Saturday, January 21, 2012

What makes special events successful

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“Planning and organisation are the key elements that determine the success of any special event” (Van der Wagen, 001, p.111). Whilst success may be hard to measure Goldblatt and Supovitz (1) believe that the best critical success indicators are the mission and vision statements as these are the “first stages in setting up expectancy and accountability” (p.). All successful events “have five critical stages in common to ensure their consistent effectiveness” (Getz, 17, p.1). These stages include research, design, planning, coordination and evaluation and form the basic concepts of planning and organisation Throughout this essay, the above stages will be discussed in detail and an analysis of past events will be used as a framework to establish the reasons why some events have occurred for hundreds of years and why others have blossomed and then sunk into obscurity.

The initial stage in planning a successful event refers to developing the event mandate, purpose and the mission statement. It is not simply enough to state that ones aim is to make a profit. Instead a good statement of purpose will provide the organisers with a clear direction and a firm foundation on which visions and strategies can be built. Also establishing a mission will ensure that “planning and implementation do no go off the rails and that the initial intent is realised” (Van der Wagen, 1, p. 11). By establishing a mission statement one is able to measure the success or failure of event by determining weather the event satisfied the mission. For example the “primary purpose of the Texas Folk life Festival is to provide an educational setting where traditional folk life activities of Texans from all over the state can be demonstrated to impart knowledge to the public and encourage the preservation of these activities” (Getz, 17, p.4). Based on this mission statement the success of this event can be measured by the fact that in 00 10,000 Texans attended the Folk life fair. On show were 40 ethnic groups from 6 different countries around the globe who demonstrated elements of their crafts, foods, music, storytelling, and dances. Also the success of the event is demonstrated by the fact that 00 will see the nd Texas Folkfair Festival, hence highlighting the longevity of the event and thus its success.

The next stage of the planning cycle involves “taking stock of the organisation and its environment” (Allen, O’Tool, McDonnell and Harris, 1, p. 10). This step has several major components including environmental scanning, organisational audit and resource appraisals. The best method of effectively carrying out these processes is through research, as “excellent research reduces risk” (Goldblatt, 17, p.1) and thus contributes to a successful event.

The more research that is conducted prior to an event the greater the likelihood of success and satisfaction of the planned outcomes. According to Goldblatt (17) the best forms of research include market research which can be obtained either qualitatively or quantitatively, a SWOT analysis and the Five W’s test. These forms of research will ensure consistently effective events. Research is a crucial element in determining and understanding the event environment, identifying the major stakeholders and assisting the event manager in what Allen, O’toole, McDonnell and Harris terms “conceptualising the event”. In order to ensure successful events one must conceptualise the event through the use of research.

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A clear example of the importance of research can be seen with the 184 Louisiana World Fair in New Orleans. In 184 the city of New Orleans celebrated the opening of the fair with an excitement reminiscent of Mardi Gras and with great expectations of this large scale event. Six months later, the “city closed the fair in a mood similar to that of a jazz funeral” (Dimanche, 16, p. 4). In analysing the reasons for the failure of this fair it became evident that there was a lack of research in regard to assessing the environment. For example, the event organiser failed to recognise the competitive impact of the Los Angeles Summer Olympic games which took place during the same time. Also the fact that no forecasting or research into the needs of the stakeholders was conducted, resulted in its failure (Dimanche, 16).

Alternatively the events planned for Federation Day which took place on 1 January 001 were successful in that they sought community interest, they had a lasting significance and they provided the opportunity for New South Wales residents to become involved in the day. The success of this event could be attributed to the fact that in 16 research by the Australia Day Council of New South Wales was undertaken. The research took the form of library research and fifty qualitative interviews with community leaders to gauge the stakeholder’s interest (Allan, et al, 1).

Once the situation analysis has been conducted, a numerous amount of issues may arise, especially where the public and stakeholders have input. Taking these issues into account event managers will attempt to formulate strategies. One of these critical strategies to consider is the development of the marketing plan. Understanding the needs of the market, keeping up with changing consumer preferences and understanding what customers want is pertinent to the success of an event.

Marketing for events as defined by Getz (17) “is the process of employing the marketing mix to attain organisational goals through creating value for clients and customers” (p.50). Creating value for customers is achieved through consideration of product, place, price and promotion. In order to avoid failure event organisers should consider each aspect of the marketing mix and ensure that each aspect meets the needs, expectations and motivations of the consumer.

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