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Does Your Festival or Event Make Cent$

Does Your Festival or Event Make Cent$



Presentation given during a workshop for the Great Rivers Country and Land of Lincoln Regional Tourism Development Offices in Springfield, IL on May 27, 2014.

Presentation given during a workshop for the Great Rivers Country and Land of Lincoln Regional Tourism Development Offices in Springfield, IL on May 27, 2014.



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  • Once you know the value of the event, it’s easy to prove that the return was worth the expense.
  • Sponsors will be more inclined to return next year and new sponsors can be attracted with the kind of data you get from an economic impact analysis. Sponsors will know not only how much money is being spent at your event, they will also learn: <br /> some demographic information like where the attendees live; <br /> product and venue information like what specific activities the attendees liked or wanted to improve upon; <br /> what media outlet they heard about the event from; and <br /> what new activities they would like to see at next year’s event.
  • Now that you have some data, you know what areas need to be improved upon in future events. Without benchmarking, you’ve got no way to know if you’re meeting your goals.
  • In many towns, it’s not just one organization that puts on the event – it’s typically a partnership between 2 or more sponsoring entities. Many of these organizations will continue to participate because of community pride or just because it’s the right thing to do. But wouldn’t it be nice if you could show them the value of their participation?
  • With the data, you now know what the people want … what they’ll spend their money on … what will bring them back next year. When additional funding is available, you’ll know exactly where to spend it. Attendees may have told you that you need more children’s activities. The data will prove it and you can request the funding to add that kids’ area with confidence.
  • The same type of information that is valuable to sponsors should also be valuable to you. Use an economic impact analysis as an opportunity to get to know your attendees a little better. This is some actual data from a study I did recently in my home town of Round Rock, TX. During a downtown event, we asked local attendees how often they came to downtown and these were the results. With this and a few other questions, the City now has a better understanding of how and why locals patronize downtown and downtown businesses.
  • The economic impact comes ONLY from spending generated by out of town attendees at your event. Otherwise that money comes from locals and would have been spent elsewhere in your community. There are other studies you can do to get data from local event attendees. Local spending data CAN help you determine your ROI. <br /> Doing an EIA will take man-power. You’ll need volunteers to help with data collection. It will also take time and planning. If none of these are available to you, an EIA is not right for you. <br /> If you’re only interested in getting data from local attendees, you do not need an EIA.
  • We’re going to use a fictitious event to illustrate the three methods of conducting an EIA. Each method has varying degrees of complexity and accuracy. Each method also has its strengths and flaws, and only local leaders and event organizers can decide which method will work best for them.
  • Method 1 is the easiest and fastest way to produce an EIA. No surveying is required. However, it is also the least accurate. 
  • This is just an estimate of the actual impact. This method assumes that every single participant spent $100.00, when in reality, some may have spent nothing. This method also doesn’t account for spectator spending, which could effect the result.
  • Method 2 is still relatively easy to do, but does require a little more work. Surveying is still not required, but there is some primary data collection. The accuracy is improved over Method 1. You also have to be comfortable making some assumptions. <br /> <br />  Credit for the development of this method goes to Roger Hanagriff, Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications at Texas A&M University.
  • Again, this is just an estimate. However, this time it’s based on some actual spending that took place in Springfield. But making the assumption that the spending on lodging in the U.S. was the same percentage of lodging in Michigan may have under-estimated your impact. Your hotels may have been full and lodging may have represented a higher percentage than 23% for this event.
  • Or maybe you want some professional help. Wait, not THAT kind of professional help …
  • Accuracy. EIAs done by a professional will be much more accurate. They are based on actual spending data and not generalized estimates. That being said, they are still an inexact science. They will be based on actual attending spending data and should use a model to determine the impact that represents your local economy.
  • You can avoid the perception of the fox watching the hen house by using an unbiased 3rd party to conduct the study and present the results. Not to mix metaphors, but this eliminates the ability for critics to say that you’re cooking the books.
  • Credibility. It’s as if you put the Good Housekeeping seal of approval on the project. You’re hiring a professional to do your study. This is what they do. They are experienced in conducting EIAs, and their results will be credible.
  • Method 3 is hiring a professional. Every professional’s process will vary slightly, but there are a few commonalties that you should look for. These are based on primary data – or surveys – and will provide results based on your local economy.
  • But they can’t do any of this in a vacuum. They will need your input during every phase of the project.
  • Other spending categories can be added: <br /> Specific retail categories (boutiques, sporting goods, craft vendors, etc.) <br /> Food vendors <br /> Bars <br /> <br /> Other questions can be added to find out more about your attendees and what they liked or didn’t like about your event. <br /> favorite/least favorite activity <br /> how did you hear? <br /> first time attendee or repeat customer? <br /> where did you stay? <br /> what would you add?
  • Require survey volunteers to approach every Nth person to ensure that any festival attendee has an equal chance to be surveyed. This also eliminates surveying bias on the part of the volunteers. Once you know how many people to sample, how many volunteers are available, and how many hours the volunteers will work, you can determine the sampling interval (e.g., every 4th, 7th, 10th person, etc.). <br /> <br /> Sample size estimator developed by John Crompton, PhD from Texas A&M University. <br />
  • Visitor counts = Have volunteers stationed at the major points of entry. Every hour, have them count every person they see for 15 minutes. 15 minutes represents 25% of the visitor count for that hour. The counts can then be extrapolated to produce the total attendance. <br /> <br /> Traffic counts = Counting the number of cars and an average number of people per vehicle. <br /> <br /> High vantage point = Use a tall building, etc. where most of the event can be seen. Then count visitors using a grid overlay of the event at either a peak attendance time or at scheduled intervals throughout the day. <br /> <br /> Tag and recapture = Distribute buttons or stickers to a randomly selected group of attenedees for them to wear prominently during the event. When the crowd reaches a maximum size, volunteers can count “tagged” and untagged attendees within a defined boundary. Then use a formula to calculate total event attendance. <br /> <br /> Aerial photography = Similar to a high vantage point, but from an airplane. Schedule fly-overs for a peak attendance time or at intervals and apply the grid system to count.

Does Your Festival or Event Make Cent$ Does Your Festival or Event Make Cent$ Presentation Transcript