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Impact of a Fair, Festival or Event
Recreation, Travel, and Tourism Institute, Clemson University

(Reprinted with permission.)
Event assessment or analysis has historically been accomplished in a cursory manner. As long as promoting agencies generated the money they wanted, everyone was happy. More and more, however, organizers are looking for more formal studies of festivals. These studies can assist in determining prime markets and how to reach them with limited advertising budgets, and in determining economic impacts of events.

So called "input-output" studies to account for every dollar brought into a community by a festival and every dollar taken out are tedious, expensive, and generally not really necessary. Clemson University, in South Carolina, has developed a simplifi ed procedure for assessing the economic impact of local festivals and other special events, which should satisfy all but the most fastidious of accountants.

Economic Impact Flow Chart

Some state tourism offices provide both fi nancial and technical support to festivals as part of their mission to attract out-of-state visitors; but before they commit funds, they want to see convincing evidence that the event really does draw from across state lines. Evidence that often infl uences funding comes from economic impact studies that show proof of positive economic benefit.

Event survey instruments (questionnaires) should be kept to a minimum length. Festival-goers do not want to spend a half-hour being interviewed or fi lling out a questionnaire. Usually, local residents can be exempted from many of the questions asked of non-residents. Properly setting up the questionnaire makes this difference easy to implement.

One final note on such surveys; they should be dated and times noted. While most information sought is in the form of averages or totals, time lines are also important for future festival planning. For example, if spending appears to decline dramatically after certain hours or on certain days (and this can be double-checked with vendors), then planners may consider curtailing event operations during these times or shifting the event to other days of the week.

Group or individual types attending the event may also change during various hours or days of the event. This knowledge helps schedule entertainment or other attractions within the event. This information can be especially useful and even critical if the event attracts group tours.

(Reprinted with permission.)
Lifecycle Recreation, Travel, and Tourism Institute, Clemson University

It has been known for some time that products have life cycles. This is why product marketers are continually offering the public "new" and "improved" versions. More recently, it has been discovered that tourist destinations-especially resorts-appear to experience similar lifecycle fluctuations. Fairs and festivals are no different.

If an event is strictly local in nature, it must invariably saturate the local market, unless the locality is experiencing real population growth. If the population is stable or declining, event attendance will follow suit and either stabilize or decline. Even if attendance stabilizes, yearly cost increases caused by infl ation, if not matched by local population's salaries, will cause event net income to decline.
Locally marketed events usually reach this point within five to six years after their initiation. To counteract this cycle, event operators must either
  1. expand the promotional efforts beyond the local population; and/or
  2. improve the product, i.e., add to or redesign the event. Either usually calls for additional funding and certainly for creative thinking. Either or both efforts should begin before the event reaches its "mature" stage. A "ho-hum" reputation is difficult to overcome and more costly than prevention.
Three relatively inexpensive ways to expand an event's market are through radio and television public service announcements (PSAs), travel writers, and familiarization (FAM) tours.

 

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