When Destination Management Association International (DMAI) debuted their Economic Impact Calculator in late 2011, DMOs welcomed the idea of reliably quantifying the value of events taking place in their cities.

"We use it for every group that comes into Grand Rapids," says George Helmstead, Executive VP of Experience Grand Rapids. Helstead believes that having a second party authenticate the local economic impact of events is invaluable for DMOs. "When the information comes from an organization that oversees all conventions and visitors bureaus, and we all use the same format, it gives us consistency across the country," he explains.

The consistency comes from using industry standard methodology, says Christine Shimasaki, CDME & CMP, Managing Director, empowerMINT.com & DMAI Event Impact Calculator. Shimasaki says the calculators output is useful to DMOs for 3 reasons:

  1. It reinforces to their stakeholders the ROI of a particular event.

  2. It helps the DMO to make better decisions regarding which events might have a greater impact on their local economy.

  3. It enables DMOs to emphasize the value of continued investment in the meetings market to their local stakeholders.

In practical terms, this means that DMOs, who spend significant amounts of money to attract meetings and events to their cities, can quantify and articulate the value of the events they're attracting to their stakeholders. By doing so, they're able to continue to invest in bringing new events and meetings to their city, which, in turn, helps grow the marketplace.

For example, in August 2012, Grand Rapids hosted the American Quilting Society Show, which estimated 21,000 attendees. Although about a quarter of those attendees were expected to stay overnight, Helmstead says that without any type of formula, its difficult to determine what a piece of business is worth to Grand Rapids when there's such a variation between overall and overnight attendees.

However, by using the DMAI Calculator, Grand Rapids was able to better understand how many of the AQS convention attendees booked hotel rooms and how much they spent on incidentals, like food and beverage. By quantifying this information, Grand Rapids could articulate the value of the AQS Show to the local economyand why they'd want to host it again in the future.

Helmstead says that in order to get the most dependable output from the DMAI Event Impact Calculator, its important to gather accurate data. He says the three most important things to look for are:

  • how many rooms you're using,

  • how many people are attending the event, and

  • how many people are attending from out of town.

"With those three variables, you can get a pretty accurate picture of a group," he explains.

Providing an accurate picture is a key attribute of the DMAI Calculator. "It's very sophisticated modeling that we've been able to do," says Shiminski. Using the calculator helps cities both understand and accurately report the events they hold. In high occupancy months, she explains, sales teams may want to be more discerning about which events they pursue. The data from the DMAI Event Impact Calculator can help them determine which ones are the best fit for their city.

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