Convention Center officials using ‘Event Impact’ tool

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 50 views 

The Fort Smith Convention Center (FSCC) has added a new piece of technology to determine event profitability before ever signing on the dotted line. Through the DMAI Event Impact Calculator, FSCC administration can now determine the economic impact of a single event specific to the Fort Smith region before it ever takes place.

The program was unveiled on Tuesday (Sept. 25) at the monthly meeting of the Fort Smith Advertising and Promotion Commission (A&P) in the Green Room of the Fort Smith Convention Center.

Fort Smith A&P Executive Director Claude Legris said the new program “will help us decide how much we want to go after a piece of business.”

By entering a number of parameters, such as average persons per hotel room, number of overnight attendees, and number of attendees native to the area, the FSCC will be able to determine the probable economic impact of a convention, trade show, sporting event or concert in less than a minute. It will also be able to use the actual data from the event to create a side-by-side comparison of expectations versus actual results.

The Event Impact Calculator is another step forward in the A&P’s efforts to move the FSCC toward profitability. Following a June audit report pointing out a number of deficiencies in how the venue was managed (mostly prior to A&P control which started in January 2012), it was announced that the Center would take part in a benchmarking survey report from the International Association of Venue Managers, Inc., starting in early 2013.

The survey report will allow FSCC administration to see how the 40,000-square foot venue is stacking up against venues of comparable size throughout the country.

With the Event Impact Calculator, active for eight weeks, the A&P can further scrutinize how it is maximizing revenue. Legris said an event coordinator could provide economic impact numbers, and FSCC administration could then “use those numbers to verify” the validity of the claim. The A&P will also be able to use the program to determine hard data regarding return on investment in local taxes and for marketing purposes, Legris said.

The FSCC’s 2012 performance could use the boost. While revenues continue to go up, so do expenses.

According to August numbers, event revenue totaled $31,532 against $181,559 in expenses. Year-to-date numbers show $419,027 in revenues against $849,549 in expenses. Compare these numbers to 2011 when the Center showed $311,540 against $844,364. Still, revenues have increased by $107,487, while the difference in expenses has been an almost unnoticeable $5,185.

The FSCC is helped along by a $777,000 donation from the city of Fort Smith’s general fund, which according to Fort Smith Administrator Ray Gosack is projecting a slight 0.2% increase from 2012 to 2013.

The five top grossing events for the FSCC during the month of August were the Arkansas Cattlemen event ($7,050); the Hannah House event ($3,905); the Arkansas Anime Festival ($3,866); the Hispanic Catholic Charismatic event ($3,800); and Defending Our Defenders ($1,870).

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