The concepts and practical implementation of effective event management is founded on a variety of issues and factors. As such, those at the forefront of managing a particular event are required to account for diverse issues which may serve to affect either the planning or practical establishment of an event. In this sense, it is possible to see the degree to which event management assumes features which are intrinsic to general project management. Thus, events in this sense can be viewed as being reliant on a clear and detailed management programme which aims to account for diverse factors and thus offset the possibility of structural difficulties (Berridge, 2006).
Events can also essentially be viewed as operations. Diversity in the event process results in operational procedures which focus heavily on the manner in which management deals with the event itself. As such, operational management lies at the heart of any effective event staging (Berridge, 2006).
Given the above, the purpose of this work is to assess and examine a specific example of event staging and the operational management issues which arise. Just as the structural process of event management engenders diversity and divergence, so too are the outcomes of a particular event equally diverse. As such, event management has outcomes and wider connotations including; economic outcomes, social effects, risk management, sales, marketing or income generation. Given this list of potential outcomes is fairly wide-ranging, a strong degree of focus is clearly required. As such, this work will assess and examine the event management processes involved in staging the Welsh Snooker Open, held annually in Newport each year. In terms of event management processes and outcomes, the Welsh Open will be assessed on the basis of marketing and income generation. These two outcomes are particularly prevalent with regards to the event in question. In particular, the staging of the Welsh Open has over recent years become increasingly focused on reinvigorating public and commercial interest in the event and of snooker in general. As such, the processes and functions involved in the event management of the Welsh Open must at times be conceptualised within the broader framework of World Snooker and the attempts which have been made to bolster ticket sales and viewing figures. This being said, the Welsh Open has management features which are essentially unique to the event itself and the specific area in which it is held. As such, this study will assume a dual process which assesses the Welsh Open on the basis of marketing and income generation, both on the basis of the specific event and the wider management agenda of World Snooker.
In order that this assessment is formed on a firm structural foundation, it is necessary that the event itself is described and some definitional parameters provided. The Welsh Open acts as one of the key ranking events in World Snooker. It is held at the Newport Centre every February (World Snooker, 2010). As such, the competition involves all the leading players in the snooker world. However, unlike larger ranking events such as the World Championship, the Welsh Open is played over a much shorter time period. Thus, the tournament lasts one week and is played consistently through a structural process of sessions. Therefore, there is an afternoon and evening session, each lasting eight frames in total (World Snooker, 2010). All sessions are played to a live audience and televised. The latter stages of the tournament invariably draw higher crowds. Moreover, viewing figures generally increase as the tournament develops into the semi-final and final stages.
Therefore, it is possible to see that the Welsh Open is essentially a sporting event. Given this, the management of the event must be based heavily around ensuring effective processes and structures for the competitors. Moreover, the practical implementation of the event relies heavily on the management formulations of World Snooker. As such, although the Welsh Open has its own intrinsically unique features, the management of the event itself forms part of the wider agenda for World Snooker and the aims and objectives of the sport overall.
However, although the Welsh Open is clearly a sporting event, the strategic management of such an event needs to actively consider the wider connotations of the event, in addition to its position as a ranking tournament within the sport of snooker. Above all, like the vast majority of sports, snooker needs to be conceptualised and organised as a business which yields financial profits. The need for snooker to be organised as a profit making business is essential in order for the continued effectiveness of the sport itself. As such, management processes have to be aimed at ensuring effective use of financial resources. Moreover, in order for financial yields to be positive and beneficial, it is essential that public participation is developed as far as possible. Therefore, it is certainly possible to see at the outset the degree to which the issues of marketing and income generation are heavily inter-reliant (Getz, 2007). Thus, although the following discussion assesses these factors in relative isolation, it remains essential to bear in mind the extent to which they interact upon one another at a fundamental level.
Bowdin et al (2004; 179) suggest that effective marketing acts as an essential pivot of effective event management. In particular, when an event requires the active participation of the general public, the need to ensure that the event is marketed effectively increases considerably. In particular, Bowdin et al (2004; 179-180) focus on the degree to which marketing in modern events requires an understanding of the fragmentation and diversity which is often required. Moreover, the essential focus of any marketing campaign ultimately lies with the consumer. Thus, consumer-focused marketing in an event like the Welsh Open is essential in order that the consumer receives an effective and enjoyable product whilst simultaneously ensuring high yield returns for the business itself.
The specific features of the Welsh Open thus require a detailed understanding of marketing strategies. As suggested above, the Welsh Open acts as one of the key ranking tournament events in snooker. Given this, the overall marketing strategy of World Snooker must be actively considered in conjunction with the intrinsic uniqueness of the Welsh Open. In recent years there has been a consistent effort on the part of World Snooker to radically alter marketing strategies on which the sport is based. In particular, this overall strategy has centred on making snooker a dynamic and attractive sport in an era where high levels of competition exist for broadcasting share. As such, the key focus of marketing strategy in snooker generally has centred on a wish to distance the sport from the stuffy and brogan image often associated with it. Moreover, whereas during the 1970s snooker was often viewed as a fringe sport, the modern game has attempted to market to the wider population in as broad and diverse a way as possible (World Snooker, 2010). Therefore, with specific reference to the Welsh Open, attempts have been made to invigorate the event in a way which creates interest in diverse groups. Thus, the event management of the Welsh Open is required to actively consider the socio-economic factors which prevail in the area where the event is being held. Naturally, events such as the Welsh Open create interest on a national basis and thus the marketing strategy needs to be formed on a national basis to some degree. However, particularly with regards to the live audience, a marketing strategy which focuses on the local area and surrounding areas is essential. This diversity in the marketing process often occurs when events engender both a national and local impact. In particular, Getz (2007; 62) suggests that marketing strategies in event management may sometimes differ depending on the focus requirements of the event. Once again, an active understanding of socio-economic considerations is essential; however, such considerations will differ on the basis of diverse social and economic settings. In relation to the event presently under investigation, it is possible to see how marketing strategies for the Welsh Open will inevitably differ compared to other World Snooker events. For example, the socio and economic considerations of the Welsh Open will be markedly different to those of the Masters, held annually at the Wembley Conference Arena in London.
Therefore, the above assessment highlights the degree to which marketing strategies in event management engender significant diversity, even in cases where the event is part of a wider sport which has obvious national connotations. As such, the marketing strategy adopted in the Welsh Open must fit the needs and requirements of the specific social and economic environment in Newport and the surrounding areas. Generally speaking, although Newport and the surrounding areas have seen increased investment over recent years, the economic and social conditions of the general area inevitably suffer from low levels of development. Given this, the marketing approach undertaken the Welsh Open event must reflect the uniqueness of such socio-economic conditions. For example, in the early stages of the event it may be beneficial to offer low ticket prices in order to achieve higher public participation in the event. Indeed, strategies over recent years have attempted such moves. Thus, although snooker events in general do often struggle attracting significant crowd figures in the early stages, appropriate marketing processes which aim to address this is essential.
The specific marketing strategy undertaken in the Welsh Open will therefore have unique features which essentially rest on a clear set of aims and objectives. Indeed, Bowdin et al (2004, 185) suggest that this can be termed as “constructing the mission”. Therefore, the marketing mission must account for diversity in the local environment, whist also ensuring that the roles and requirements of the stakeholders involved are actively considered in the initial management strategy. The Welsh Open has numerous stakeholders. As such, the interests and wishes of the Newport Centre, World Snooker, local businesses and the local population must be accounted for in a marketing strategy which accounts for such stakeholder diversity.
Just as the marketing strategy of an event requires a clear structural process which accounts for diversity and fragmentation, similar issues arise with regards to income generation. As suggested above, snooker as a national sport has in recent years attempted to dramatically transform in economic and financial foundations in a way which results in higher income yields. At the national level, this process has been personified by an increasing willingness to attract new forms of sponsorship. In particular, given that sports like snooker and cricket historically relied on advertising and sponsorship from the tobacco industry, over recent years there has been a deliberate attempt to reinvigorate the sponsorship and income generation in snooker. As such, one central pivot of income generation at the Welsh Open comes directly from sponsorship deals made with private companies. Naturally, this sponsorship assumes national connotations and thus World Snooker as a national entity is responsible for much of the sponsorship strategy undertaken in its various events. However, given that there is a clear opportunity to generate income through locally based sponsorship, management strategy at the Welsh Open event itself must be directed at local businesses.
The above discussion has highlighted the prominent importance of sponsorship as a means of generating increased income at an event. However, it is essential to note that sponsorship is merely one component of income generation. Indeed, Shone & Parry (2004; 52) suggests that although sponsorship is key to ensuring higher yields of income for an event, generating increased sponsorship is only one part of a wider process which requires active planning on the part of the event management. The means and methods through which income generation is achieved at a particular event are heavily dependent on the nature of the event itself (Shone & Parry, 2004). As such, ensuring that comprehensive processes aimed at increasing income yields is essential. In the Welsh Open, generating increased income can be achieved through a number of methods. For example, although the tournament itself acts as the central attraction, it is important to remember that the snooker players themselves can be utilised as a means of increasing income generation via methods outside of the official tournament itself. Therefore, income generation processes such as exhibitions could be used as a method of increasing interest in the event. Such increase in interest will inevitably have a positive affect in terms of the income generated and could be adopted before, during and after the actual event itself. In this sense it is possible to see the degree to which a leisure event like the Welsh Open could be administered and managed in a way which focuses on a number of smaller fringe events, in addition to the main event itself.
Furthermore, income generation at an event such as the Welsh Open has connotations which stretch far beyond the auspices of the actual event itself and possible fringe events. As suggested earlier, event management is diverse and often divergent; therefore, the issue of income generation reflects this diversity as various stakeholders seek to increase their potential income from the event (Tarlow, 2002). For example, stakeholders such as those in the hotel or hospitality industries in and around Newport have considerable income related potential. However, in addition to such industries having a selfish motivation which aims to tap into the income benefits of the event, the hospitality industry has a central role to play in making the experience of those attending the event an enjoyable and memorable one. As such, it is possible to see how the event management structure has an essentially collaborative role to play with other actors with stakes in the event. Indeed, in addition to the hospitality industry, actors involved in transport would also have a central role to play in enhancing the overall experiences of those attending the event. Thus, multi-actor collaboration is clearly essential in the Welsh Open and the management strategy for the overall event must ensure that active processes are put in place which engenders effective policies and practices.
The various discussions and assessments undertaken above have aimed to examine the essential management related features of the Welsh Open. Above all, what is clear is that event management at a leisure event of this kind must actively take into account a wide-array of issues and factors. As with all events, income generation and marketing are evidently pivotal to the success of the Welsh Open. However, the active management practices adopted must ensure that the unique characteristics of the Welsh Open are understood, in addition to meeting the overall aims and objectives of World Snooker. Given this, it is possible to see how the marketing and income generation of a leisure event like the Welsh Open must be based on clear management practice and an overt strategy. Outlining underlying aims and objectives is clearly paramount in this process; however, of greater relevance to this work is the need to have in place practical event management processes which forge a direct link between theory and practical implementation. Indeed, much of the discussion undertaken in this work has aimed to highlight this interaction between theory and practice and the degree to which it affects outcomes at events like the Welsh Open.
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