Many Main Street organizations are planning major winter festivals and downtown shopping events. Although there is a festive feel in the air with these short days and cold weather, the lovely weather is not enough reason to plan and call on volunteers, sponsors, Main Street businesses and the public to hold a festival. There must be genuine and commonly understood goals and measurable benefits to the Main Street community for every event organized and executed by the Main Street organization. Is the event intended to drive customers to Main Street businesses? Is it to show off the Main Street district? Is it intended to raise funds for the Main Street organization?
With well-understood event goals, you will be able to ensure that your Main Street events continue to be a hit with the Main Street community by completing a post-event evaluation within a week of the event. The evaluation process will help identify the event’s strengths and weaknesses and will help to improve future events.
At a minimum, evaluate the following:
- Attendance: Who and how many attended? Estimate this using pedestrian counts, parking volume surveys, photo counts, exit surveys, ticket sales, etc.
- Event executions attitudes: What did volunteers, attendees and businesses think about the event? Collect this information using formal or informal surveys or evaluations distributed to event participants and organizers. Review the event logistics to determine what worked and what didn’t work.
- Economic impact: Ask Main Street businesses what economic impact the event had on them. Was there an increase in sales or foot traffic over the same period last year? What was that one thing that they really liked about the event and would like to see continued? What would they like changed or added to the event next time?
- Sponsor value: What was the media value of the event to your sponsors? Evaluate the cost and benefit to your sponsors based on attendance and the buying power of the attending audience. Survey attendees to gauge sponsor awareness. Prepare final reports for sponsors including attendance numbers, attendee demographics, assessment of media value and photos showing sponsor visibility at the event.
- Event Goals: Did the event meet its goals? Is it worth doing again?