Outdoor festival turned around by corporate events company

Using experience with corporate events management, Goose Live Events has revived the Silverstone Classic, now the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival.

Picture this scene. A major outdoor public festival, which began in the early 90s, and still after many years never achieved its potential in terms of attendance and revenues, never breaking through into profitability. Rash decisions had been made to revive its popularity but further dives below profitability are the only result. Sound familiar? Who would you look toward to actually revive it?

A corporate event specialist more used to running product launches and leadership meetings and AGMs, is possibly not your first choice when looking for a turnaround solution.  However, that is exactly the story that has set the Silverstone Classic, now in its 25th year, on a path of amazing recovery now seeing increased attendance, sponsorship revenue and trade exhibitors.

Nick Wigley, racing driver and CEO of corporate (now corporate and public!) events company Goose Live Events, stepped in when the Silverstone Classic was at its lowest ebb.

He is now able to share the experience of using skills learnt over decades of corporate events with a whole new event sector.

Nick says:  “We simply focused all we knew about producing a great experience for a corporate participant into producing an equally great experience for those attending the classic, be they spectator, competitor, classic car owner or corporate sponsor”

“We found that many of our existing skill sets cross over into the festival and public sector.  In particular the corporate sponsors we already understood and could seamlessly provide the services required to make their involvement meaningful and beneficial.”

“When designing a corporate event, you focus on the energy levels of the participants and design a journey/experience that exposes them to many different elements to keep the day interesting and engaging.  Thus meeting the objectives of the event.  Why would you not do the same at a public event?”

How was this achieved?

Goose Live Events used its corporate expertise and knowledge along with impeccable attention to detail in order to re-evaluate each and every aspect of the festival.

A new strategy was devised after understanding the internal issues and external threats and which areas needed growth. Here follows the first five key points:

1. Focus on the visitor experience.

Just as with events for corporate clients, from ticket purchase to spectating to post-event discussion, the team evaluated and improved each and every point of the visitor journey. New activities were devised to engage visitors whilst signage, information leaflets and pre-event communication all received an upgrade.

Image 1: The Scarf and Goggles – a popular tradition brought back to relive fond memories.

2. Aim big and be bold about it.

We aimed to move Silverstone Classic to become ‘The World’s Biggest Classic Motor Racing Festival’ which was achieved through the enormous number of race entries the event now receives every year. Furthermore, allowing car clubs to be involved and feel a part of the event, by giving them a space and presence to own, has led to massive numbers of classic car owners attending with their vehicles on display – an integral part of the event content.

Image 2: Masters Historic Formula One – you won’t see a grid this size in modern F1!

3. Obtain major industry status.

After building a respected brand and an experience enjoyed by competitors, grids are now clamouring for race time each year and grids we accept are often over-subscribed. This helped the event gain major status within the international racing community, winning several recognised awards.

Image 3: Martin Stretton, a familiar name in historic racing, gets out of the 1983 Tyrrell 012

4. Broaden the audience appeal.

Understanding your audience and their ticket purchase decision process can unlock massive potential in broadening the appeal of the event. Keep in mind, however, that you must remain aligned with your core event attraction and USP.

Simply put, the majority of classic motor racing fans (predominantly 35-65 male) have families and fall in to higher income brackets. Targeting families more effectively and attaching the tag line ‘flat out family fun’ with a vast array of activities to back it up has meant there is something for everyone to do. Naturally, growing the evening music concerts with quality and highly relevant acts (this year headlined by Status-Quo) projects the festival to a further audience too whilst completing the package for others. Families, and most importantly parents, now see the Silverstone Classic as a great day and even weekend out. The opportunity to take children to a family festival, in a safe but exciting environment, is a brilliant experience. With motorsport at the core, it’s also cool, classic and exhilarating.

Image 4: An extensive activation with JET Fuels saw smiling families even when it was not this sunny!

5. Increase the quality of infrastructure.

The infrastructure of an event can be make or break for a visitor’s experience, it’s also an aspect they look back on and compare to other events. Goose Live Event has had much experience in creating the highest quality stage sets and production as well as logistical planning. These skills transfer well to public festivals where the number of visitors really tests build quality and in the UK you need to plan for both torrential rain and unexpected sun!

Image 5: The JET Village Green featured infrastructure to cope with both rain or shine.

The above points are just some of the first goals Goose Live Events achieved with Silverstone Classic; once they were established we continued moving forward with further understanding of the audience. Increased on-site dwell time, rapid increases in camping numbers, celebrity involvement and attraction with major manufacturers are all benefits that have arisen along with achieving event profitability. We put this down to the superb event build, impeccable attention to detail and smooth logistics – all a result of our event experience for corporate clients.


Look out for our forthcoming blog post on achieving a balance between tradition and profitability with public festivals.

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