Make Your Site Easy To Navigate

I recently set off on a road trip only knowing the general direction I was headed, but not the slightest idea where I was going once I got off the highway.  But I wasn’t worried, I had my trusty GPS riding shotgun.

Our culture depends so heavily on others telling us where to go and what to do, if we are left to find our own way we are startled and confused.  And maybe even appalled at the “low level of customer service.”

Imagine if you were in a mall and you stopped an employee to ask for a map so you could find your favorite store and he simply looked at you and said, “You’re on your own kid.”  You would be left to aimlessly wander around trying to find Dillard’s.  Now if it were me, I’d say “Forget it!” and find another place to shop that seemed to actually care that I found my way.

The same goes for your website.  If a customer arrives and can’t find the piece of information they are looking for, they may throw their hands up and quit.

The navigation of your site is key. You need to take time to think about how your customers will look for information and cater to them.  You will have some very happy customers if you simply  give them site navigation that makes sense and allows your visitors the ability to quickly and easily find the event information they need.

We all know your event information is intricate, so make it accessible, highly filterable and easy to sort. A great website provides visitors with a tailored user experience, allowing customers to search and browse as they see fit.

So take the time to plan out your website’s navigation the same way you plan out the schedule of events for your fair, festival or rodeo.  Use logic and you can’t go wrong.

2011 Global Rodeo Conference

I just got back from the Global Rodeo Conference in Omaha, Nebraska and I’m so excited to tell you about the great experiences I had on September 22-23.  I attended the conference to give a presentation called “Is Your Website All Hat and No Cattle?”

It focused on the importance of Google being able to find websites, the benefits of using social media and how web design can help increase revenue online.  I was especially happy to see that our friends from Rodeo Austin, were in Omaha for the conference!  I really appreciated their support for my presentation and it was great to see them.

Although my presentation went well, my trip ended up being about so much more! I was thrilled to learn as much as I could about rodeo from the other speakers.  One of the presentations was given by the Vice President and COO of Rodeo Houston, Leroy Shafer.

He gave the history of the rodeo from the time it was established in 1931 and how they now run the biggest rodeo in America. It was great listening to their story of success over the years from someone who has actually been there through it all.  He mentioned how the current rodeo audience is growing older and it made me realize the necessity and relevance of the work we do here at Saffire. Online marketing reaches a younger crowd and will help keep rodeo relevant.

I was also thrilled to meet so many great people in attendance at the conference. After working with Rodeo Austin, one of my favorite things to do is to listen to how different committees make their rodeos tick and how each of them are unique in their own way. By the end of my time in Omaha, I felt like I knew so much more about how rodeo works, and I really enjoyed meeting a lot of new friends.

Finally, since the conference was going on at the same time as the 2011 Justin Boots Championship Rodeo & the Ak-Sar-Ben 4H Stock Show, I had to go see some of the action! (You all know I’m a rodeo girl at heart!) I had the chance to see some of the animals out back behind the conference center and some of the cattle in the livestock show.  At the end of the two day conference, I felt that the Global Rodeo Conference was not only fun but also such a learning experience.

I want to personally thank the members of the Association of Rodeo Committees for allowing me to participate!  I had a wonderful time and can’t wait until next year!

Brazos Valley Fair Ribbon Cutting

Congratulations to the Brazos Valley Fair on their official ribbon cutting last night!  It was a great evening filled with fair-food and lots of support from the community.  We were so glad we were able to be a part of the celebration.

Cassie enjoyed the yummy funnel cakes provided by Lazy B Catering.

Rebekah was happy that Brazos Valley supplied her favorite souvenir: koozies!

Don’t worry, the cowbells were a big hit too!

Travis Boeker, General Manager, told the audience that he contacted TAFE and they could not tell him the last time a fair started from scratch in the state of Texas.  What an accomplishment Brazos Valley!

Travis Boeker and Karl Hengst, Assistant Manager, join with the staff of the Brazos Valley Expo and members of the Board of Directors to officially celebrate the beginning of the Brazos Valley Fair.

Thanks to Brazos Valley for inviting us to be a part of your special evening!  We are grateful for our partnership and can’t wait to come back in 350 days for the beginning of your event!

Maintain Your Website with Ease

The focus of a fair, rodeo or festival is never really the same two days in a row.  As soon as Monday ends, you’re thinking about Tuesday’s evening special.  And when the 2011 fair wraps, planning for 2012 is well under way.

Your website should be just as fluid as you are and ready to promote the next, new thing at the drop of a hat.

It is important to keep your site fresh and up-to-date by changing features and updating event information on the fly.  Your customers will not appreciate how hard it may be to nail down your webmaster for a quick content change.  They just want to know the nightly special as soon as they arrive on your site!

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: we live in an age of instant gratification.

So how can you take control?  We suggest having a friendly admin site which will allow you to efficiently manage your website content, without needing a web developer to do it for you.

Can you imagine being able to make changes to your website instantly and on your own? I know it might sound like something you’ve only dreamed of, but it can now be a reality!

We’ve mentioned before on our blog the power of Do-It-Yourself and how important we think it is, particularly for events.  There is technology available to finally give you the power when it comes to your website, so find the system that works for you.

Help Customers Easily Find Your Site

The truth is, it doesn’t matter how attractive or user-friendly your website is if your customers can’t find you online!

So let’s start by thinking about how you find things on the web.   If you’re looking for a specifc product of event, I’m sure your first step is to go to Google or another search engine.

You type in a simple description of what you’re looking for and gets hundreds, sometimes thousands, of results.

Then you  sift through the results to find what you were looking for.  Sometimes you even feel like Google read your mind and gave you what you were looking for even though the description you entered wasn’t exactly right.

Using a search engine has become so second nature, we often don’t  take time to think how Google works and finds the results we’re looking for.

So for your event website, I’m sure your goal is to be the first result a search engine pulls up so your customers find you quickly.  But in order for your customers to find you quickly, search engines have to find you first.

And that is where SEO comes in.

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” which is incorporating key words and phrases customers use to find your site into both content and HTML.  By incorporating these key words and phrases, a search engine will quickly scan your website and associate it with the terms you use most.

This way, when a customer searches for “Austin Rodeo”, our website for Rodeo Austin will be the first result to appear because those terms appear over and over again on their site.

So as you are writing the content for your website, think like your customer. What words and phrases would you use to find your event website?

Brazos Valley Fair & Expo is Live!

Saffire and the Brazos Valley Fair & Expo are pleased to announce a partnership as we work together to create an online presence for the first annual Brazos Valley Fair & Expo event, scheduled for Fall 2012.   Saffire has designed and launched the website for the event.

The Brazos Valley Fair & Expo is a brand new, mid-sized fair committed to “Showcasing Agriculture, Education and Youth to Enhance our Texas Culture.”  The event will be held September 6-9, 2012 and will include a carnival, rodeo, junior livestock show, open livestock show, family-friendly exhibits, music and entertainment.

The website for the event is now accessible at The site is designed for easy consumer interaction.

“We didn’t know what to expect from web development companies since this is our first event specific website,” said Karl Hengst, Assistant Manager of the Brazos Valley Fair & Expo, “but after the team at Saffire walked us through a demo of their software, we knew it was the right choice.  We saw all the functionality and how user-friendly their sites were, and we felt at ease instantly.  They answered a lot of questions we didn’t even know we had!  We are excited about the future of this partnership with Saffire.”

“We are thrilled to work with the team at the Brazos Valley Fair & Expo to help create and fulfill their vision for this event,” said Kendra Wright, President of Saffire. “And even though this is a brand new event, the fair industry has been buzzing with excitement about its launch for quite a while.  We are looking forward to being a part of this new venture and helping them live up to all the hype.”

The Brazos Valley Fair & Expo website includes ecommerce functionality, content management and sponsor, vendor and volunteer administration. It also incorporates an interactive event schedule to help people find and share the events they want to attend.

The Brazos Valley Fair & Expo maintains a cohesive look and feel across their entire online presence by including a blog, Facebook, Twitter and email marketing designed template. It also includes a mobile version of the website so people can access information about the fair from wherever they are.

Congrats to the team at Brazos Valley!  It’s been a pleasure working with you and we can’t wait to see what’s next.