3 Ways Events Impact A City Strategy

Events; City; Brand Strategy; Matt Lambert

Building a sense of place and reputation takes a well rounded and creative strategy. When thinking of possibilities to build a better perception, those responsible need to think about existing structures along with what could be. Many think about the arts, culture, and tourist offerings in drawing the attention of outsiders, or even awakening the imagination of locals. However, one area tends to be neglected: EVENTS, especially yearly, dependable events that leverage the strength of existing communities while also getting branded for outsiders as well.

Yearly conferences, gatherings of professionals, and meet ups capture the attention of both locals and travelers depending on their niche. Annual events play into the story and message of a place that needs to be communicated to a wider audience. Developing a place’s story can be enhanced by the use of annual events and conferences creating growth of businesses, brand, and determining future goals of the city or place.

Brand Development

Events feed the desired brand of the city (or country). When we speak of brands, we are talking more about the substance of a place. We are talking about its reputation and the reasons for taking the time to visit or possibly move there. A good example is Estonia in recent years. Their purpose was to become a frontrunner in tech and policy. In that pursuit, they created e-residency programs, explore blockchain for a variety of industries, and even considered creating a cryptocurrency for public use.

Events fit this type of mold. For a city looking to build a name in an industry or field, partnerships can be formed with existing businesses to create the type of event to build the city brand. A recent example is Sarajevo Unlimited. Sarajevo is wanting to create an identity of being a city for startups and entrepreneurship. Two years ago, they started Unlimited Sarajevo to help build this image and demonstrate their sincerity toward this goal.

Revenue Creation 

Nina Prebesen in The Value Of Events says “events are value creation entities affecting individuals, firms and society.” A strong yearly event draws business into the city. It is a clear win for the city to host an event that feeds into its brand strategy because of the amount of possible revenues for local businesses, and the city itself. Local tourism and hospitality industries are two examples of industries which tend to thrive over the course of a multi day conference.

One example is an extension of the tourist season. If you follow Lonely Planet, they tell you that May is the best month to visit Montenegro. (And I agree.) The crowds are thinner. Prices a bit lower. Weather is perfect especially along the coast. A growing conference in Budva, Spark.me helps to draw outsiders into this small Adriatic country and draw this early season traveler. A conference on innovation, marketing, and entrepreneurship helps promote the goals of the country in giving travelers another reason to visit in May.

Define Goals

The occurrence of yearly events and conferences solidifies comprehensive goals of the place. While not all events need to have direct connection with the stated goals of the city or its identity, all events need to clearly demonstrate how they play a part. Defining comprehensive goals help the city build a plan and determine priorities for the place.

Going back to the example of Spark in Budva, Montenegro, Spark is a business conference on the coast of Montenegro. Budva is not trying to become the center of business for the country, however, they share the purpose of developing a stronger identity of Montenegro for business and strengthening the extended tourist season. The regular and consistent occurrence of Spark should be a priority for the local government and national government because of its growth over the last 6 years.  The conference is able to leverage the natural resources of the country, and the local government should leverage the strength of a growing conference to build on its goals of tourism development.

Creating and promoting an annual event is not a passive task left alone to private businesses to complete. Governments should be actively seeking out existing events, supporting them, and helping them grow as they fit the goals of the place. The planning and coordination of events is a strategic task that all too often goes unnoticed. However, events can be powerful tools for countries and places in the process of redefining themselves or communicating their identity.

A well defined and curated event helps cities and countries build a sense of place for their people and travelers. They bring value to the people, businesses, and overall community. Left alone, they can be chaotic and lack purpose, but when all stakeholders come together to collaborate, events can be powerful tools to develop the city message and brand.

China’s Coffee Industry: My experience with Yunnan coffee from Urban Dwellers

China; Yunnan; Coffee

In 2004, I traveled to China for the first time. Two weeks in the summer started a love affair with a country that did not always receive the best publicity at that time. However, the first time opened a new world to me. One where I truly entered a new culture, its practices, and way of life. It also opened up the world of China’s tea. However, as a strong coffee drinker, I always wondered where China’s coffee was hiding.

I searched to no avail. As a tea producing nation, it made sense that coffee was also accessible, however, there was nothing to be found. It still might be the case when searching for the local coffee shop. I don’t really know as I haven’t been back to China since 2009. One thing is certain though, China’s coffee is breaking through on the world scene. In 2015, The Guardian produced an article laying out the “booming coffee culture” in China, and other articles dating back to 2012 and 2013 highlight the growing of coffee within Yunnan, one of China’s chief tea producing regions especially known for Pu’er tea.

This past week, I received a package of coffee from Urban Dwellers Coffee. Their goal is to work with local farmers in producing AMAZING coffee! Honestly, my past kept me skeptical about the quality of coffee the that I had received. Excited to brew it up yet hesitant with expectations, I pulled my Aeropress from the cabinet and opened the package.

 

The aromas were nutty and mild at first, but a second sniff brought fruity, citrusy notes, almost peach like. I knew it was going to be an excellent cup. With water boiled and the Aeropress fully prepped, I began the scientific precision for the perfect cup. What surprised me the most was the real diversity yet balanced flavor of the cup. I was not overwhelmed with citrus, and smoothness of the chocolatey flavors really made this coffee enjoyable. I was quickly reminded about the depth of the Pu’er teas I had enjoyed in China almost a decade ago.

Urban Dwellers found an excellent partner in the Yunnan region, and provided a perfectly roasted coffee. I will definitely be on the lookout for more coffees coming from China. I look forward to the growth of the industry in this country I love. Thank you Urban Dwellers, and a big thanks to their partners, Sina Green, who works directly with the farmers harvesting the coffee crop.

Coffee Tour: Dallas, Texas

Coffee; Dallas; Matt Lambert

The Dallas coffeeshop has transformed in my absence. I remember the over-saturation of Starbucks and having to order from Austin or other favorites. Now, that is no longer the case. Dallas has become a flourishing center for the perfect coffee extraction. Artisan roasters are filling the city. Coffeeshops that focus on the experience and community which gathers within its walls are thriving. Shops built for conversations, work, or a bit of solace now exist throughout the metroplex making DFW a coffee destination.

Union Coffee

Coffee. Community. Cause. These three words spell out the mantra and driving force of the shop. A local, Dallas coffeeshop started for the sole purpose of building a community hub, Union serves up Eiland Coffee  roasted in neighboring part of the DFW Metroplex. They create the perfect balance of coffee shop and work space for those who do not have an office, but have not made the jump to a coworking space.

Ascension; Dallas; Matt Lambert

 

Ascension (Oak Lawn)

Wine bar meets coffee shop is the feel of Ascension located in the Oak Lawn neighborhood of Dallas.  The owner, Russell, decided to start something which he felt was missing in Dallas, “a great cup of coffee in a warm, conversation filled environment.” This is the soul of Ascension, and they accomplish it by first and foremost caring about the development of each aspect of the business: the farmers, the coffee, the roasting, the workers serving it, and the community.  Ascension is an excellent locale for working in the morning and hosting the afternoon to evening meetings over a drink.

 

Davis Street Espresso (Oak Cliff)

Davis Street Espresso is the home of Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, and probably my favorite cup of coffee. Davis Street is being revitalized with new shops and businesses. The community is turning around and becoming a place where people want to be. The coffee house feels more like a pub to me from the all wood setting to the continual conversations that place there. Sitting for a few minutes, one will hear friendly chatter, politics,  and philosophical discourse about the need for personal and communal transformation. No matter what the subject matter might be, it is a place where both neighbors and outsiders want to sit and be. If you do not get the chance to visit Davis Street then go to OCCR’s website and order some coffee.

Houndstooth (Knox/Henderson)

What I love about Houndstooth is the passion to be a part of their customers identity and the identity of the local neighborhood. Their mission is “to be an integral pattern in the fabric of the Texas coffee community.”It is easy to feel this when interacting with the baristas. They are personable, interactive, and pour with intention. The desire is to provide a coffee experience like no other. They specialize in the finest coffee, tea, beer, and wines. They also serve up taste filled pastries for the perfect, late morning snack.

 

RE:defined (Grapevine)

Sitting here as I write. 🙂 A decent work environment. Cozy. Relaxed. The coffee being served is from Avoca out of Fort Worth, and it is represented extremely well. Sometimes they off other specialty coffees which is a nice way to mix it up, but sticking with the Avoca is not a bad choice either. You can enjoy a bottomless cup of their French Pressed coffee for under $4 which is a huge benefit. Also take a peak at the secret menu for some extra surprised like the Hamilton.

 

Edison (Flower Mound)

Another North Dallas favorite that I do not get to frequent. Edison looks to create a better environment for their customers by trying to get to know each of them. The staff believe in the possibility of better, and desire to provide the best farm-to-cup experience in the most ethical way possible. The team of rosters, bristles and creatives understand the full coffee experience and provide it. Not to mention, they were the first shop to provide me with a proper flat white when I first arrived Dallas. I cannot overstate how much I love this Dallas coffeeshop, and their perfect blends of coffee and frothed milk.

Honorable Mentions:

Honorable mentions is not a slight. These are cafes and shops that need to be tried and enjoyed, however, others just stuck with me for some reason. Maybe it was a more personable barista experience, a coffee note hit me just right, or some other reason. The following shops are excellent Dallas coffeeshops and would be a part of any coffee tour that I would put together.

Zenzero (Coppell)

Excellent food and coffee. While the space was tight, I loved my experience here. Easy, spicy chorizo breakfast tacos paired nicely with a bold, dark cup of coffee from Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters. They look to create a full experience, and believe they are nailing it. I hear they are expanding, and I look forward to another visit.

Liberation (C0ppell)

Sering Eiland Coffee like Union mentioned above, the Chemex was spot on. The only downside was my interactions here. Those working were knowledgeable enough, but seemed uncomfortable when I was asking questions. I will definitely go back, especially with so many friends living in the area. One other positive were the weekend hours, open later on Sundays in an area where stores traditionally close down earlier.

(All photos used via Facebook pages of each coffeeshop.)