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Focusing on the business side of major events

The economics of event planning

The economics of event planning
Image via eventindustrynews.co.uk

By Dr. Peter Tarlow, President of Tourism & More, Inc., special to eTN | Mar 01, 2012

Each year, nations around the world compete for major events. These events can range from sporting events to political events, from major conventions to religious festivals. In all cases, and despite their different themes, these events are judged not only by the quality of the event but also by the events’ economic success or failure. No matter what we call the event or what its purpose may be, on some level, events are a business and the locale that chooses to ignore the business side of the event, will in the end suffer not only an economic failure but will also have to deal with negative publicity and potential employee turnover. To help you focus on the business side of major events, Tourism & More offers the following suggestions:

The strength and success of an event is dependent on the event management's ability to integrate its many subparts. Major events need to be planned for long in advance. Despite the fact that they seem simple, locales need to begin to worry about everything from event customer service to event security. Each one of an event's component factors need to be integrated into such a way that all aspects of the event interact in a seamless and precise manner.

Employ great tourism security and risk management strategies. Make sure to list everything that may go wrong and then develop a plan based on probability models. Good event security means protecting not only the attendees and the site from physical harm, but also caring about the event's economic viability and its reputation. International events are not only a target for terrorism but can also become a place where illnesses and pandemics can spread rapidly.

Plan for the long term rather than the short term. If the event will require special construction, such as an Olympic village or increased transportation facilities, then plan for life after the event is long finished. Mega events can provide locales with the opportunity to bring about major infrastructure development. When developing these infrastructure improvements, make sure that they are part of a coordinated effort and include the local population, the local security forces, and those groups that are concerned with environmental impact and beautification issues. What is essential to remember is that one can use poorly so that in the post-event stage there is blight or the local authorities can use the event as a stimulus for economic renewal.

There are multiple markets for major events. Many tourism entities assume that major events have only one market. Nothing could be further from the truth. When marketing a major event or any event, consider that you have the following markets: (1) The media is not only a way to market but also a market. Getting the media to have a positive attitude toward your event requires a marketing strategy. (2) The local population is a second market. These are people who, while not directly responsible for the event, are key to the attendees' long-term attitude toward the event's host locale. (3) Those attending the event are an additional market. (4) Those viewing the event from the perspective of the Internet or television form an entirely different market.

Use the social media to get your message out at little or no cost. From email to social media, there are now multiple ways to save money while getting a message out. Create special event pages on such social media sites as Facebook. Use websites as "locales" in which you can sell tickets, collect payments, and provide refunds.

Make sure that your division of labor reflects reality. Major events require not only long-term professional staffs, but also temporary helpers and volunteers. Each one of these subgroups has its own special needs and goals. Volunteers are an especially important group as they can become insulted and quit at almost any moment. When working with volunteers, remember that their "pay" is the satisfaction that you provide to them. Remember that your paid and unpaid staffs form your most precious resource. If the event organization uses this resource wisely, it can cut down on a great many costs and turn what might be a loss into a profit.

Find ways to cut costs by researching travel patterns. Study the event participants' travel patterns, keep vehicles filled, work with local venues to find ways to cut costs, create ways for people to want to share in the event's costs through sponsorships, meet the celebrities, or donations. Remember the more money that is collected, the less the public will need to pay and the happier event attendees may be.

Develop flexible timelines. No matter how well you plan, things change over time. Service providers change; people start new businesses, die, or retire; and weather conditions may produce unforeseen delays. The trick is to practice the art of redundancy; have numerous back-up plans and assume that most things will take about 20 percent longer to accomplish than first contemplated. Furthermore, many industries providing goods and services to an event may see "opportunistic costs." This means that they assume that they can jack up prices, as the event planner will have no alternative but to pay. To avoid these problems, attempt to secure multiple sources, purchase early, and demand contracts that lock into service providers to a set price.

http://www.tourismandmore.com/

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