DMAI's Event Impact Calculator - Travel Portland 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 Travel Portland harnesses the power of economic impact data for its destination and meeting planner business.

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DMAI's Event Impact Calculator - Travel Portland Case Study

  1. 1. DMAI’s Event Impact Calculator Travel Portland n today’s world of data- driven business, DMOs are less than immune from the overwhelming demand from stakeholders for visibility and robust measurement of their performance to ensure that the travel and tourism industry continues to do for its community as the community does for the industry. Portland, Oregon is no exception, which welcomed 8.4 million visitors in 2013. These visitors helped ease the tax burden from residents by contributing $191.2 million in tax revenues, of which half were local. In return, Portland is taking a proactive approach toward developing its tourism product, notably through a Tourism Improvement District ordinance that passed in 2012, to enhance the Portland area as a destination for meetings and leisure and provide Travel Portland, its DMO, an alternate source of funding directly through the hotel community to promote the region. It is projected that approximately 13.6% of new funds would go towards convention sales and marketing. Maintaining reliable numbers, therefore, was and continues to be a priority for Travel Portland. Prior to utilizing DMAI’s Event Impact Calculator, Travel Portland like many DMOs relied on the industry’s ExPact numbers, which had not been updated for several years. Left with those numbers to start with, the organization then created its own formula based on an internal analysis of their local data. “We took actualized revenue at the convention center, average daily rates (ADR) from hotels, and more,” Mike Smith, Travel Portland’s Vice President of Convention Sales explained, “It was a lot of averages, but from all of that, we were able to come up with a very rough approximate revenue I
  2. 2. DMAI’s Event Impact Calculator Portland, Oregon | User Case Study We can feel confident about the numbers we are reporting, both internally and to the community, especially knowing that the third party is continuing to fine-tune the data. “ Mike Smith, Vice President of Convention Sales Travel Portland per room night figure that we utilized across all market segments, with some tweaks depending on the group.” The greatest weakness in the model however came in the problem of maintenance, which was addressed when Travel Portland started with the Event Impact Calculator when it released in 2011. “The calculator got us out of the game of providing the data. The calculator takes much more into account when determining the estimates than our home-grown formula did, and hence, is more accurate as a consistent industry standard for projecting revenue,” Smith said. Indeed, Travel Portland’s position is to strengthen the region’s economy by marketing the metropolitan Portland region as a preferred destination for meetings, conventions and leisure travel. While providing evidence of its effectiveness is part of the organization’s business, its expertise is in destination promotion and not necessarily economic analysis. As Smith commented, “[The calculator] got us out of the game of providing the data. The data now comes from a neutral third party that has no ‘dog in the fight’ as to how much revenue our groups generate. You could say the Event Impact Calculator is viewed as more trustworthy than we are. As industry standards and estimates change, so will our calculator, without us having to try to determine those changes ourselves.” The staff, however, still takes responsibilityfor collecting accurate inputs and continuously confirming the calculator’s estimates to actual numbers afterward. This method of control has allowed Travel Portland to identify where certain inputs need to be tweaked for greater accuracy and takes advantage of the calculator’s flexibility to do so when the case requires. “Our sales managers are responsible for determining, for every group, the data input fields via a standardized worksheet. We have created an EIC worksheet based on EIC input datapoints -- each of our sales managers completes a sheet for every lead generated. The completed sheet, containing such information as Event Start Date, Event End Date, Room Nights, Persons Per Room, Overnight Attendees, Convention Center Rental, et cetera, is given to an assistant. The assistants then input the data; run reports based on the worksheets and enter the revenue information into our CRM solution. While many of the fields required by the calculator merge directly from our CRM, some fields may need to be tweaked depending on the group, which is why we require a completed worksheet first,” Smith explains. “Afterward, convention sales leadership is responsible for reviewing and approving results.” Prior to the calculator’s formal adoption, Smith and his team reviewed actual spending data for a number of past years, while running new calculations through the Event Impact Calculator, and compared the results. While the
  3. 3. DMAI’s Event Impact Calculator figures from some individual groups differed, the overall results were very similar, and upon showing the data to the DMO’s funding partners they were able to achieve the buy in to move forward with the calculator’s use. Since then, Smith has found that the calculator provides a reliable estimated income for our convention center and community as a whole. “We can feel confident about the numbers we are reporting, both internally and to the community, especially knowing that the third party is continuing to fine-tune the data,” said Smith. “We do find our convention center data, when defined as ‘organizer spending’ in the calculator to be more accurate and closer to actuals if we subtract the ‘additional costs’ number. Adding it in seems to overinflate overall convention center revenue, so we choose to include the ‘additional costs’ in our total event spending figure instead.” With further research and insights into how other destinations are tracking how the calculator is working for those organizations, DMAI and Tourism Economics will continue to make improvements toward greater accuracy. “Based on continued updating and fine-tuning, we definitely are satisfied with the Event Impact Calculator at this time,” concludes Smith. “As new versions and updates get released, we gain more and more confidence in the results.” So much has been Travel Portland’s confidence in the tool that the organization uses the Event Impact Calculator to help develop future projections that inform its revenue goals relating to its convention center and its overall city spending goal with the city itself. Therefore, Travel Portland publishes future revenue estimates for convention center business, single hotel business and also for overall total city revenue in: 1. Monthly, quarterly, and fiscal year reports, 2. Monthly newsletters, and 3. To the meeting organization if requested. Smith and his team share two primary estimates, total business sales as the citywide number and organization spend for the convention center, internally with Travel Portland leadership, Board of Directors, political leaders and media as requested. The organization has also found the taxes generated and jobs supported information is insightful as this level of interpretation was not available through their previous model. • Portland, Oregon | User Case Study
  4. 4. Michael Smith serves as Vice President of Convention Sales for Travel Portland, which has been contracted to market the Oregon Convention Center to potential users nationally. Smith received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology in 1972 from Willamette University, Salem, and a Master of Arts in Management Science in 1977 from Webster Uni- versity, St. Louis. He is a member of Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association (HSMAI), Oregon Society of As- sociation Management (OSAM), American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), Professional Con- vention Management Association (PCMA), Meeting Professionals International (MPI), and the Asso- ciation of Convention Marketing Executives (ACME). Smith is a native of Oregon and has lived in the Portland area for twenty-five years. He and his wife Jacquie have two sons. Smith has been with Travel Port- land since 1987; prior to that, he was with Kah-Nee-Ta Resort for two years as Director of Sales; and with La Mansion hotels in San Antonio, Texas for four years as Assistant Director of Sales. About Mike Smith Vice President of Convention Sales Travel Portland DMAI’s Event Impact Calculator Portland, Oregon | User Case Study