Philadelphia is the fifth largest city in the United States and has been the host of multiple large-scale events in recent years. In the last three alone, the city hosted the Forbes Under 30 Summit twice; welcomed Pope Francis in 2015; and will serve as the gathering place for the upcoming Democratic National Convention in July. With large-scale events comes visitors from spaces and places far and wide. Why is event tourism so important not only to Philadelphia but to all major cities?
According to Donald Getz, a leading scholar in the field of tourism and event studies, the allure of event tourism is “its special attractiveness due to the desire of living the experience attached to the uniqueness of the event, which differentiates it from other places with permanent attractions of interest.”
In addition to attracting visitors, event tourism helps to improve the image of a host city or region, pique the interest of investors, and boost the economy.
Skai Blue Media has played a vital role in setting the stage for some of Philadelphia’s marquee events. We led all local PR efforts for the aforementioned Forbes Summit in 2014 and 2015, including strategizing with the executive team and liasioning with press. (See more in this case study.) During the Summit, attendees networked, mingled and listened to inspiring keynotes, which resulted in an experience that was beneficial for everyone involved. The Summit brought big names to the city, including Barbara Bush, Malala Yousafzai, Wiz Khalifa, Ashley Graham, and more.
Notable entrepreneurs and celebs were able to get to know Philadelphia and give back to the city by lending their expertise on Philly Impact Day, a day of service where Summit attendees visited local schools and professional ‘hot-spots’ to share their success stories and connect with young Philadelphians through mentoring sessions. Local attractions and businesses such as Pipeline Philly, the Kimmel Center, and the Pennsylvania Convention Center also opened their doors to host Summit events. The Summit showcased some of the great lifestyle activities Philadelphia has to offer through a themed bar crawl and even an Under 30 Rocky Run along the Schuylkill River, lead by Olympic Athletes and set to the motivational Rocky Theme Song played by Temple University’s marching band.
Philadelphia can expect similar events to occur on a larger scale during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in less than 100 days. Over 50,000 guests will attend the Convention, and at least 10,000 volunteers will ensure the multiple events run smoothly. This isn’t the first Convention that Philadelphia has hosted; in fact, it has been home to six Republican National Conventions and two Democratic National Conventions in the past.
The DNC, led by CEO Rev. Leah D. Daughtry, is making a concerted effort to engage diverse and local businesses in multiple aspects of the event.
For example, they’ve already hired Impact Dimensions, a local and certified Hispanic minority business as official merchandise provider and manager of the Convention. Local hotels and business are bracing themselves for the influx of tourists, delegates, celebrities and politicians; the Convention is even hoping that some businesses will extend their hours to accommodate schedules of late Convention events. Rev. Daughtry estimates that the economic impact of the Convention will be around $350 million.
Hosting a broad spectrum of events attracts an equally broad range of audiences, which benefits the economy, enriches the local culture and gives visitors plenty of reasons to come back. Budweiser’s Made in America Festival, for example, has become an institution in recent years, attracting thousands of visitors every year. The two-day concert, set on the steps of the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art, may bring in younger and music-focused crowds than the DNC, but its expected impact is no less profound for the city. Last year’s Made In America brought in an estimated $10 million to the region, and this figure is expected to increase with the festival’s popularity.
Philadelphia is an attractive location for special events because of its amenities; the food and bar scene has a lot to offer, there are numerous, renowned art museums and historical attractions, and a quarter of the US population lives within a five-hour driving distance. When a special event is looking for a home it’s no wonder that Philadelphia is a top choice.