Extensive Research Project - Report Published

First report from the most extensive event research project in Iceland: 
The National Championships of the Icelandic Horse 2016

Hólar University College and National Horse Show of Iceland just launched as an edited book the first report from a comprehensive, longitudinal study on the event at the annual presidents meeting of the National Association of Equestrian Clubs. The report contains key findings from a multi method study of the championships conducted by an international team of researchers who gathered data at the event in Hólar in the summer of 2016. The research team consists of researchers on events and equestrian sports and tourism from five universities in Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the UK.
 
The aim of the study is to develop an indepth analysis of the National Championships of the Icelandic Horse as an event, applicable to the development of this and other sports events as well as providing theoretical insights on the topic. Preliminary findings from the study are reported in this Icelandic language publication, that the researchers hope will be immediately useful for the event. Further analysis and writing of an English language publication is still ongoing with Guðrún Helgadóttir and Ingibjörg Sigurðardóttir as editors.
 
The topics discussed in the report range from economic impacts of the event, marketing, visitor satisfaction, residents´ expectation and experience, the experience of various target groups at the event and the organisation of the event site for horses and people.  The research methods included surveys, interviews, participant observation and discourse analysis.
 
The key findings were that the event met and partially, that is concerning the venue, surpassed target market expectations. Visitors and residents had positive experiences and the participants. The core attraction group that is horse owners and competition riders, were satisfied with the organization of the event and particularly the good facilities for the horses and how well the venue served the diverse needs of the main groups; spectators, contestants, breeders and horses.
 
However, the research indicates topics for improved future success. Mainly that a clearer policy needs to be developed and implemented to serve the international participants, both visitors and volunteers. The findings do not suggest increased marketing to attract this group but a more consistent and planned approach to enhance the quality of experience for the dedicated target group of the Icelandic horse world in other countries.  For example with timely planning, marketing and information and a language policy where Icelandic is the first language but the use of other languages is systematic and ensures dissemination of basic information. It is also important to note that even though it is an impressive result to have such a dedicated target market that attends the event every time, the new recruitment of visitors is only 6% which can be a sign of possible decline in attendance in the future.
 
The third point is that the economic impact of the event is substantial for the community. A conservative estimate of the economic impact during the 2016 event is about 160 million ISK revenue from visitors. This does not include the turnover of the event itself.
 
The next National Championships of the Icelandic Horse will be held Reykjavík July 1st -8th 2018 and preparation is in full swing – as are the presales of tickets!
 
The report is accessible by clicking on the title:  Rannsóknir á Landsmóti hestamanna: Hólar 2016  
 
For further information please contact the editors Ingibjörg Sigurðardóttir assistant professor at Hólar University College and project leader, email: inga@holar.is or Guðrún Helgadóttir professor University College of Southeast Norway, email: gudrun.helgadottir@usn.no 
 
October 31st 2017.
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