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Events Management Report on Fan Expo – Canada Essay

This report has been commissioned by James Armstrong of Hobby Star Marketing to critically analyse and evaluate the Fan Expo Canada event. A general overview of the event will be provided as well as the event category it falls under and the implications of this. The event will then be analysed in terms of its social impact, the stakeholders involved and economic implications. This report is limited to the event information available on the internet and in the prescribed text for theory based arguments.

This report aims to advise Hobby Star Marketing on the current and future states of their event and as related to tourism theory, what impact this may have on social and economic factors, as well as impact on event stakeholders as a whole. In conclusion recommendations will be put forward as to the best approach for event organisers to take in the future to ensure all stakeholders are kept satisfied as well as the wider community.

2.0 Description of EventFan Expo Canada is held annually at the end of each summer in Toronto Canada and features three days of non-stop festivities in the areas of video games, anime, science fiction, horror and comic books. The expo has been running for 12 years with its name recently being changed from the Canadian National Expo. Fan Expo is held primarily in the Toronto Metro Convention Centre and last year boasted over 37 000 admissions.

Fan Expo is a unique event targeted to a specific range of markets. Having been dubbed in the past the ‘Nerd Prom’, the Fan Expo draws visitors from all around the globe to Toronto Canada, enhancing awareness of the region and its status in gaming, anime, science fiction, horror and comic book realms. Due to these factors it is suitable to classify this expo as a Hallmark event. This type of event is typically defined as a major one time or recurring event of limited duration developed primarily to enhance awareness or appeal and profitability of a tourism destination in the short or long term. In order to obtain success such events rely primarily on their uniqueness, status or timely significance to create both interest and to attract attention (Ritchie, 1984, p.2; Getz 1997 pp.5-6 in Allen et al. 2005). Fan Expo is highly significant to its target markets and provides the host venue, community and destination as a whole with a competitive advantage over other conventions of a simular nature in North America (third largest event of its kind in this region) (Hobbystar 2006).

3.0 Social Impact

3.1 Social BenefitsAll events have a direct social and cultural impact on their participants and sometimes on the broader host communities (Hall, 1989; Getz, 1997 in Allen et al. 2005). In terms of the Fan Expo, the social impacts are expansive and many benefits come to fruition as a result of the event taking place. One in particular is the validation of community groups associated with the event. A positive impact can be seen here through the acknowledgment of local comic book artists, with the talents of the normally ostracised minority being recognised and applauded at an international level. As the community is one of the major event stakeholders, not only are these groups validated but further encouragement of community participation also results due to the overwhelming achievements of specific community members.

Social constancy and community pride are again other factors that result in benefits to the community of Toronto. Fan Expo brings tourists from all over the world to one epicentre of likeminded people. Through this experience the local community may volunteer and band together to present their city in the greatest state possible to expo visitors. The impact this effect has on the tourists is also significant as it encourages migration attractiveness as well as an increased positive image tourists have about the city of Toronto. This has a two fold effect as the community also notes the economic gain of for example encouraging a major video game expert to relocate to Toronto (stronger and more competitive local economy). In retrospect the community is more socially aware of itself and its visitors and is more likely to retain and develop higher visitor rates due to its strengthened welcoming culture.

The convergence of these likeminded industry experts also facilitates an arena for the development of new ideas and partnerships both within the industry and between expo visitors. Tourists that bring already existing ideas to the expo then can have that idea realised through the resources of local and visiting industry experts (i.e. a gaming designer that wants to sell his or her idea to a major video game corporation). The potential for economic growth due to this convergence is quite extraordinary.

3.2 Social Costs

Of the research conducted about what social cost Fan Expo has had to the local community, one common theme that was realised was the apparent facilitation of strongarm tactics. In an overview of what was discovered, local comic book retailers were being forced by expo organisers either feature solely in their expo (not other competing expos) or not feature at all. The local community backlash from this decision was quite significant with many key industry leaders in the community moving to boycott the Fan Expo event.

The ramifications of this monopolistic type approach on the community can cause not only resentment towards event participants and tourists, but also commodification of the event because of the lack of attendance of original industry leaders and pioneers (eg. instead of the creator of the comic book ‘The Phantom’ attending in person, Fan Expo constructs a video montage of the comic book creator and his work instead). This can cause dissonance between fans and organisers as what was once expected and a major highlight of the event is now replaced with a display that for most fans, the information presented is not uncommonly found on say the internet.

On a whole, community resentment for the event taking place in their city can occur but also tourist resentment for the visiting the destination in the future is also a possibility. Social consequence such as criminal activity may occur as a result, specifically if some visitors have travelled a significant distance to attend the event.

4.0 Stakeholders

In regards to the stakeholders for Fan Expo Canada, a number of categories can be used to separate the role and objectives of each. In terms of the host organisation, the Toronto City Council is a major figurehead as the support from local government for funding and other regulatory and staffing concerns is vital to the success of this event. Hobby Star Marketing as a corporation is also another obvious stakeholder as they are the primary event organisers and have substantial amounts of resources injected into fate of this event. The Toronto Metro Convention Centre is also another key stakeholder as the event is being held at their premise. Their objectives for the event will be to ensure their function areas function as they should throughout the expo as well as working closely with Hobby Star to ensure all logistical requirements are executed without delay or error.

Toronto as a community is also a primary stakeholder as its involvement and expectations for the event are additionally significant. For Hobby Star, their understanding of the local community is a key factor for the event to be a success. Specifically in this case, the understanding of local community comic book or gaming groups and societies will enable event organisers to develop the event to cater for the needs of these groups. Furthermore representatives from these groups could provide recommendations and assistance for future event ideas. In doing so the community expectations can be more accurately met and overall dissonance of the event significantly reduced (Allen et al. 2005).

In terms of the media, local television, radio and print associations are also termed stakeholders as they have been invested in and have also dedicated resources to either cover the event progress or advertise the event in the weeks leading up. Due to the events widespread appeal, web media would also be considered an important stakeholder as accurate information needs to be communicated to tourists planning on attending. Web media is also important to monitor because as noted earlier, backlash or community opinions are not contained within the community when the web is involved, and negative impacts can occur quickly through use of the internet.

Other stakeholders include event staff, volunteers and centre management and staff. Their role is to ensure the event plan is executed effectively and their presence as a required resource must also be nurtured through not only being catered for and looked after during the event, but also recognition for their contributions once the event has ended. One way this is performed is by volunteers being given free access to any event over the three days before and after their allotted shift time (Happy Star 2006). For any event to be truly effective, the vision and philosophy of the event must be shared by all of the team (Allen et al. 2005).

The participants of the event which include guest speakers, retailers, performers, industry professionals and the general public are also significant stakeholders. To make the event memorable and meaningful, the event manager must ensure all of these figureheads are satisfied in terms of what they want to get out of the event, which includes their physical needs of comfort, safety and security. At Fan Expo in 2006, it is the 40th anniversary of the birth of Star Trek and the key guest speakers are two famous stars from the original television series. Their involvement and satisfaction of how the event is run and managed will be reflected on how well they address the audience and subsequently the level of enjoyment the spectators receive.

5.0 Economic Analysis

The economic standpoint in regards to events is the make or break factor – events must generate revenue to be successful. Therefore one of the most important impacts is the tourism revenue generated by an event (Allen et al. 2005). External visitors not only spend money on the event itself such as tickets and merchandise but also on items such as travel, accommodation and other goods and services available in the host city. This economic influx is sometimes depended on in many smaller communities however in the case of Toronto, effective tourism can result in visitors that are in town for the event to extend their stay and consequently increase spending (Allen et al. 2005).

As described in Section 3.1, many business opportunities are possible through the interaction of local and visiting industry members. Furthermore their interaction with the local community and its economy may also give way for tourists to increase stay or indeed make a bid to stay permanently. For the expo, this could mean opportunities for more qualified industry leaders to be a part of the planning process for the following year’s expo. The overall benefits for Fan Expo could include for example the cast voices for the latest Star Trek game to be sourced and recorded in Toronto due to Microsoft Games setting up headquarters after negotiations. In hindsight whilst the majority of the Fan Expo is based around a market and display type setup, there are also many exclusive forums and networking conferences that occur over the weekend to further facilitate the creation of business opportunities (Hobby Star 2006).

Higher rates of employment can also result from this event – employment requirements for Fan Expo itself but also local industry members showcasing their talents then being offered work at a major firm. This can also have a negative effect as the local talent is snapped up and shipped out to other cities or countries, possibly damaging the part of the local economy they were once involved in. On the other hand if nurtured the community member could leave to gain more knowledge then return to the city, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and experience that could significantly increase the economy of the city and region.

On the agenda of negative economic impacts, opportunity cost can clearly be linked to the issues described in Section 3.2 in regards to strongarm tactics allegedly being used by Hobby Star Marketing. With retailers being forced to choose between festivals, the chance for economic gain is lost. Spectators that cannot attend the Fan Expo are left with no alternatives to view and purchase expo items and retailers in general loose out because of reduced exposure. This consequently forces retailers to ascertain which festival would be more financially beneficial to them, hence reducing exposure and possible loss of business opportunities. As stated in Section 3.2 this can generate a negative reputation for Happy Star and the Fan Expo in general and have many negative social and economic impacts.

6.0 Conclusions

This report has provided an overview of the Fan Expo Canada event and classified into the Hallmark event category. The event was then analysed in terms of its social impact, the stakeholders involved and economic implications. This report has found that Fan Expo appeals to a unique market and draws visitors to the town of Toronto. It has outlined relevant stakeholders and their goals and found that increased integration of local community groups with the planning process of the expo could be beneficial to future success and reduced dissonance.

This report described the importance of economic planning and how decisions that are made in the best interests of the event may not be in the best interests of the wider community.

This report aims to advise Hobby Star Marketing on the current and future states of their event and as related to tourism theory, what impact this may have on social and economic factors, as well as impact on event stakeholders as a whole. In conclusion recommendations will be put forward as to the best approach for event organisers to take in the future to ensure all stakeholders are kept satisfied as well as the wider community.

7.0 Recommendations

In hindsight to this report, the following recommendations are made:Increase communication with community industry leaders to ascertain the best approach in organising the event so maximum exposure can be generated.

Further develop networking events at the expo and facilitate the creation of business opportunities and discovery of new talent in the local community.

Promote to industry leaders the benefits of setting up operations in the community and tie this in with a major showcasing of their products at the following years expo.

Work closer with Toronto City Council to further promote local and regional tourism to increase longer stays and increased economic activity.

Reduce dissonance by operating competitively and ethically with other expos.

List of References

Allen, J O’Toole, W Harris, R McDonnell, I 2005, Festival and Special Event Management, John Wiley & Sons, Milton.

Hobby Star 2006, Fan Expo Canada, viewed 20 August 2006, Getz, D 1997, Event Management and Event Tourism, Cognizant Communication Corporation, New York.

Wikimedia Foundation 2006, Fan Expo Canada, viewed 6 August 2006,

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