Book Online

« Back to previous page

2014 Great American Outdoor Show: NRA produces positive results for HHR.

Published: Feb 20, 2014

Tourism officials report significant increases in attendance & lodging for first year of new outdoor show held at the PA Farm Show Complex & Expo Center.

Harrisburg, PA – The Dauphin County Commissioners are slated to discuss the official results of the 2014 Great American Outdoor Show (GAOS) released today by the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau (HHRVB).

Chris O’Hara, show manager for 2014 GAOS will report the official economic impact numbers from the recent nine-day outdoor show that returned to the PA Farm Show Complex & Expo Center (FSC) in Harrisburg from February 1-9, after a hiatus in 2013. The previous show was cancelled following a boycott by vendors over a show policy that was enacted by the previous show producer.

The cancellation in 2013 resulted in 22 local hotels losing thousands of room-nights and the regional economy taking an estimated $80 million hit. In the days that followed, the PA Farm Show Complex leadership worked closely with the Dauphin County Commissioners Office and HHRVB to begin an aggressive search for a replacement in 2014. Within ten weeks of the cancellation, the local coalition had selected the National Rifle Association (NRA) among 17 proposals that were submitted by national show producers bidding for the show that had become an established pillar of the region’s major events calendar over its 65-year history.

“The results are significant,” said HHRVB President, Mary Smith. “The NRA had a vision for the next chapter of this show and they are off to a great start; besting the 2012 outdoor show numbers across nearly all of our core economic impact indicators.”

GAOS 2014 By the Numbers

Attendance:    23% increase in attendance in 2014 vs 2012.
  Increase based on PA Farm Show Complex & Expo Center parking reports 2014 (42,784 cars) vs2012 (34,860 cars). Estimated people in attendance based on parking results = 2014 (171,136people) vs 2012 (140,000 people).
Lodging: 27% increase in occupancy in 2014 vs 2012.
  Based on STR lodging report for “demand/room-nights sold” for same 9-day period in 2012. Approximately 10,033 more room-nights were sold in 2014 (46,873 room-nights) vs 2012 (36,840 room-nights).
  66% increase in occupancy in 2014 vs 2013 (the year without a show).
  Based on STR lodging report for “demand/room-nights sold” for same 9-day period in 2013 when the show was cancelled. Approximately 18,580 more room-nights sold in 2014 (46,873 room-nights) vs 2013 (28,293 room-nights) without a show.
Direct Spending: $35 Million in Direct Spending by Attendees & Vendors.
  Conservative estimates based on 1 room-night for each vendor x 10 nights and 10% of estimated attendees staying 1-night; and remaining attendees counted as day-visitors. Each room-night is multiplied by an average spend of $300/day and each day-visitor is multiplied by $180/day.
Economic Impact:       $70 Million Economic Impact (Includes Direct & Indirect Spending)
  Based on industry standard of calculating direct spending and doubling that value to account for secondary spending and overall economic impact.
Hotel Partnerships:     50% Increase in Participating Partner Hotels in 2014 vs 2013.
  Based on total number of hotels in Dauphin County contracted as official hotel blocks in 2014 vs 2013
City Tax Revenue: $200,000 in Tax Revenue projected for the City of Harrisburg.
  Calculations based on 10% Admission/Amusement tax rate applied to total estimated attendance x $12 ticket price for show in 2014.

Q&A

Q:

How did this show compare to previous outdoor shows?

A:

As the new producer of an outdoor show with a 65-year tradition in the Hershey Harrisburg Region, the NRA has been cautious when asked to make any direct comparisons of The Great American Outdoor Show to past shows. However, the producers did set their own aggressive goals for their first show in 2014. This first year will serve as a solid benchmark for all future Great American Outdoor Shows the NRA plans to produce annually at the PA Farm Show Complex & Expo Center in Harrisburg.

Q:

As an event producer new to this region, how do you feel the NRA was received this first year?

A:

According to the NRA they were very pleased with the response from everyone involved in making this show possible. From a community standpoint, Harrisburg’s new Mayor Eric Papenfuse was a gracious host and much of the NRA leadership had opportunities to meet with him in the days & weeks leading up to the show. The producers also felt the local tourism industry including the staff & leadership at the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau and the PA Farm Show Complex & Expo Center all welcomed them with warm embrace and were anxious to assist. The feedback from vendors and attendees during the show this year was also very positive and the NRA is looking forward to returning in 2015.

Q:

How was attendance this year?

A:

The NRA’s initial attendance goal for this first year was 200,000 people. The producer has not released official ticket sales or attendance numbers for the 2014 show; however initial reports say they were close to reaching their goal. Confirmed attendance totals may not be available for this year as producers reported initial technical issues with barcode readers used for tracking tickets; and the NRA reports selling nearly 4,800 NRA Memberships on location which included free admission to the show.

Q:

Do you consider this year a success?

A:

Everyone involved in the show believes this year was a great success considering this was the first year back after a devastating year off; it was a new producer with a new vision; the show had some new fundamental changes; and the region experienced a challenging week of severe winter weather. 

Q:

How do you think the winter weather impacted the show this year?

A:

Producers saw steady attendance throughout the week regardless of the winter weather. But weather can certainly become a major factor for attendance numbers, especially in this part of the country in early February. And this show pulls attendees from throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions which were all dealing with severe winter storms. So tourism officials feel the weather either completely changed some people’s decision to travel to the area for this show or it encouraged people to extend their stays once they arrived. The region’s hotels reported a spike in lodging on the nights the weather was the worst.

Q:

Some media has reported a 25% increase in attendance in 2014 over the 2012 Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show. Assuming the 2014 show made the goal of 200,000 attendees that means the previous show had approximately 160,000 attendees. But previous reports have stated the estimated attendance for the past outdoor show was as high as 250,000 people. Can you explain the discrepancy? 

A:

We understand that the previous producer did not report show attendance publicly. The 250,000 attendance estimate often quoted publicly for this show was apparently based on the largest estimated attendance ever reported to local tourism officials by a past outdoor show producer. Tourism officials did not track or calculate show attendance independently from year to year, but projected overall economic impact reports based on lodging reservations, the number of vendors, and estimated attendees from venue parking reports.

Q:

How is attendance now being calculated by tourism officials for the GAOS? 

A:

For events at the PA Farm Show Complex & Expo Center that do not report attendance publicly the visitors bureau has often relied on parking numbers provided by venue management to calculate estimated attendance. For the outdoor show, which requires extensive auxiliary parking beyond official venue areas, tourism officials approximate attendance by calculating four (4) people per car reported by the venue.

Q:

How did parking results in 2014 compare to 2012?

A:

The Farm Show Complex & Expo Center management reported 42,784 cars in 2014 compared to 34,860 cars in 2012; representing a 23% increase in parking for 2014. Parking numbers only include lots associated with the Farm Show Complex & Expo Center and do not account for auxiliary lots at malls, nearby colleges, etc. 

Q:

Based on parking numbers, how does attendance compare between 2014 vs 2012?

A:

Using a formula of four (4) people per car, tourism officials would estimate the attendance for the 2014 show at 171,136; and attendance in 2012 at 140,000.

Q:

What was the estimated Economic Impact of the show this year?

A:

Tourism officials are conservatively estimating the show had at least a $70 million economic impact for the region; based on $35 million in Direct Spending by vendors and attendees plus an additional $35 million in Indirect Spending.

Q:

How is Direct Spending calculated?

A:

Direct Spending is calculated by taking the number of vendors & attendees and multiplying by the average daily spending per person. The average spending multipliers are: $180/day per Day Visitor; and $300/day per Overnight Visitors including the cost of a hotel room.

Q:

What was the breakdown in estimated spending by Attendees and Vendors?

A:

General Attendees – ($32.64 million total): based on venue parking calculations tourism officials used an approximation of 170,000 people x $180/day average spend per person without a hotel room = $30.6 million (Direct Spend by Attendees only); then assumed 10% of attendees stayed overnight which equals 17,000 attendees spending 1-night = (17,000 room-nights) x $120/night per room = $2.04 million (additional Direct Spend by overnight attendees).

 

Vendors – ($3 million): tourism officials used the extremely simplified equation of 1,000 vendor spaces x 1 person per vendor space staying in 1 hotel room for 10 days = (10,000 room-nights) x $300/day average spend per person with a hotel room = $3 million (Direct Spend by Vendors).

Q:

How did hotels respond to the show this year after losing so much business in 2013?

A:

There was a 50% increase in the total number of regional hotel partners that participated as officiallodging properties for the 2014 show compared to the 2013 show. This increase also demonstrates asignificant jump in the total percentage of regional hotel properties represented in partnership with the2014 show.

 

2013 - 22 hotels participated in the room block program; representing 28% of the 78 hotels available in the region that year.

 

2014 - 33 hotels were involved in the room block program; representing 40% of the 81 hotels currently available in the region.

Q:

How did the 2014 lodging results compare vs 2012 & 2013?

A:

The following is according to the STR lodging reports evaluated by the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau for the 9-day period of the outdoor show over a 3-year period.

Room-Nights (Demand)

2012 – 36,840 room-nights

2013 – 28,293 room-nights (show cancelled = 36% drop in room-nights sold in 2013 vs 2012.)

2014 – 46,873 room-nights (65.7% more room-nights vs 2013 and 27.2% more room-nights vs 2012.)

Comparisons by Years

2014 vs 2012 --- 10,033 more room-nights were sold in the region in 2014 vs 2012, the most recent year with an outdoor show; representing a 27.2% increase in room-nights sold.

2014 vs 2013 --- 18,580 more room-nights were sold in the region in 2014 vs 2013, the previous year without the outdoor show; representing a 65.7% increase in room-nights sold.

Q:  How will the City of Harrisburg benefit from this show?

A: The City of Harrisburg is projected to receive over $200,000 in Amusement Tax revenue from the estimated number of tickets sold for the 2014 show; approximating attendance of 170,000 x $12 ticket = $2.04 million x 10% Amusement Tax = $204,000.

 

About the National Rifle Association

Established in 1871, the National Rifle Association is America’s oldest civil rights and sportsmen’s group. Five million members strong, NRA continues its mission to uphold Second Amendment rights and is the leader in firearm education and training for law-abiding gun owners, law enforcement and the military.

Author: Rick Dunlap

Public Relations Director
Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau
3211 North Front Street, Suite 301 A, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Rick@HersheyHarrisburg.org
Rick's Twitter 
Cell: 717.884.3328

Latest Entries
In November 2016, our friends at The Town Dish explored how to live "The Mansion Life" in PA's capital city. See their extensive list of recommendations on where to eat, play and stay in high style in Harrisburg, PA.