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TravelSmart Special Events Planning Resource Kit

06 - Promotion and Awareness

At a Glance

Promotion is one of four keys to establishing an effective access plan for your special event. The other three key factors were addressed in previous Sections:

You will need to communicate your message clearly and effectively.

This section gives you an understanding of the importance of promotion, different types of communication strategies, producing publicity material, potential marketing mediums, and a brief overview of branding.

The Importance of Promotion

Put simply, providing facilities is useless unless people know about them.

It is important that you choose the mediums in which you will advertise and select a branding strategy before you create your marketing material. Each of these issues is discussed in more detail below.

Potential Mediums

There is a range of promotion mediums available for getting your message out to the public, ranging in complexity and cost. Each of the main mediums has been discussed below. Remember to be innovative!

When choosing your medium/s, consider:


Radio is a popular medium for special events organisers to promote travel options. It also reaches commuters on the move, and can be broadcast live, or advertisements can be played at an appropriate time slot, such as "radio drive time". Your message needs to be short and simple for people to remember. It should direct listeners to sources of information, such as a public transport information line.

It is fairly simple and quick to put together a promotion package for radio and you may also be able to get publicity support from the broadcasters who deal with traffic conditions.

It is essential that you monitor the message being communicated on the radio. If a pessimistic prediction of traffic conditions has been communicated in the lead up to the event, but is not experienced by commuters (because you've done a good job!) it's important that the message doesn't then change to encourage people to drive because conditions are OK.


Whilst television reaches a larger audience than radio, production may be complex and/or costly, and may need a longer lead time.

It is also usual to develop a 'campaign' for television with a variety of messages that all focus on your key objectives. Your message should be simple so that viewers can remember it.

For the larger events, such as final sports matches, it may be possible to include public transport banners or information lines with the event advertisement. This will assist people in knowing where they can look for more information about travel choices or ticket options to the event.

Perhaps in your advertising you can show people arriving at your event using public transport. Some of the television advertisements show people arriving in their team scarfs and jumpers on the train - these images can help to reinforce your message that people like to travel to events by train.

When booking your advertisement, consider the best time to broadcast it - eg. time slot, and during which TV programs.


The Internet tends to be an effective medium for promoting transport choices for special events. "Dynamic" information can easily be updated if services change. A website is an excellent source of information and there is no restriction on the quantity of content and graphics. Messages can be easily tailored to the readers, eg. "if coming from central Brisbane click here". Readers can easily print out pages as a reference.

You could link your event web site with your local public transport operator web sites and public transport information service if there is one in your area. You could also ask these services to create an event specific page on the public transport information service web site.

Don't forget to include your website address on all promotional and publicity material. Also consider advertising your website on other portals or search engines to really get your message across. Not all your audience will have access to the Internet or be familiar with it, so use this in conjunction with other media.

Mail or Print

Targeted mail-outs or leaflets are a good way of promoting transport information if you can accurately identify the location of the people who will be travelling to your event. The most effective way of doing this is to include a walking, cycling and public transport map with the event ticket.

Event planners for the 2003 Rugby World Cup developed a targeted leaflet promotion that aimed to educate visitors about their travel choices to events. The leaflet provided public transport information and maps, and was distributed to hotels used by rugby fans.

It is important to be innovative with mail or print messages and to identify your target audience; otherwise this medium can become costly and ineffective. You may be able to include other sponsor's leaflets that will help cover your costs.

It is also essential that your marketing information does not become out-of-date because of service changes.


Newspapers are a common way of providing transport information for special events. There are a range to choose from, including national papers, local papers and special magazine inserts.

This medium is well suited to publicising transport information because it is possible to use images, diagrams and text to convey your message. Newspapers are easily accessible, timely, and your message can be cut out and used as a reference. It is fairly cost effective to create and place advertisements.

For larger events it may be possible to promote your transport message through daily news articles by contacting the relevant editor. You should issue press releases at appropriate times to maintain the momentum of your message. Remember to keep reinforcing the positive aspects of public transport and the problems that may occur if visitors drive.


Magazines have a longer lead time for production, so you need more forethought and planning before booking. Be careful not to commit any information that might change as the event gets closer, and to phrase information in such a way that it will not go out of date.


A toll-free phone number could be used to promote the event and answer questions about transport, times etc. This could be publicised on your promotional material. Make sure that staff answering the phones are well trained and can cope with the incoming call demand. You may consider using a call centre.


Some special events services have used branding to great effect. For example the 1998 Sydney Royal Easter Show created a brand focussed on a frog (a species found in Homebush Bay, where the event is held). The brand also included a transport slogan:

"Hop on a train, hop on a bus, get there without a fuss - follow the frog to the Royal Easter Show".

The frog emblem was used to mark Royal Easter Show vehicles, such as special bus services. This system made it much clearer for visitors to identify vehicles that would get them to and from the show. The brand was also included on all marketing information, such as newspaper campaigns to reinforce the message.

Remember to keep colours, fonts, graphics and symbols constant to increase recognition.

You could apply your brand to the uniforms of staff that will be assisting visitors to find transport services, or directing crowds.

Producing Publicity Material

Keep the message clear and simple: 'it will be easy by public transport, hard by car'.

Try to organise the flow of information in your marketing to promote walking, cycling and public transport - put these modes first and make the information clear and easy to understand. Information about car access and parking should come last in the message.

Use positive and negative phrases to reinforce your message. For example, you could use some of the following words to encourage people to use public transport:

When discussing information about car facilities, change the message to discourage people from driving. You could use some of the following words to strengthen your message:

Access Maps

An access map summarises the transport access to your site or venue. You will have gathered most of the information you need for your access map during the event audit stage of your planning.

Your map should show pedestrian routes (and gate locations for events with multiple accesses), information for cyclists (including locker and rack locations), public transport stops, travel times to nearest hubs, a summary of timetable information (perhaps the frequency of services from the stop - i.e. every 5 minutes), and any other information that people need to know to get to your event safely and easily without driving. Remember to use times instead of distances - this helps people to plan their trip more easily. Be realistic about estimated travel times, especially if your patrons include the elderly or less-able, or people with small children.

Grand Prix Map - Click to Enlarge
Grand Prix Map - Click to Enlarge
Source: Australian Grand Prix Corporation

Don't forget to include your access map on your promotional material - you could even include a small version on the back of event tickets. Here is an example of the Melbourne Formula One Grand Prix circuit map, which shows the location of pedestrian gates and public transport facilities.

The NSW Ministry of Transport has created a series of pictograms available for use in marketing transport choices with a best practice guide for passenger transport signage and displays.

Here are some examples of the pictograms
Sign Sign Sign Sign Sign Sign
Sign Sign Sign Sign Sign Sign

Source: NSW Ministry of Transport

The pictograms must be used in accordance with the usage guidelines available from the Ministry of Transport web site:

Please also follow the guidelines on the Ministry of Transport website regarding copyright.

The following images have been created by the WA Department for Planning and Infrastructure for TravelSmart projects. You could use some of these images on your access map to highlight the locations of important features, such as bike lockers, bus stations or train stations.

Signage images

Source: WA Department for Planning and Infrastructure, Asset Information Branch

If you would like to use the images above, a copy of your publication produced using the pictograms should be sent to the Section Leader (Cartography), WA Department for Planning and Infrastructure, PO Box 402, Fremantle, WA, 6959. If used on a website, the web address of the page(s) on which the pictogram(s) appear should also be provided to the above address.