The critical success factors for managing the visitor experience at a major musical event
With numerous artists coming to South Africa, the event industry is becoming congested with competition. This makes the production of a memorable visitor experience to events particularly challenging for the management of the event. Various aspects are required to occur when managing an event, and these contribute to the success and memorable experience of visitors. These aspects can either be controlled or uncontrolled by management. To ensure a successful event and memorable experience for visitors, event managers have to consider all of the various aspects that can be controlled within the event organisation when hosting a major music event. It is therefore important for management to ensure that the controllable key management aspects, also referred to as Critical Success Factors (CSFs), are implemented effectively and efficiently to ensure a memorable visitor experience. However, even though these management aspects (CSFs) may be familiar to event managers, the significance of what visitors regard as important concerning those aspects that would ensure a memorable visitor experience is, as yet, undefined. In addition, according to available literature, CSFs differ between the different events and different tourism organisations. Thus, CSFs identified at one event to ensure the successful management of a memorable visitor experience cannot be used at other events. Hosting major music events at various locations can be even more challenging as visitors attending major music events at different locations are a non-homogeneous market and so regard different aspects in different lights. Therefore, it is evident that the CSFs identified with regard to what visitors at one venue will consider as important will differ from those regarded as important at another venue, even when it is the same performer at each venue. Thus, it became critical to seek answers to the questions of what visitors to a major music event regarded as important CSFs and how did the importance of these CSFs differ between location and location? Therefore, the purpose of this study became the determination of the CSFs for managing the visitor experience at major music events in South Africa. The year 2011 was the first time that world-famous Neil Diamond had performed in South Africa. Neil Diamond performed four concerts at different locations (Johannesburg’s FNB stadium, Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, Cape Town’s Greenpoint Stadium and at Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Stadium). This was the first time major music events had been held at these venues where one performing artist performed at all four different locations (cities). Thus, this event was the ideal opportunity to investigate. In order to realise the goal of the research, surveys were conducted at the four Neil Diamond concerts held, respectively, in Johannesburg (1 April, 2011), Durban (5 April, 2011), Port Elizabeth (8 April, 2011) and Cape Town (11 April, 2011) where, altogether, 1820 questionnaires were administered. The purpose of the first article was to determine what visitors at a major musical event regarded as critical management aspects, or as critical success factors (CSFs), for a memorable and satisfactory visitor experience. This was to aid major music event managers with information they could use to improve and ensure memorable visitor experiences in the future. A factor analysis was performed to determine the CSFs. Six factors were revealed, being General Management; Souvenirs; Marketing; Venue and Technical aspects; Accessibility and Parking; and Amenities and Catering. General Management, Venue and Technical aspects and Marketing were regarded as the most important CSFs for visitors to a major music event. It was subsequently confirmed that CSFs differed from one event to another. Thus it became clear that one set of CSFs cannot be used across each venue for events. By determining the CSFs, and through successfully managing these factors, major music events will ensure the retention of long term visitor goodwill, and so will remain competitive and sustainable. Neil Diamond presented four concerts at four different locations, The purpose of the second article was to determine the impact that location makes to the visitor experience at a major music event. Two-way frequency tables and Chi-square tests as well as ANOVAS and Turkey’s multiple comparisons were used to determine the differences between the four locations. Statistically significant differences were found, based on demographic, behavioural variables and motivational factors. Determining the effects these differences have provided major music event managers with superior knowledge in order to develop and manage future concerts at the differing destinations and locations. This research also help management to create a memorable visitor experience and so foster the promotion of future events more effectively to the target audiences, as well as potential sponsors. This specificity can also enhance bid documents for organisations and locations aiming at hosting major music events. This research revealed six critical success factors at a major music event. These CSFs can be used to enhance the visitor experience. However, it was also found that one set of CSFs cannot be used for every event as different locations regard different CSFs as being more important than others. Since major music events are often held at more than one location, it becomes critical to differentiate each location as the visitors to the various locations cannot be seen as homogeneous and so will have different needs and expectations. Thorough and informed knowledge of what is required for visitor satisfaction will not only ensure an improved event, but will enhance the visitor experience at such an event. This was the first time research was performed at major music events in South Africa that revealed the profile, motives, CSFs and spending behaviour of visitors to these events. Research not only provided information concerning the CSFs needed to manage the visitor experience at a major music event, but also provided an overall perspective of what visitors regard as important for a memorable visitor experience at four different geographic destinations hosting the same artist. This research contributes to the literature concerning the management of major music events and concerning the creation of memorable visitor experiences at these events.