Ann Wheeler had never really planned to set up Santa’s quarters on Morayfield Shopping Centre’s parking lot. Once she added some “wow factor” to the center’s holiday programming, though, she found herself with no other choice.
“We started doing fireworks with our Santa’s arrival [event], but it got so popular that we couldn’t fit all of the people inside the center, so our choices were to down size or look for another location,” explained Wheeler, the Australian center’s marketing manager.
“Being that Christmas can be a financially tough time of year, this [event] is very community based. You can bring a chair or rug and go straight out to the carols. Just about everything is free or has a very low price point. Having the delightful Queensland weather, there is nothing better than sitting under the stars [to watch] a great Skylighter Fireworks show! It has grown into a full Christmas Carols show in the car park.”
With much more space at her disposal, and the clear advantage of a southern hemisphere location that has the beginning of summer in early December, Wheeler has been able to experiment with different themes and concepts for the holidays. Each year, Santa arrives at Morayfield in a unique way—on a train, during a magic show, skydiving with his elves and, last year, by helicopter. All of these stunts are much easier to pull off without a roof to worry about.
The 2011 Santa Spectacular offered visiting families lots of choice, with various covered stages set up in the upper south parking lot for acts such as The Raggs Band, the Mumble and Gloria costumed characters from Happy Feet, fire performers and Pepper’s Jazz Band, most of which Morayfield booked through the Ultimate Entertainment agency.
The car park is also where the center held its Seniors Afternoon Tea, before Santa’s arrival, and it gave retailers a chance to get involved in a big way, providing the catering, prizes, special deals and product demonstrations for the event.
Still, despite the convenience of hosting shoppers outdoors, Morayfield does offer some of its holiday programming indoors.
“We like to have entertainment inside and outside, so that nobody misses out on the action,” Wheeler said.
“This also helps with traffic flow around the center. We always have free fairy floss inside and roving entertainment, and we always finish the show at the Santa set with a Christmas carol and a balloon drop in the atrium.”
That strategy maintains the connection between entertainment and productivity goals, as Wheeler noted.
“It’s a huge traffic day and, apart from the week of Christmas, some retailers have the biggest trade day of the year [during the Santa Spectacular event].”
- Media launch: Morayfield and host Hogs Breath Café invited metro and regional media to come in on a Friday to preview some of the acts scheduled to perform at Santa’s big arrival event on November 24. Guests, all of whom Morayfield treated to nibbles and drinks, received a kit that included details of the program and the biographies of the performing artists.
- Signage: in-center and street signs
Brisbane — Metro
- Quest community newspapers
- APN News & Media publication
- Letterbox drop: 130,000 copies, metro and regional coverage
- 105.3 FM
- 97.3 FM
- 98.9 FM
- 4KQ 693 AM
Sunshine Coast — Regional
- Channel 7
- Channel 11