DMAI's Event Impact calculator columbia metro cvb case study


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Following an in-depth study and review of the Event Impact Calculator's use and methodology, DMAI presents a selected case study on how Columbia Metropolitan CVB harnesses the power of economic impact data for its destination and meeting planner business.

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DMAI's Event Impact calculator columbia metro cvb case study

  1. 1. DMAI’s Event Impact Calculator Columbia Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau reated in 1786 as South Carolina’s state capital, Columbia is no stranger to any number of pivotal meetings and conventions in history, most notably the South Carolina Secession Convention which resulted in the state becoming the first of 11 states to secede from the United States in the American Civil War. Fast forward nearly 230 years, and Columbia has enjoyed a boom beyond simply what history has endowed, and is commonly recognized as one of the most livable communities in the country. Boasting an incredibly creative economy by diverse industries, the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports and Tourism, under which operates the Columbia Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau (Columbia CVB), positions the “Famously Hot” capital city as South Carolina’s new hot spot beyond the usual tourist attractions of Charleston or Myrtle Beach. Columbia currently welcomes about 1 million visitors a year, spending an estimated $572 million in the county. However, a simple $572 spend per visitor certainly did not suffice for the Columbia CVB’s needs when understanding the economic impact of meetings and events in their market. According to Jason Outman, Director of Sales & Services for the Columbia CVB, the organization needed a tool that calculated impacts in an efficient manner, using local taxes, room rates and captured the local industry behavior. “When we were made aware that the Event Impact Calculator utilized this information, and incorporated prolonged research for group behaviors, we quickly made the decision to adopt [the tool],” Outman explains. “The Event Impact Calculator has helped C
  2. 2. DMAI’s Event Impact Calculator Columbia, South Carolina | User Case Study The results of these fields help show the relevance of the Columbia CVB and the importance we have on the success of this community “ Jason Outman, Director of Sales & Services Columbia Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau our CVB show a greater economic impact for the region, has made us more credible with data that can be provided to our stakeholders in an instant, and has allowed us to more accurately review potential business for the market.” Previous to using the calculator, the Columbia CVB used a mathematical formula developed through research of the local market, which multiplied the total number of rooms booked by a client with average number of persons per room and a daily per diem spend. However, the numbers were several years old, and the organization became one of the first destinations to adopt DMAI’s new industry standard tool in October 2011. As a small-market DMO, Outman has been a one-man show in the tool’s implementation and continued maintenance, running calculations for all events coming into the city. While the calculator’s results are visible to sales managers and shared with the CVB’s President/CEO and Vice President of Sales and Marketing of the Midlands Authority, all of the collecting, inputting and reporting is done by Outman alone. “The data collection for the Event Impact Calculator is simple,” Outman said. “Since we are integrated with Simpleview, a large portion of the data is merged with the form when creating an impact for a given group.” While the interface between the online tool and the organization’s CRM solution streamlines much of the entry process, Outman also established ways to standardize certain fields according to his market or the type of group. “We did run into some challenges in trying to obtain additional information from meeting planners like persons per room or percent arriving by air, so our organization set standards to use for a few of the fields in the form,” Outman explains. “We based our standards on answers that were received from meeting planners that did respond and used them as the general answer for the fields. For example, a regional meeting in Columbia, due to our central location, was determined to have approximately 45% of the attendees arrive via air. We also set predetermined entries for the number of persons per room based on three categories: Traditional Markets, Sports Groups, and Religious Groups.” With about 11,000 hotel rooms to fill, the Columbia CVB pursues all business willing to consider its city. Therefore, Outman takes advantage of the ability to estimate room night demand, taxes generated, jobs supported, delegate spending and return on investment at present values for a diversity of event types, to inform the CVB’s decisions to award incentives to meeting planners that book his city. However, the primary benefit to using the calculator has been to help underscore the importance of destination promotion as an economic driver to the city, of which meetings and conventions are only a part. “Unlike most traditional CVBs,
  3. 3. DMAI’s Event Impact Calculator we do not have set funding, and have to apply for funding on an annual basis. The results of these fields help show the relevance of the Columbia CVB and the importance we have on the success of this community,” said Outman. “The calculator has been a great tool for the CVB, and we truly believe that it has helped solve our biggest problem, which is relevance within our community. It shows the impact that we make and provides sufficient data to back it up.” Adoption, therefore, has largely been a widely supported process. Since the previous method used was outdated and did not account for all pertinent information that informs the Event Impact Calculator, the tool was accepted rather quickly. However, it was important for the organization to show its stakeholders exactly how the calculator worked and the research that was completed to make the tool work efficiently and provide accurate results. Interestingly, the only figure that the organization currently uses from the calculator’s report for goal-setting is in regards to annual economic impact. “We explored using the room night figure from the calculator as an addition to our room night goal, but it was not well received in the community,” recounts Outman. “The only field that we share is the direct business sales impact.” The Columbia CVB publishes these results in a monthly report provided to its community partners as well as its Board of Directors, and will use this figure when contacted by media outlets who request the information. Use of this calculator has been sought after by city officials for events that did not book through the Columbia CVB, and the Sports Module to the Event Impact Calculator is also used by the local Sports Council in much the same manner. Looking ahead, Outman is encouraged to learn how other DMOs are addressing the upfront analysis of visitor data. “I would challenge DMAI and CVB administrators to find a more efficient way to capture data such as percent of air travel, overnight visitors and persons per room, since this information is not readily shared by the meeting planner,” he added. “Overall though, we are very satisfied with the Event Impact Calculator, and adoption has actually been a simple process for us.” • Columbia, South Carolina | User Case Study
  4. 4. Jason Outman started in the meetings and conventions industry in 2005, serving as the Corporate Sales Manager at the Georgia World Congress Center. After becoming a National Sales Manager for the GWCC, Outman was then offered the Director of Tradeshow sales position with the Cobb County Convention and Visitors Bureau. In 2010, Outman accepted the position as Director of Sales in Columbia, SC for the Columbia Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau and Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. In April 2014, his titled changed to Director of Sales & Services for the bureau. He has served the past four years on the DMAI Sales & Marketing Committee, and recently received his MBA in Hospitality & Tourism Management. About Jason Outman Director of Sales & Services Columbia Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau DMAI’s Event Impact Calculator Columbia, South Carolina | User Case Study