We did it! We have submitted our research proposals for the coming year. Now we have to wait and hope for the research committees to approve them. This is necessary if we want to continue our research into the ROI of public events next year and continue to support the event sector in their further development and professionalization.
Next year, we want to continue our research into visitor counts at free and open accessible public events, but we also want to start new research into visitor profiles: Who are the visitors of the different types of public events? Where do they come from, what drives them and what are they interested in?
We do not only want to detect these profiles and link them to the different types of public events, but we also want to develop a method and tools for the event sector which they can apply themselves on their own events. This will enable the different actors within the sector to obtain a clearer view on their target audience, which will lead to a more effective use of resources. Ambitious, of course! Relevant, absolutely!
As of this year, our students can enroll for the expert class ROI for public events. We teach them how to measure the local impact of public events by using the tools we have developed. Our future event & project managers will conduct the analyses themselves for real life public events. For this, they are working together with local authorities. This way, not only the municipalities will receive a first mover advantage by gaining insights that will optimize their local event policy but also our students, as early adopters of the ROI methodology.
With 16 they were, our brave pollsters who defied the cold winter weather in order to count and survey the hundreds of thousands of visitors of the Light festival this year. During the five evenings of this festival, 2.000 visitors were surveyed on the streets of Ghent. This way, we learn where the visitors are from, how much money they spend and whether they carry a smartphone of which the wifi, bluetooth and mobile data are switched on.
That the Light festival could count on a lot of interest from the local people is something we already predicted based on our analysis of the previous edition in 2015, but this year we also learned the amount of international interest there was for this festival. Many international visitors, press and bloggers were present as well as a delegation of Eurocities and the International Light festival Organisation. On one of their meetings, our research team was invited to present our ROI methodology. The venue where this took place was as impressive as the presence of the 42 countries who organize Light festivals themselves. What an experience!
Just like with the previous edition, we will also measure the local social impact of this edition of the Light Festival in Ghent, which starts today. Thanks to our new impact tools we can now also measure the local economic impact of this event for the city.
For the economic impact analysis, it is recommended to obtain an as accurate count as possible of the number of visitors. But that is not always as easy. Especially events like the Light Festival are a challenge, because they are free and open accessible events. In addition, the Ghent Light Festival lasts for five days and is spread out over a course of almost 7 km, which makes this count an even greater challenge.
So how do you count the number of visitors at such an event? Which method is the most accurate and why?
In order to obtain an exploratory insight in this matter, we will test five different methods. One of these methods require a survey of the visitors on the streets during the event. For this, we are glad that we can rely on the enthusiasm of our pollsters.
How to calculate and even predict the local social and economic impact of public events? We have been able to answer this research question(s) thanks to our research into the ROI of public events. We even developed tools to help the event sector measure these impacts (for free).
We developed these online tools together with the students of the study program Multimedia Technology of our college university. In order to offer an optimal user experience, we screen our ROI Toolkit on a regular basis.
Yesterday, four diligent students presented their recommendations for a further automatisation of one of our tools. Thanks to their input, we will be able to offer our users soon an even more automated toolkit environment with software that will enable to send out questionnaires with just one touch on a button.
For us, the winter is anything but a dark period. January and February are the months of planning, of writing research proposals, of light and hope.
As from this year, we are not only writing our own research proposals regarding public events, but our research group is also supporting and helping to write the other research proposals within the Business Studies and Business Administration department of our University College. All this makes it even a greater and more exciting time of the year!
It has already been a great start of this new year! Many new research projects are being put on the agenda. No time to waste to enlarge our research team. And so it happened …
Please meet Jolien Vangeel.
We are so proud to present you our new colleague. Jolien does not only have two master degrees but also a PhD in Social Sciences and many years of research experience at KU Leuven. Her expertise as well as her sparkling personality will ensure the extra boost we need for our research team to pop extra this year.
The results of our research are not only being shared with our working field (the event sector), but also with our students and our lecturers.
Our aim is to generate a snowball effect in the transfer of the knowledge we have developed, by informing and inspiring but also by creating as many ROI ambassadors as possible. The enthusiasm of our fellow lecturers of the study programme Event & Project Management is heartening. So proud to be a member of this team!
Our article on Winter Festivals in Flanders was published in Knack and already shared 283 times.
CLICK HERE to read the article.
As from last weekend, Flanders is the place to be for a whole lot of winter fun: Winter Festival in Ghent, Winter in Antwerp, Winter Land in Hasselt … From Christmas markets to ice skating, fireworks and endless shopping fun. The sky is the limit. The aim of it all seems to be attracting as many visitors as possible. But is this really the end goal? Don’t our cities and municipalities have to focus mainly on their own inhabitants and their needs and wellbeing?
As researchers from Karel de Grote University, we do believe so. For more than three years already, we are conducting research into the local impact of public events. We look for answers to questions such as: When is a public event successful for the municipality where it is being organized? And also: How can you measure this success?
We developed a methodology that departs from the simple principle that brings everything back into perspective: Inhabitants are the core of the existence of municipalities. Also our constitution claims clearly that municipalities first of all have to meet the collective needs of their inhabitants, and therefore also when supporting or organizing events. Only when visitors provide a direct or indirect return for the inhabitants on the investment these inhabitants have made, a success might be in the pipeline.
And what about these Winter Festivals in our Flemish municipalities? They cost the inhabitants a lot of money. But what do they offer them? Are the disadvantages of these public events being compensated by the advantages? In which way? And how is this being measured?
We sincerely hope that our mayors can and will support their statements in the media about the success of these events with a well-founded analysis about the advantages of it all for their inhabitants and not only based upon the number of visitors. Even more, we hope that they will use the tools we have developed for these purposes and which are free at their disposal on the ROI Toolkit of our research website. By systematically using these tools, it will be much easier and faster to measure the social and economic local impact of these and other public events. Only then, they will be able to communicate about the impact and success of these events in an objective, transparent and credible way.