Bristol International Balloon Fiesta


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This presentation was given at the APM South Wales and West of England branch AGM on 21st May 2014, in Bristol.

The chairman introduced Ben Hardy of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Ben explained that he has been involved with the fiesta since 2000, and the full time event director since 2010.

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta was started in 1979 by Don Cameron. It is run as a not for profit company with a board of 8 trustees, Don being the Chairman. Its constitution requires it to be a credit to Bristol, promote employment in the area and be free from admission charges. It is known worldwide and attracts some 500,000 visitors each year.

Ben outlined the organisational structure and his team’s role in project managing the event each year. The fiesta costs £596K per year, with an income of £600K which is weather dependent, and so represents a considerable financial risk. The fiesta is good for the local economy, for every £1 in costs, it is estimated that £15 is spent in the local economy by visitors from outside the local area. The fiesta has huge media impact, with 1.891 billion circulation figures worth nearly £2M in marketing value.

Before the recession, the event was supported by key sponsors who underpinned the financial risk, but this is no longer the case. Some sponsorship is gained via the ‘100 Club’ of local Bristol firms, but the financial risk is clear and the event has needed ever tighter planning and management.

Ben explained some of the challenges he has had to deal with, including improving crowd safety, establishing a value for money focussed procurement strategy, getting the ballooning community re-engaged, and attracting visitors for the whole day to help increase foot-fall for the traders. Ben described his role as multidisciplinary.

A lot of time is spent on managing the stakeholders, the local councils and residents. The fiesta is seen as Bristol’s event, but Ashton Court is actually in North Somerset, and so the stakeholders have not always been easy to align. There is now an operations planning group with key stakeholders to coordinate and direct the planning.

For the future, a strategic risk register has been developed, which includes plans for alternative venues. This, and the creation of a financial reserve, will help manage the financial risk.

Ben has found the Podio collaborative tool ideal for project managing the fiesta.

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Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

  1. 1. 36th Bristol International Balloon Fiesta Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th August 2014
  2. 2. Contents Context and Background Key Functions Key Challenges A Personal Perspective
  3. 3. The Fiesta Project Manager! 2000 – worked as a member of the Event Team 2003 – invited to join the Organising Committee 2009 – Deputy Chairman of the Organising Committee 2010 – Event Director
  4. 4. About the Fiesta Founded in 1979 Non-profit making company Constitution states: Fiesta should be a credit to the City of Bristol No admission charge to the public Fiesta will promote employment in the local area
  5. 5. Structure
  6. 6. Finances - Income The Fiesta is self funding, generating c. £600k per annum 25% 20% 35% 13% 7% Car Parking Catering Trade Stands Sponsors Other
  7. 7. Finances - Expenditure The Fiesta costs c. £595k per annum 14% 8% 75% 3% Overheads Ballooning Event Services Entertainment
  8. 8. 50% of our visitors travel 50 miles or further Destination Bristol assessment in 2011 concluded a total value of £15 million is spent by non-local people who would not have otherwise been to the city In other words, for every £1 the Fiesta costs, £15 is spent in the local economy by its visitors Economic Impact
  9. 9. Media Impact 2013 circulation figures: 1,891,012,415 Direct media value: £646,179 CIPR approved value: £1,938,539 Massive social media increase: 18,930 Facebook likes (doubled in 2013) reaching 257,554 in a single day and over 1 million people during the event weekend
  10. 10. Film
  11. 11. Our Plans for 2014 One of the most exciting years yet Commemoration of World War One World famous displays from the RAF Seven Mass Ascents featuring 150 hot air balloons Two Nightglows featuring 30 choreographed balloons
  12. 12. The Fiesta – 2010 onwards Dis-engaged private sector Significant concerns from Responsible Authorities No procurement strategy – value for money v. quality of product/service Ballooning community unmotivated
  13. 13. My role – mutli-disciplined Event Management Emergency Planning Marketing Brand Manager Media Exhibition Sales Site Management Retail Accountant Board level to toilet cleaner……..!
  14. 14. Understanding our Functions
  15. 15. Reporting structure back to Organising Committee and Board – templates and time scales Creating teams/departments and identifying their challenges Mapping key stakeholdes and how to communicate with them Delivery: Project Management
  16. 16. Site Management: Procurement Strategy in place Understanding the outputs – site plans, productions schedules, purchase orders Operational Management Engage all partners Clear Meeting schedule and deadlines Delivery
  17. 17. Understanding our Functions
  18. 18. Social Media – gaining commercial value Commercial Opportunities Protecting the environment and event sustainability Creating a reserve The Future
  19. 19. Communicate – and use the right communication at the right time Efficiency – email! Technology Tools for the job Project Management – a personal perspective
  20. 20. cid:B8098F41-1DA2-403A-8A9C- CE81D2D073D3@public