Today, I’m going to talk about event experience, which I think is a quite straightforward concept, but it does involve some explanation.
As I have previously stated (see “What is a Mega-Event?“), an event provides attendees with a social and leisure opportunity outside their normal everyday experiences (Geus, Richards and Toepoel 2016). Thus, meaning that it primarily aims to deliver a novel experience, strategically planned to “enhance its impact on the audience and participants” (Ziakas and Boukas 2014:56).
Andersson and Armbrecht (2014:236) argued, that when an individual decides to participate in an event, he/she enters “into a liminoid zone“. That is, a transitional state that produces a personal experience “outside normal social processes” (Andersson and Armbrecht 2014:236). Therefore, not only do “different types of events provide different experiences” (Lesić, Brščić and Ružić 2017:607), but also the way each person lives that same occasion differs. So, an event experience “is an interaction between an individual and the event environment (both physical and social)“ (Geus et al. 2016:277). Even though the main attraction might be the event itself, its settings and environment are actually what shapes the participant’s experience. Furthermore, according to Geus et al. (2016:274), providing a unique and memorable experience is “the best way for suppliers to gain competitive advantage“. Consequently, meaning that the attendees experience starts before the event takes place.
On the one hand, it has been argued that “experiences cannot be fully designed” (Pettersson and Getz 2009:310). On the other, several authors are in accordance that there are a number of factors and attributes that may affect and/or enhance this experience (Lesić, Brščić and Ružić 2017; Pettersson and Getz 2009; Orefice 2018; Bjo¨rner and Berg 2012). For example, Orefice’s (2018:21) explained that event design is considered “as contributing to the creation of event experiences“.
Event design was defined by Brown and Hutton (2013:44), “as the creation, conceptual development and staging of an event using event design principles and techniques“. Primarily, focused on developing effective communication with the participants towards maximising their event design experience. That is why an event manager is dedicated to “solve problems or meet goals” (Pettersson & Getz 2009:310). By “starting from the event conceptualisation stage and ending with the solution to a specific problem that delivers a set of pre-defined objectives” (Orefice 2018:20). And, in order to set such objectives, an event organisation should establish a good strategy of the main operational aspects and its primary resources, such as décor, sensory stimulations, entertainment, catering, theme, programme or even staff (Bjo¨rner and Berg 2012; Pettersson and Getz 2009).
A great example are the Olympic Games. When conceptualising such mega-event one of the crucial aspects that Olympic organising has to plan are the Live Sites. That is a place strategically designed for people to “watch live coverage of sports competitions on giant screens during Games-time” (Tokyo 2020). Which are then complemented with several sponsor activities to improve the Olympic visitor’s experience.
In my view, providing attendees with a good event experience is one of the most important aspects when planning an event. Simply, because if each individual has a unique and memorable experience, means that when an organisation stages a similar or even the same event the attendees will tell their friends and will obviously want to come back and repeat.
In conclusion, an event “must be promoted, organised, and managed” (Lee, Lee, Lee & Babin 2008:56) with a well-drafted strategy. While always keeping in mind that event managers, when using this strategy, can “strive to create a positive experience for visitors” (Lee et al. 2008:56), but not fully design it. Everything an attendee sees, smells, does and is provided with from the point he/she arrives until the end of the event is all part of their experience.
Andersson, T. D., and Armbrecht, J. (2014) “Factors explaining the use-value of sport event experiences”. International Journal of Event and Festival Management, 5(3), 235–246.
Björner, E., and Berg, P. O. (2012) “Strategic creation of experiences at Shanghai World Expo : a practice of communification”. International Journal of Event and Festival Management, 3(1), 30–45.
Brown, S., and Hutton, A. (2013) “Developments in the real-time evaluation of audience behaviour at planned events”. International Journal of Event and Festival Management, 4(1), 43–55.
Geus, S., Richards, G., and Toepoel, V. (2016) “Conceptualisation and Operationalisation of Event and Festival Experiences : Creation of an Event Experience Scale”. Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, 16(3), 274–296.
Lee, Y. K., Lee, C. K., Lee, S. K., and Babin, B. J. (2008) Festivalscapes and patrons’ emotions, satisfaction, and loyalty. Journal of Business Research, 61(1), 56–64.
Lesić, K., Brščić, K., and Ružić, M. (2017) “The Importance of Understanding Event Experience”. Tourism in Southern and Eastern Europe, 4, 605–618.
Orefice, C. (2018) “Designing for events – a new perspective on event design”. International Journal of Event and Festival Management, 9(1), 20–33.
Pettersson, R., and Getz, D. (2009) “Event Experiences in Time and Space : A Study of Visitors to the 2007 World Alpine Ski Championships in Åre , Sweden”. Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism, 9(2–3), 308–326.
Tokyo 2020 (n.d.) Live Sites. [online] available from: <https://tokyo2020.org/en/events/live-sites/> [17 June 2020].
Ziakas, V., and Boukas, N. (2014) “Contextualizing phenomenology in event management research Deciphering the meaning of event experiences”. International Journal of Event and Festival Management, 5(1), 56–73.