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Comparative Analysis of Diaries and Projected Spending to Assess Patron Expenditure Behavior at Short-Term Sporting Events

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The fundamental purpose of an economic impact analysis is to measure the economic benefits that accrue to a community. However, if faulty research methodology is employed when generating these figures the validity of the data, as well as the integrity of the event, is often called into question. Therefore, whether conducting an assessment of “Olympic” proportions or otherwise it is imperative that the sporting event professional implement a data collection methodology that will yield the most precise direct expenditure figures. A vast majority of published economic impact studies have applied a recall expenditure methodology requiring respondents to backtrack spending behavior whereas a number of studies have requested patrons to project or “guesstimate” spending. Each of these procedures often yields incomplete or inaccurate data with respondents forgetting or misjudging expenditures. Wang and Irwin reported the effectiveness of using the expenditure diary procedure for short-term participant-driven sporting events but this methodology remained untested for the short-term spectator-driven sporting event. Therefore, the primary purpose of this study was to assess the applicability of an expenditure diary in this setting whereas a secondary purpose was to comparatively analyze data collected via the diary method and data collected from respondents requested to project spending behavior. For cross-validation purposes, the study was conducted at two National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships of similar nature (e.g., audience size, event schedule). At each event a subsample of respondents was provided postage-paid return-addressed expenditure diaries for return at completion of event-related spending and a second subsample was provided a self-administered questionnaire to be completed and returned on site. The use of existing demographic data demonstrated the representativeness of the samples, thus reducing, if not eliminating, the nonresponse error. Approximately 30% (N = 680) of the distributed expenditure diaries were returned for analysis, surpassing the 23% response threshold established by Faulkner and Raybould. The results demonstrate that individuals projecting expenses (N = 1,500) have greater variance in predicted expenses categorically (e.g., lodging) as well as summatively with an inclination for underestimating actual expenditures. Furthermore, a significantly smaller expenditure error was encountered when employing the diary procedure, thus rendering the results more reliable and credible while highlighting the need for sport event managers to exercise caution when employing other patron expenditure data collection procedures.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 1996

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