Emerging knowledge and innovation in event management

International Journal of Event and Festival Management

ISSN: 1758-2954

Article publication date: 11 October 2013

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Lockstone-Binney, L. and Junek, M.R.a.O. (2013), "Emerging knowledge and innovation in event management", International Journal of Event and Festival Management, Vol. 4 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEFM-06-2013-0010

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Emerging knowledge and innovation in event management

Article Type: Guest editorial From: International Journal of Event and Festival Management, Volume 4, Issue 3.

This special issue of the International Journal of Event and Festival Management sets out to highlight emerging knowledge areas and innovations in the field of event studies taking place both in academe and in industry. Acknowledging significant growth in the field over the past decade, the articles in this edition, representing both empirical studies and expert opinion, present views from multiple stakeholders and offer discussion points within a variety of themes related to novel areas of event management knowledge and innovation practice. The themes are diverse and include customer engagement using social media, corporate engagement in special events through the medium of corporate hospitality (CH) programmes, community engagement in festival decision making and the use of innovative environmental practices to reduce the ecological footprint of music festivals.

The events industry has grown exponentially in size and profile over the last decade. As it continues to grow, potentially to become an industry in its own right, distinct from the related fields of tourism, hospitality and sports, new areas of knowledge and demonstrated capacity for innovation will become increasingly important to facilitate the increasing number of strategic functions that events play (Jago and Deery, 2010). This is all the more the case in an environment of rapid social and technological change, and in light of the new dynamics of consumer led choice (Talwar et al., 2010) where management must acknowledge an increasing range of internal needs and external responsibilities. Core areas of event management knowledge such as project management, risk management, logistics and financial management will need to be rebalanced with new knowledge areas to ensure that the events industry is ready to adapt to global competition, the rapidly changing business environment and possible global crises.

The goal of this edition, then, is to highlight some of the themes that have emerged in the context of growth and change in the events industry, against the backdrop of a fast-paced, changing technological environment and an increasingly discerning consumer market. As a starting point the edition presents an opinion piece by Baum, Lockstone-Binney and Robertson where they reflect on the current state of event studies research, at times with a critical eye. Beyond detailing the scope of research undertaken, as many previous reviews have done, the authors compare the trajectory of event studies relative to the allied fields of hospitality, tourism and leisure and argue, in part, that despite good and robust research progressing events studies to a point, no seminal theories or conceptual frameworks have yet emerged grounded in the event experience. Furthermore, they argue that a lack of defined career paths and recognised roles within the events industry is indicative of a slow path to professionalisation. The authors call for researchers and educators to rise above the numerous challenges event studies faces as “new kid on the block” in the modern academic era.

The empirical studies showcased in the issue, span a number of geographic areas, including Europe, Australia, the UK and the USA. They contribute to the extant literature in suggesting new directions and ideas that events studies and its proponents can pursue in light of the rapidly changing global environment. It is through exploring new ideas and new ways of doing things that we, as events educators and researchers, can ensure that our students are well prepared for their careers in the events industry and that both academe and practitioners collaborate to professionalise the field and foster its credibility from within.

Jepson, Clarke and Ragsdell analyse the factors that inhibit or facilitate engagement in community festivals, focusing on the Utcazene Music Festival in Hungary. The application of the motivation-opportunity-ability (MOA) model aims to add new knowledge to current understanding of engagement in community festivals. By capturing data with regards to tourists, the local community and festival organisers, the application of the MOA model and its analysis explores the relationships between these stakeholders, examines some of the complexities of community festivals and highlights the role of, as well as the forms community engagement can take in relation to local festivals. Participation, knowledge and a sense of empowerment on the part of the local community are identified as the main facilitating factors supporting community engagement.

Hudson and Arnett, in examining how social media is being used to engage with music festival attendees, address a different facet of event engagement. As the marketing communications environment has changed enormously over the last decade due to the advent and popularity of social media, the authors provide a timely contribution to understanding this aspect of consumer behaviour at events and festivals. Social media has become an essential part of the integrated marketing communication of events, in particular of music events in reaching their predominantly young audiences. Three case studies of music festivals in the USA and Europe describe the pivotal role of social media in the consumer decision-making journey. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online brand communities and relatively new social media platforms such as Foursquare are all considered in the various stages of the consumer decision process and incorporated into a new model, which is subsequently tested by the authors using a case study methodology. The case study analysis provides support for the proposed model. In particular, the authors found that in the consumer decision stages of “evaluating” and “advocating”, social media has increasing impact. A number of new and innovative social media developments, such as radio frequency identification (RFID) and geolocation software are discussed in terms of increased engagement with event visitors. The case studies have practical implications for festival organisers and marketers as well as making a valuable contribution to knowledge on music festival attendees and their consumer buying processes. The understandings provided on the use and leveraging of social media to drive attendance, brand recognition and loyalty, add to current knowledge of event and festival marketing in both a theoretical and practical way.

Sustainability, environmental awareness, triple bottom-line and green practices are increasingly recognised as practices and approaches vital to the success of events and festivals. Serving vegetarian food as a strategy to minimise environmental impacts at a music festival is the novel focus of a study by Andersson, Jutbring and Lundberg. The study uses the EPA Event Calculator (developed in Australia) to calculate the ecological footprint of a Scandinavian music festival. Despite an increase in visitor days, the results of the study show a significant decrease in the environmental impacts generated by the festival due to decreased demand for catering resources. Moreover, the “vegetarian food only” message was found to add value to the festival brand amongst several target groups and was suggested as an innovative strategy to highlight concern for the environment by festival organisers, above and beyond the use of more accepted sustainable management practices.

Corporations have increasingly entered the events space, integrating CH practices as part of their business-to-business (B2B) marketing efforts. Drake's Australian study of CH delves more deeply into identifying its role as a strategic and tactical marketing tool and examines which types of special events are viewed by CH practitioners as most fit for purpose in regards to this practice. A number of benefits are identified based on the corporations’ objectives for CH, including access to new customers, education through engagement – getting the message across, profile and brand building and market intelligence gathering. Drake suggests that more research needs to be undertaken in regards to CH, which to date has received limited attention from marketing and event researchers, in particular to demonstrate how organisations can better structure CH programmes and measure their success.

The journal finishes with an opinion piece by Yeoman, who identifies and discusses ten top consumer trends that may shape the form, consumption and purpose of festivals and events of the future. The trend analysis includes the increasing need for exceptional experience in our day-to-day life; the significance attributed to heritage; the pursuit of knowledge and authentic-seeking; the role of technology as both record and measure of leisure performance. Yeoman, a well-respected futurist and scenario planner, with tourism and travel as his specialism, also looks to the possible futures of tourism, events and the consumer in a time where wealth is distributed in new ways, when people are living longer and festival and event attendance become ever more significant demonstrations of social capital.

Event management practitioners must embrace new knowledge domains and innovation in order to adapt to a rapidly changing business environment and fickle consumer demand. Event organisations cannot afford to adopt a “status quo” mentality, thinking that if they have managed the core areas of their events successfully in the past that consumers will continue to attend. Event studies educators and researchers, must live up to their part of the bargain in pushing the knowledge boundaries of the field, collaborating with practitioners where possible and disseminating valuable insights to industry in easily consumed forms. They must also ensure that event management graduates, as likely contributors to, and possible future leaders of the field, have the optimal skill set to enable them to work, grow and adapt in industry (Junek et al., 2009; Robertson et al., 2012), and in the process, changing the landscape of event management as we currently know it.

Leonie Lockstone-Binney, Martin Robertson and Olga Junek

Guest Editors

References

Jago, L. and Deery, M. (2010), Delivering Innovation, Knowledge and Performance: The Role of Business Events, Business Events Council of Australia, Melbourne

Junek, O., Lockstone, L. and Mair, J. (2009), “Two perspectives on event management employment: student and employer insights into the skills required to get the job done!”, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 120-129

Robertson, M., Junek, O. and Lockstone-Binney, L. (2012), “Is this for real? Authentic learning for the challenging events environment”, Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 225-241

Talwar, R., Hancock, T., Yeomans, G. and Padgett, P. (2010), “Convention 2020: the future of exhibitions, meetings and events”, fastfuture.com, available at: www.fastfuture.com (accessed 4 May 2011)