The Outpost: the future tradeshow model?

Photo: David Wajsfeiner
Photo: David Wajsfeiner

Experiential marketing takes on a fresh form at new outdoor-based gathering | The Outpost Co-founder Jeff Wolfe on “forgoing quantity for intimate quality”

About a year ago, several Bay Area entrepreneurs conceptualized a new idea over beers. The thought was to get people out of a sterile office-like environment (we can all relate to that) and into nature to experience first-hand products they are excited about. This weekend, that model is coming to life in the form of The Outpost, the first event of its kind bringing together brand leaders, buyers, media, and influencers at Chanslor Ranch in Bodega Bay, California.

The 378-acre ocean view horse ranch will play host to 150 guests, ranging from Upworthy to Goal Zero, Suja Juice, Barebones Living, and Oru Kayak, just to name a few. Co-founder Jeff Wolfe, who hails from the agency world and has worked for companies like FILTER magazine, says the concept spun off from an idea of building a new platform for the companies and products he and his coworkers admired most.

“I’ve been to a lot of trade shows over the years and I never felt that I got out of them what I was looking for,” explains Wolfe. “It was always the same thing --I’d walk around a convention room floor, try to make friends with strangers, and patiently wait for the early evening happy hour. It just felt like a bad model, at least for me.”


A legend for The Outpost inaugural event, taking place Friday October 7-Sunday, October 9, just outside of Bodega Bay, California.

Together with Caleb Morairty, co-creator of Uneri Agency, Wolfe joined forces with Eric Bach, founding member of Hipcamp, and Evan Dudley of Rumpl to form a dream team of creative minds looking to shake up the status quo.

The Outpost’s motto is simple: it promises to give back a higher level ROI than a traditional model. Product won’t just be showcased, it will be experienced, “Meaning you’ll sleep in our tent partner’s tent, row our kayak partner’s kayak, and wear boots provided by our shoe partner.”

We just wanted to build out a new platform that would give the participants more value.

The Outpost

The Outpost Founders Caleb Morairty and Jeff Wolfe. Photo: David Wajsfeiner

Part of creating the Outpost platform was putting quality before quantity, says Wolfe. “The outpost is intentionally a smaller event, forgoing participant quantity for intimate participant quality.”

The team understands the importance of creating tangible takeaways, in addition to the grassroots, experiential marketing value. As a participant, companies also receive access to “white label” content that can be used to promote their own product after the event. Outpost is staffing photographers and cinematographers onsite to capture every element of the weekend, which includes surfing, kayaking, yoga sessions, wood working and photography clinics, and live music.

Some of the more exciting elements for Wolfe and crew include the Barebones shelters (“It’s going be a bit like a hotel,” he jokes), a star gazing night powered by PAX and music by Christopher Willits, and a primitive skills workshop lead by charity partner Elemental Awareness.

The vibe is meant to be fun and friendly, and those coming out to “glamp” need only bring the basics--all else is provided.

“It’s amazing how well received the project has been,” Wolfe says. “It’s like people have been starving for something like this.”

The event kicks off Friday, October 7. Attendance is closed to the public and sold out for outdoor industry participants.

Wolfe says he envisions bringing this model to life in the future not just for one industry, but many: “We’ve always seen the idea of The Outpost as something that could expand to all verticals: lifestyle, culinary, sport, and the list goes on.”

Additional event partners include GrindTV, Lems Shoes, Forty Creek Whiskey, Goose Island Brewery, 18 Rabbits, Mountain Standard, Miir, Equator Coffee, and Igloo Coolers.