Industry Update: PGAV report Explores Growing Popularity of One-Time Events, Unique Experiences

The increasing popularity of impermanent entertainment such as festivals, sporting events, and exercise is the focus of a report from St. Louis-based design firm PGAV Destinations.

The report, The Fight for Attendance: The Attraction of the Non-Attraction, explores the growing competition
between permanent attractions such as zoos and theme parks and impermanent activities such as a live or televised baseball game or working out at the gym.

“The local competitive landscape is an essential practice among managers of museums, zoos, theme parks, and more,” said Mike Konzen, Chair, and Principal of PGAV Destinations. “The evolution of digital technology and a generational preference for unique experiences demands that these leaders consider an entirely separate cadre of entertainment competition.”

The report explores the popularity, trends and success of themed and music festivals, live and televised sports, tabletop board games, streaming and cable television, and exercise. Existing for just an hour or several days, these activities provide a variety of unique opportunities that continue to grow in popularity and can expose people to new interests or possibly establish themselves as annual traditions.

Attracting 32 million Americans every year, more than 800 annual music festivals thrive on providing a variety of entertainment, building community, and strengthening brand loyalty among their attendees, according to the report. Nearly 133 million people attend professional sports events each year, and the NCAA is just shy of being an $800 million annual industry. Fans who can’t make it to the actual game spend more than 31 billion hours watching 127,000 hours of televised sports programming every year.

“The audiences for these entertainment outlets are enormous and with their frequency and formats, the opportunity to engage and re-engage consistently hold viewers,” says Konzen. “The goal of The Fight for Attendance is to
explore what makes these opportunities successful, and for attraction managers to consider practices and approaches for their own destinations to increase audiences and participation.”

Many of these experiences are not fulfilled in booming stadiums or in massive event spaces. Instead, streaming video
services are proving to be a troubling disruptor to Hollywood and the television industry, with hundreds of millions of subscribers often opting to stay at home on a weekend day to “Netflix and chill” and live-Tweet while they binge-watch their favorite series. The growing inclination to spend an evening at home with friends rolling dice and playing cards has led to a remarkable resurgence in the board game industry in the last decade with global sales totaling $9.6 billion in 2016 alone. Enthusiasts note the allure of repeatability, strategy, and complex social interaction in their most popular games.

In 2017, as in every year, people made numerous health-related resolutions. More than 36,000 fitness centers nationwide are home to nearly 57 million members, and almost two million people completed half marathons in 2016. The drive to live a healthier lifestyle impacts a person’s schedule, from when/where they train and exercise to where/what they choose to eat and whether they seek an activity or rest/relaxation. While varied and annually evolving, these extracurricular choices offer key lessons for permanent attraction managers at zoos, museums, theme parks, aquariums, and resorts.

The report in the latest issue of Destinology can be read in full at pgavdestinations.com/insights.

About the author

Joe Clote

Joseph W. Clote is owner of Publishing Concepts, LLC a communications and marketing firm based in Saint Louis, Missouri. Mr. Clote is Group Publisher of MeetMed™ and Missouri Meetings & Events™ (MM&E) magazine, a quarterly publication read by thousands of meeting and event professionals, and producer of the St. Louis and Kansas City trade shows under the MM&E name. Mr. Clote has extensive sales and marketing expertise in the travel, tourism, fine art, insurance, and software development industries.