A Look Back
Special Events and Festivals have a long and storied history. The Pythian Games (a precursor event to the Olympics) held what is considered to be the first music festival in the late sixth century BC (BBC History Magazine 2015). The first ancient Olympic game happened back in 776 BC, while the first international Olympic games occurred in the summer of 1896 which by all accounts was a major success. Today the Olympics commands an impressive 3.5 billion viewership that watched at least some part of the 16 day event. Whereas the World Cup draws an impressive 3.2 billion viewers worldwide. These events as well as many smaller events are massive opportunities for sponsors and host cities to capitalize on.
The first World Fair was billed as “The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations”, in London in 1851. Like most events the World Fair has a theme of exposing people to the cultures and ideas from around the globe hoping to pave the road to the future (Richman-Abdou, 2018 my modern met). Similar to the Olympics this mega event is held in a different location each time.
Notable Products First Introduced at a World Fair
Color Televisions (New York, 1964)
Touchscreens (Knoxville, 1982)
Telephone (Philadelphia 1876)
Ice Cream Cone (St. Louis, 1904)
Ferris Wheel (Chicago 1893)
Dishwasher (Chicago 1893)
X-rays (St. Louis, 1904)
Broadcast Television (New York, 1939)
Video Calling Machine (New York, 1964)
The power of festivals and large events to change the world and be the draw for tourism, helps explain why events are a critical component to a “destination's competitiveness” (Getz, 2007). According to Getz & Page there are four main categories of events within the tourism spectrum:
- Sporting Events
- Business Events or Expositions
Festivals come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on who you ask, when someone hears the word festival, they may think of Coachella, Bonnaroo, or they might think of their local harvest festival. Festivals can be characterized by their theme, when and how often they take place, the activities involved, and where they take place.
Etc. (Kim, Uysal & Chen)
Every other year (Olympics for example)
Start of Holiday
(Picard & Robinson)
Race (5k etc)
As you can see in the above table, even with this annotated list, festivals have endless possibilities for planners to find a reason to celebrate. However, in planning your event having a clearly defined purpose for your event can help ensure a successful festival. Like much of the tourism industry, putting on a festival is very labor intensive, so understanding the labor needed to fulfill the event planners vision will be important.
Sporting events such as College and Professional Football, Baseball, Basketball, and Soccer have been historically more popular than other forms of available entertainment. This could be due in part to their rabid fan bases and long-standing rivalries that fuel the competitive spirit of the sports fans. As anyone who has attended a University of Michigan game in the “Big House” with it’s capacity of 107,000, will understand that sporting events do not “just happen”. It takes considerable organization and coordination of many moving parts to ensure a smooth product that might seem effortless to the casual fan.
Some sporting events are so big and have such a widespread impact that their planning is started years in advance. For example, The National Football League chooses the locations of the Super Bowl at least 4 years in advance, to give the host city a chance to prepare for the influx of an estimated 1 million visitors. Similarly, the Olympic Games, which is considered by many to be the pinnacle of sporting events, attracts an estimated 5-6 million visitors to the host city. As you may know the Olympics’ happens every other year alternating between summer and winter Olympics.
The Super Bowl (NFL, American Football)
FIFA World Cup (Soccer)
The Masters Tournament (Golf)
The World Series (MLB, Baseball)
Dayton 500 (NASCAR, Racing)
Tour de France (Bicycle Race)
Cricket World Cup
24 hours of Le Mans (Endurance Car Race)
Expositions or trade shows are usually held as part of a convention. Expositions such as the National Restaurant Associations (NRA) annual event held in Chicago, as well as the annual International Hotel Motel & Restaurant Show (IHRMS) in New York City, are two of the largest hospitality and tourism-related expositions held. The IHRMS is held as a part of the American Hotel and Lodging Associations (AHLA) conference.
Expositions give vendors a unique chance to show off their products and services to attendees. Attendees and exhibitors also use attending for networking, self-improvement (usually through attending information sessions or certification training), entertainment, and last but not least as a chance to get away from work. Attendees also noted that they felt more inclined to purchase a product or service if it was featured at an event they attended (EventTrack 2016).
Top 5 Reasons Attendees go to Corporate Events (Event Manager Blog)
- Networking (82%)
- Learn something new (71%)
- Entertainment (38%)
- Self-Improvement (37%)
- Time Away from the office (16%)
Entertainment plays a role in all of the other areas of event management, it is not unusual for an exposition, sporting event, or festival to have similar components. Entertainment events can utilize a wide variety of venue locations and types, these events are typically put on by the private sector. Entertainment events expand the career possibilities as the entertainment segment includes concerts, shows, award ceremonies, etc. Concert promoters are an alternative career path in relation to special events. Event managers may work with entertainment events such as half time shows during sporting events such as the Super Bowl, which can be viewed by over 100 million viewers, or the opening and closing ceremonies of sporting events.
Depending on the scale and scope of the event, event planners may start planning 6 to 12 months in advance (Event Professionals of Tomorrow Report, 2016). The building of the agenda and creating content is considered by 46% of the planners surveyed in the report to be the most time-consuming piece of the event planning process. The emergence of social media as a marketing tool is seen as the more effective, followed closely by email and the events website according to EventMB.
The use of technology in event planning and execution has grown increasingly important. 91% of event planners noted that there was a positive Return on Investment (ROI) with an event app, event apps allow for intelligent feedback, greater inter-activeness with attendees as well as sponsorship opportunities.
Event planners in general have a positive outlook of their job security (EventMB). This could be in part due to the value that companies see in response to attendees interacting with their products or services at events, or the value that people place on that face to face interaction (Forbes). For events such as Music Festivals and Sporting events, there is the sense of community and “you had to be there” experience that has fueled the industry for years.
Below is a sample organizational flow chart for a major sports complex. As you will notice there are many levels and key positions. Starting with the Event Director who is a part of the process from the beginning and responsible for the planning, hiring of the management team and giving guidance to ensure a successful event. The Program Coordinator will handle the scheduling of every activity and must know everyone and everything happening during the program. The Venue Coordinator is responsible to ensure that the venue is ready for that day’s events. The Equipment Coordinator is in charge of ensuring that each event has the proper equipment and that it is set up and properly functioning. The Marketing Coordinator is in charge of the marketing and promotion of events They will guide the message that goes out to the media and control the direction of the advertising and publicity. In a sports complex the Officials’ Coordinator will be responsible that each sporting event has the necessary officials. The Hospitality Coordinator makes sure that attendees and guests are comfortable, ensuring that VIP’s are taken care of. In some instances they are responsible for providing entertainment. Finally, the Merchandising Coordinator is responsible for the purchasing, display and sale of clothing and other items.
Source: Leo Isaac
Job duties: arrange the details of a variety of events. Wedding planners are the most well known, but event planners also coordinate celebrations such as anniversaries, reunions, and other large social events, as well as corporate events, including product launches, galas, and award ceremonies. Nonprofit event planners plan large events with the goal of raising donations for a charity or advocacy organization. Events may include banquets, charity races, and food drives.
Most meeting, convention, and event planners need a bachelor’s degree. Although some colleges offer degree programs in meeting and event management, other common fields of study include communications, business, and business management.
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 10% (Faster than the 7% average for all occupations)
The Events Industry Council offers the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential, a voluntary certification for meeting and convention planners. Although the CMP is not required, it is widely recognized in the industry and may help in career advancement. To qualify, candidates must have a minimum of 36 months of meeting management experience, recent employment in a meeting management job, and proof of continuing education credits. Those who qualify must then pass an exam that covers topics such as strategic planning, financial and risk management, facility operations and services, and logistics.