scuola o a un seminario dove fare ciò che dice il conduttore e reprimere le sue voglie… Quelli appunto si chiamano seminari..
2° EVITARE DI PARLARE ALL’INTERA PLATEA, se è una cena passare per i tavoli e aspettare che siano gli ospiti a fare le loro domande, se è un aperitivo mischiarsi tra la gente soffermandosi a scherzare con tutti ed essere disponibile al dialogo anche non inerente per forza al sigaro.
3° CREARE PER L’EVENTO UN ABBINAMENTO GIUSTO E PARTICOLARE, non soffermarsi solo al Rum o al superalcolico, bello è assaggiare anche un vino particolare, la tonalità dolce non deve sempre essere sempre la cioccolata, ma dei magnifici frutti di bosco possono tranquillamente reggere… Insomma stupire, proporre nuove versioni di gustare il sigaro, incantare…
4° ESSERE PREPARATI, sapere dunque esattamente di cosa si parla, conoscere le caratteristiche, i territori, sia del sigaro che delle altre proposte..
5° RACCONTARE….avere sempre un tono da racconto, fatto di alte e basse tonalità della voce, esaltare le eventuali curiosità del prodotto qualsiasi siano anche se solo credenze del posto.

Essere sempre positivi e sorridenti poi è il giusto atteggiamento per coronare il tutto.

Alberto Abbondanza

Craig
2 years ago

Hi Gary,
Nice article. Great insight into a commercial cigar shop type event. So the give-a-ways work well. I always say there are two types of parties or events, a sit down party or a stand up party. If you don’t want them to stay long then don’t give them a chair! LOL…

I found there aren’t many reasons or events, at least in my town, where guys can hang out. So I started doing a seasonal Rum & Cigar Night for all my friends. I try to provide an atmosphere of relaxation and enjoyment. My invite goes out to about 25 guys where 18 to 20 will show up. I provide up to 4 different Rums for the guys to enjoy along with various Cigars. I also offer food which is usually a ton of some kind of meat like Chicken stickers or Spring rolls with Pork inside, where the guys don’t have to put a Cigar down to eat. Last couple events I asked my Cigar shop if he could offer some promo stuff to kick it up a notch and he did. I asked a couple Rum distributors as well. I came up with some great give-a-ways for the guys. They each left last fall with a Clement Branded Rum glass, torch lighter, and a Clement swizzle stick. I’d send you some pics if I could of the feature Rum table & layout but it was similar to a new Cigar event. I do this every Spring and Fall now. This spring I’m putting a Flat screen out and have some guy rolling a cigar during the event followed by Fist full of dollars. One of the Rum manufacturers has a great Youtube story of how they make their Rum, so might play that.

I’m champing at the bit to get the next event underway! I’m always trying to keep it interesting for me and how to take it to the next level. That’s how I found your article. Thanks for the advice.

Cheers!
Craig

Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

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