Edinburgh Napier student – Brodie Sutton – is winner of UK Undergraduate Event Management Student of the Year award from the Association for Events Management Education (AEME)

For the second year in a row, an Edinburgh Napier University student has been awarded the title of UK Undergraduate Event Management Student of the Year from the Association for Events Management Education (AEME).

AEME is an international organisation that aims to support and raise the profile of the events discipline through the sharing of education and best practice. This is the second year of AEME presenting this major award, and the second year the award went to an Edinburgh Napier University student, with Cameron Hughes receiving the award in 2021.

Brodie Sutton, winner of the 2022 Award was nominated by his dissertation supervisor Dr Gary Kerr, Associate Professor in Festival & Event Management.

Brodie graduated with a first-class BA (Hons) in International Festival & Event Management with Entrepreneurship. Brodie’s first class degree is representative of his consistent excellent grades he achieved throughout his four years at Edinburgh Napier University. His dissertation examined how drones can be used safely and efficiently at events, creating theoretical and practical insights.

Brodie has been Programme Representative at Staff-Student Liaison Committee over the past 4-years, being shortlisted in 2020 for Edinburgh Napier Student Association’s ‘Best Programme Representative Award’. He was also nominated by his peers and shortlisted this year for Edinburgh Napier Student’s Associations’ ‘Most Inspiring Student Award’.

Brodie served as President (2021-22) of the Edinburgh Napier Events Society. Here, he has guided the society and overseen its development. He has impressed academic staff through a comprehensive calendar of online and hybrid events during the Covid-19 pandemic including organising a Winter Ball for 500 students. He has enriched the student experience through creating opportunities for fellow students – many of whom have gone on to secure work relevant to their university course, in managerial roles, even before graduating from university.

Brodie has been Vice-Coordinator of Meadows Marathon – and led the sponsorship, marketing & partnerships team in this role. This has generated significant funds for the charities supported by the Marathon.

Academic staff at The Business School have been particularly impressed in seeing Brodie step up in the role as Trustee of Edinburgh Student Charities Appeal (ESCA) and to see him share his event management skills with others working for the charity. Passionate about enhancing the student experience, Brodie appeared on the ‘Events for Breakfast’ podcast talking about the need to give students ways of reconnecting post-lockdown.

Remarkably, Brodie has been instrumental in helping academic colleagues in The Business School plan and deliver hybrid and online events. He managed the online deliveries of the ATLAS Events Special Interest Group symposium held at ENU in October 2020, and also managed platform delivery for the BAFA Festivals Forum.

David Jarman, Programme Leader of the BA (Hons) International Festival & Event Management suite of courses said “Brodie has been a fantastic student who has performed so well inside and outside of the classroom, and is fully deserving of this award. We have seen Brodie go from strength to strength. Through his ambition, hard work and professionalism, Brodie has been able to apply learning from the classroom in practical ways, and I’m delighted he has been recognised in this way”.

To find out more about studying Festival and Event Management and the various joint degrees available at Edinburgh Napier University, please click here.

PhD student, Benedetta Piccio: My experience at the THE INC 2022 conference

by Benedetta Piccio

The tourism, hospitality and event industries have been majorly impacted by the Covid19 pandemic over the past two years. Lockdowns, social distancing, and restrictions have had serious consequences on events; resulting in cancellations or being moved online.

In Edinburgh, the summer festivals released a statement in April 2020 announcing that festivals would not go ahead as planned for the first time in 73 years. They are only just returning this summer in full swing.

THE INC 2022 conference’s topic: Tourism, Hospitality and Events Innovation and Resilience during Uncertainty, was well situated with the current environment. The conference took place at the end of June at the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) in Limassol.

As my PhD looks at Women, festival leadership and social transformation: the case of Edinburgh, the world’s leading festival city, presenting part of my research at the INC2022 conference was an incredible opportunity. My research focuses on understanding gender inequalities and obstacles women face during their career progression within the festival industry.

I had recently finished my data collection that consisted of 33 interviews, with one of the questions investigating the effects of the past two years on female festival organisers’ roles and positions. And my presentation at THE INC2022 conference was about an initial analysis of my data.

The results show that female festival leaders have strongly demonstrated innovation and resilience during the past years. One of my participants commented:

“For me the last two years have probably been a test of any leadership and probably the biggest test has been a test of resilience (…) it was about how can I now move into a mode of leadership that is about survival and that is about supporting my team, my colleagues and holding this together.”

The past two years have also improved the working conditions in terms of flexibility and the possibility of working from home, which was something that never existed before:

“Our policy of like pretty flexible, a lot of flexibility in terms of working. So we can kind of work around pick up times and drop off times if we need to.”

My research is still in progress, so the conference was a great opportunity for me to share my initial findings with fellow researchers and academics, and to discuss my work with them and gain valuable feedback.

The conference had great keynote speakers on the resilience and innovation of the event, tourism and hospitality industries: Professor Jane Ali-Knight, from Edinburgh Napier University, Professor Cathy Hsu, from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), and Professor Scott McCabe, University of Nottingham.

Get in touch: benedetta.piccio@napier.ac.uk

New report offers guidance to events industry partners on managing risk in the time of unexpected crisis: COVID & Innovation within Edinburgh’s Festivals

The COVID-19 pandemic imposed significant social and economic losses on festivals globally. Government imposed lockdowns prevented socialising and meant that events were cancelled, paused, or redeveloped into a virtual format. Event organisers turned to creative problem-solving and accelerated innovation to manage the crisis.

Edinburgh Napier academics – Prof. Jane Ali-Knight, Dr Gary Kerr, and Hannah Stewart MSc – have created a report in collaboration with Prof. Kirsten Holmes from Curtin University (Perth, Australia) examining the impacts of COVID-19 on festivals in eventful destinations and the response of festival managers to the ongoing pandemic, using the case study of Edinburgh’s Festivals.

First, the team reviewed policies and practices relevant to the safe opening of festivals and events up to the Autumn of 2021. Second, they used a mixed methods approach to collect a range of data between June 2021 to November 2021, including participant observation of events, and in-depth interviews with key Edinburgh Festival Directors, managers and city stakeholders to identify how they initially responded and continue to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The fieldwork data are supported by content analysis of key media narratives focusing on festival and event cancellation and post COVID-19 recovery.

Key Findings revealed that since March 2020, 10 out of 11 of Edinburgh’s major festivals have successfully delivered programming in a live or digital format; all participants reported having to restructure their organisations’ business and delivery models in response to COVID-19; festivals were forced to shift their primary funding avenues from a ticket sales and revenue-based focus to securing funding from sponsorship, donations and COVID-19 recovery support with several organisations trialled a digital ‘pay what you can’ model for access to online events, championing and maintaining financial accessibility in an economic crisis.

The research team used the data to develop a new framework (please see below) for industry partners to approach risk management within festivals and events. This new model provides a tactical response to unexpected crisis events, such as a global pandemic, acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and other unique disruptive scenarios beyond the sector’s control.

illustration of the framework developed by Ali-Night et al. The framework has 3 components: Respond, Reassess, Reimagine with a fourth component: Communication sitting in the middle, interlinking the other components

The framework consists of three components. The first one, response, refers to organisers first assessing the situation, then reacting to evolving customer needs and behaviours by offering new types of experiences, products, and services, and lastly, strategically planning the next steps to cope with high levels of uncertainty.

The model’s second element, resilience, describes the critical importance of business model innovation that can be done through establishing new partnerships, as well as adjusting and adapting business and delivery models and supply chains to manage risk in the long term.

Lastly, the reimaging component touches on dynamic recovery through the reviewing of organisational successes and areas for opportunity, the development of potential future scenarios and how they can be prepared for, as well as the building of flexible and dynamic strategies that are stress-tested against various scenarios.

The importance of effective communication and support between festival stakeholders in times of crisis is emphasised by the researchers, and it appears in the centre of the framework interlinking all elements.

To download the full report please click here.

Hosting a European colleague for a month: Alicia Orea-Giner’s eventful research stay at ENU

Alicia Orea-Giner – Associate Professor in Tourism at Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid – has recently spent a month at Edinburgh Napier University after being invited by Dr Louise Todd. The two academics have related research topics that focus on Sustainable Tourism, Events and Technology. Alicia told us about her research and experiences at Edinburgh Napier University.

I believe that technology is not an isolated element or a tool that only facilitates processes but rather a part of the environment. In addition, that technology should be analysed from the perspective of technology itself, with its human connection and the way it creates, manages, and promotes relationships between human beings and between human beings and technology. I am currently working on analysing the stakeholders’ perceptions about events, among other topics, and decided to contact Edinburgh Napier University because of its research impact and the themes covered by the Tourism Research Centre.

During this research stay at Edinburgh Napier, I have participated in different activities and felt part of the staff. The first week I took part in the CHME conference. I had the opportunity to attend numerous presentations and meet researchers from different parts of the world at various stages of their careers. It was also an exciting experience as it was my first face-to-face conference since 2019.

The VM&E seminar took place in my second week at Edinburgh Napier. This symposium broadened my knowledge of visual and ethnographic methods with excellent keynotes and work presentations based on these methodologies. It was a highly fruitful meeting and discussion point.

In the third week, as well as continuing to work on a future project with Dr Louise Todd, David Jarman and I were fortunate enough to present at the tourism group’s research seminars. My presentation focused on qualitative methodologies, specifically, virtual ethnography and big qualitative Data.

Finally, the last week I ran a seminar and workshop entitled Young in Academia and Mental Health: Publishing, Lecturing and Surviving. This talk explored what it is like being a young woman in academia: doing a PhD, publishing papers in top journals, lecturing (many hours a year), obtaining an academic post after finishing a PhD, and surviving, all at the same time.

During the weekends, I walked the streets of Edinburgh, enjoying what it has to offer, and I also visited the Highlands and other areas of Scotland. Activities such as these are important when your career revolves around tourism.

I want to thank the whole team for welcoming me and having me as part of the team. Being part of Edinburgh Napier for a few weeks has been a pleasure. I hope to be back in the future!

It was a great pleasure for the TRC to host such a respectable academic, and we hope to see Alicia again soon too.

Alicia Orea-Giner has a PhD in Tourism from Universidad de Alicante, Universidad de Málaga, Universidad de Sevilla and Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid; as well as a PhD in Geography from Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

If you too are an academic and interested in a research stay at Edinburgh Napier University, please email a.leask@napier.ac.uk.

VM&E (Visual Methods & Ethnography) Future Visualities Symposium draws leading interdisciplinary academics and maps agenda for future research

by Dr Ashleigh Logan-McFarlane

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Tourism and Marketing launched the Edinburgh Napier Visual Methods and Ethnography (VM&E) in Interdisciplinary Research Group with their first face-to-face symposium, ‘Future Visualities’, on 1st June 2022.

The sold-out event attracted more than 50 leading academics from UK and international institutions, including an array of established, mid and early career researchers and international PhD students from France and the Netherlands. ‘Future Visualities’ was financed by Edinburgh Napier Researcher Development Fund and sponsored by the Tourism Research Centre. The day featured 3 keynote presentations showcasing innovative interdisciplinary visual and ethnographic methods including: screencast videography, photography, poetry and (auto) ethnography, arts-based methodologies, visual representations, and mappings (ethnographic, archival, pedestrian and psychogeographic). The symposium showcased an array of visual methods and ethnography across 16 paper presentations and 7 posters, which demonstrated application of these methods in a variety of contexts, including linguistics, work, identity, education, leisure, law, touristic landscapes, semiotics, and the digital realm.

A panel discussion led by Dr Ashleigh Logan-McFarlane and Dr Kat Rezai on the challenges of publishing visual research featured keynote speakers Dr Fatema Kawaf, Dr Brett Lashua, Dr Terence Heng and our own Dr Louise Todd (VM&E Research Group Lead), who reflected on and outlined how to navigate the publishing process.

The launch of the Edinburgh Napier VM&E research group was a great success. Not only has it helped to establish new projects with external colleagues, but plans are underway for an edited publication on VM&E research. Watch this space for the call for contributions!

Link to VME Future Visualities Schedule and Book of Abstracts

 

a collage of pictures taken at the symposium, each showing a speaker showcasing their research on the topic

Dark tourism symposium attracts international interest, and the major authors in the discipline

by Dr Craig Wight

The Tourism Department (The Business School) and the School of Arts and Creative Industries hosted the first ever blended contact research symposium on dark tourism on Thursday 5th May.

Whilst the symposium steering group had modest ambitions in terms of the scale of the event, we we delighted to be joined by a host of delegates from nearby Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, but also a number of contributors that travelled some distance to be at the event, including Brianna Wyatt, Lindsay Steenberg and Simon McFadden from Oxford Brookes university, Tony Seaton, one of the two official ‘godfathers’ of dark tourism (along with John Lennon who presented), from Luton, and Philip Stone and Hannah Stewart from UCLAN. Jeff Podoshen from Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster Pennsylvania, USA even made the trip across the pond to be with us. The event attracted an audience of some 60 remote delegates from as far afield as Lithuania, the USA and Canada.

It was particularly pleasing that such a diverse range of researchers contributed to the event, from those considered to be the pioneers of dark tourism to its current leading authors, and some early career researchers and PhD students who are taking up the challenge of producing the next row of books in the library that focus on some of the contemporary research contexts that were explored, including tours, exhibitions, digitality and the the role of film and the big screen in dark tourism.

The event received some really positive feedback, and facilitated some new research collaborations on areas such as ‘drowned villages’ and supernatural tours.

Abstracts and recordings of the proceedings are available here https://www.napier.ac.uk/research-and-innovation/research-search/events/dark-tourism-research-symposium-memory-pilgrimage-and-the-digital-realm