Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February 2012 Engage - Major Events and Their Impact

Compiled by Jeff Olmeda, Rick L'Amie and Marie-Claire Topper

Austin has been bitten by the festival fever bug and we like it. That was the consensus of the interactive audience poll conducted during this morning's Engage breakfast - part of our ongoing ATXpansion series. The topic focused on major events (from SXSW to the ACL Music Festival and more) and their impact. Austin has become a destination for many top-drawing festivals and conferences that not only shape the city, but also reflect its character. What's more, 50 percent of attendees participating in the live poll said that Austin could use more major events for their economic and quality of life benefits.

February 2012 Engage Panelists (from left to right): Hugh Forrest, SXSW Interactive;
Jon Roberts, TIP Strategies; Lisa Hickey, C3 Presents; Geoff Moore, Circuit of
the Americas; and moderator Shannon Wolfson, KXAN News

UPDATE I: Some sample "soundbites" from our panelists:

  • Hugh Forest - Event Director, SXSW Interactive Festival
    SXSW generated $167 million in 2011. We actually increased badge prices for Interactive part to scare people away... but people still come to Interactive. People love a scarce commodity. This is what makes a festival successful. We try to incorporate the community by having free shows, and there are also "spinoff" events to be a part of the festival.
  • Jon Roberts - Principal, TIP Strategies
    We can sustain more events in Austin. That's what it means to be an international city. We are never disappointed in Austin. There is always something to do every night because we are international.
  • Lisa Hickey - Festival Marketing Director, C3 Presents
    ACL is successful because it infuses Austin's culture. Approximately 60 percent of attendees are from Austin, 23 percent are outside of Texas, and two percent are international. ACL has contributed around $4 million to local charity organizations.
  • Geoff Moore - Chief Sales Marketing Officer, Circuit of the Americas
    On opening day, F1 is expecting one third [of the attendees to come from] Texas, one-third from elsewhere in the U.S., and one third international. F1 is trying to build something great. The market determines the pricing.

You can listen to the full conversation in our podcast below, but we'd like to hear from you as well. Do you agree with the attendees who say Austin should have more events? Do the the economic and quality of life benefits outweigh the negatives addressed today such as traffic, lack of hotel space, and rising ticket prices? What thoughts or concerns do you have about festivals and their impact? Leave a comment below and let us know!

As always, many thanks to our presenting sponsor Capital One Bank and special thanks to our program partners - The Long Center for the Performing Arts, KXAN News, Sterling Affairs Catering and Events - and our mobile technology partner 44Doors.

UPDATE II:: Media and blog coverage of the breakfast:

References from the discussion:


Live polling results:

Mouse over the pie charts below for more information on each of the responses.

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