Nothing brings a community together like a strong event. The annual celebrations held in all towns, food festivals and holiday events create energy like none other. Events and festivals bring families together and often celebrate a community’s heritage. Most importantly, they create a concentrated volume of activity centered in the city’s downtown. They can really showcase a community’s identity. What surprises me, is that very few festivals and events gather data and measure its impact. Many do not know if the event really makes sense.
If you’re in charge of a significant event or festival for your community, I would propose you look no further than these six reasons for conducting an economic impact study.
1. It shows a return on investment.
Festivals require a lot of resources, time and money. If you’re like most, each year you find yourself fighting for your budget, which almost certainly is not enough. If you can prove the spending that occurs within the community as a direct result of the event, you could find yourself asking for a larger budget instead of defending what you get now.
2. It shows effective use and management of public resources.
Almost all events utilize the resources of the local government, such as the police department or waste management. Whether or not you’re paying for these services, it’s normal for uninformed citizens to publicly question the effective use of these resources. If you can show the tax dollars that are being generated by your event, these critiques can more easily be silenced.
3. It’s an effective method for attracting sponsors.
If you want to generate more revenue from sponsors you’re going to have to prove its impact. An economic impact study should provide not only the number of people that attended your festival, but how much money they are spending on food, crafts, and other vendor items. Potential buying power means a lot to sponsors, so having a strong demographic profile of event attendees can give them a good idea whether or not you can deliver their audience.
4. It engages existing partners and businesses and shows them the overall benefit of getting involved.
Here’s my little secret about festival impact studies: Having local leaders participate in the gathering of information makes them true believers in the data that is soon to come. Nothing resonates more than actually hearing attendees provide their answers to where they came from, why they visited and how much they plan on spending.
Conducting a study also tells your community, your partners and all involved that this event is serious business. When you are focused on measurable results it heightens the professionalism in all you are doing for the festival.
5. Gain knowledge of your event customers for event improvements and future marketing.
Everyone loves to pass along ideas to festival coordinators. “If I were doing this event, I’d (insert wild idea here).” Getting feedback of your festival attendees is a must for evolving and improving future events. Having a visitor-attendee profile goes along with it. Perhaps you’ll notice there are fewer families than you expected? Or maybe you’ll discover a higher tendency of visitors from one side of town? Data provides a roadmap for your future resources and increases the efficiency of your marketing.
6. It provides benchmarking for tracking event year-to-year success and growth.
Did you attract more out of town visitors this year than last year? Did people spend more money than before after you reconfigured the vendor booth locations? Were more visitors coming from that city where you spent your marketing? If you want to track success, you’ve got to start measuring.
There are more reasons for conducting a festival or event economic impact study, but these seem to be the prevailing ones we most often hear. We have a saying about market research, “you’ll never know if you do not ask the question.”