Event tourism: what does it mean to you?

BY: Kofi Akpabli
A crucial question for tourism events is who are the target of the event?

As we all hope that things would normalise for us to enjoy the full spectrum of tourism life, let us discuss an important aspect of the business.

Event tourism is both a field of study and a globally significant sector of the economy. It can be defined and studied by reference to its supply side.

At a destination level event tourism is the development and marketing of planned events as tourist attractions, catalysts, animators, image-makers, and place marketers.

This process includes bidding on, facilitating and creating events, and the management of portfolios of events as destination assets.

For individual events, event tourism means taking a marketing orientation to attract tourists, sometimes as an additional segment and sometimes as the core business.
When tourists are the core business, “destination events” are created.

From the demand side, event tourism refers to the propensity of travel to attend events, both on the part of dedicated event tourists who are motivated to travel for specific events and other tourists who attend events while away from home.

The concept is the main deal about the occasion. The main idea around which the event is being organised must be well thought out. What is the celebration about and why? If there is a theme, it can encapsulate the concept or emphasise an aspect of it.

What are the key objectives? If the idea is to show a new side of the destination then the concept must adequately reflect this. Indeed this must be mainstreamed into the strategy of the event.  
If there are any messages that must be communicated during the celebration they must be developed and packaged in a variety of ways.

A crucial question for tourism events is who are the target of the event? Are they just tourists, if so which type of tourists?
Answering this question will ensure a focused activity to yield optimum results. Knowing the specific audience would determine the logistics and communication strategies to adopt.
The target for tourism events could also be young people, artistes, natives or people of a particular lifestyle or orientation, e.g. twins.

The location if well-chosen can help achieve the objective. Practicality comes in here. Is the place accessible, especially for the main target? Is it central? Sometimes a place is chosen for historical and cultural significance.

Next question is how we enhance the place, light, sound, décor, etc., to ensure that it creates the desirable ambience for the event. Venue choice also hinges on number of participants expected.

Many tourism events around this time are open-air. There are times when the location is actually a park or a street or a procession route. Whatever, it is the grounds must be safe and tidy.
Whatever the tourism event is about, both organisers and participants need specific services and facilities for a successful experience.

From the side of the organisers what musical and other entertainers are on the bill? Do they match the spirit of the event? How about food and drink services? Are they well positioned or a bit too far from grounds?
Visitors to a place and tourists love to shop. Does the event have a chain of craftsmen/gift shop around to serve these needs?

For souvenirs and especially, certain crafts items, customers love it more when they are being created on the grounds. That way the process itself becomes a side attraction. What’s more patrons can ask for customisation.

Anyone who attends a tourism event or festival expects to have a good time and travel back home safely. The idea of one getting hurt or attacked is the last thing on people’s mind. The prospect can actually keep people away from the event. Safety and security are thus paramount.

If there are activities/performances or stunts, are they safe? Have performers and organisers observed safety rules. Again, security expertise should be sought. Their operations and presence should assure everyone that all is well.    

Putting together a tourism event requires solid planning and implementation credentials. While targeting tourists, one also have to bear in mind participation by local patrons. While these require a good sense of interest-balancing it also brings up logistics implications.

Organisation requires a mix of good timing, resources and skills. At the end of the day, everyone expects to have an enjoyable time. Patrons want to be happy, businesses want to be satisfied, organisers want to be successful.

The truth is that these expectations all depend on people. People at the destination, whether attending the event or living and working there, it must be friendly and helpful.

It is helpful when they support the event. Then they will do their best as hosts though they are not organisers.  
For instance, a visiting patron may always be asking for help, direction or another form of help. A helpful resident can help the tourist have an enjoyable event.

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