Understanding Attendees To Build A Better Festival. Case Study: Hawk Festivals

By Robin Jourdan, Contributor

Originally published 20 Jan 2019 (signalsfromthefuture.net).

This version has been edited to highlight input from MMX’s analysis platform. – Robin Jourdan

Early in September, I did a little research on the potential challenges facing the HMANA group (Hawk Migration Association of North America) and the Detroit River Hawkfest.

Designed to improve the education of birds of prey around the Detroit River, the Hawkfest is held every September at Lake Erie Metropark.

More about the Detroit River and other Michigan Hawkwatchs

Flock of sea hawks. Photo credit: Osprey composite courtesy of Detroitriverhawkwatch.org

Attendance at the event is declining. Competition from other local events likely has something to do with it, but let’s take a look.

Here’s what we aimed to find out:

  1. What are the typical expectations to attend a bird/nature festival?
  2. What is essential to an attendee at a festival?


First, we looked at the general expectations of attendees at nature festivals:

Based on this MMX visualization of a public internet search, we can see a lot of “miscellaneous” sources, but a high expectation of recreation, some home, arts, business, and sports. This visualization also shows us the supply of information available on the public web.

The visualization above shows the terms most often found together in publications. Consider it a sort of relational concepts map. This conveys a clear understanding of what one would experience or have as an option via bird/nature education.

In the chart above, we get a more specific understanding of expectations in the supply of information. These can be viewed as expectations of people vis-a-vis bird/nature festivals. At a minimum, this visualization confirms the types of content and events to schedule for a celebration.

In this visualization, thanks to the MMX values engine, we get a sense for why people are so moved to birds/nature and what values are specifically expressed through public festivals. “Why” is a valuable filter and often impossible to discern amid the volume of information to review. Another way of thinking of values depicted here is: what are the motivations people generally have for participating in and attending a bird/nature festival?

Next, let’s look at how and where people spend their money in categories related to bird/nature events in the US. The MMX tool can create a visualization showing the categories of goods people spend their money on. Think of this as the demand view for information, products, services and items like that.

Splitting this analysis out by age group, we can see that people 0-19 years old are interested in a similar breakout of spending options. This high-level view flags areas for us to investigate more thoroughly.

Next Steps

Develop plans to plug the gaps identified including deeper digging where needed. Priorities to address:

  1. Generate a list of ideas – innovations for 2019
  2. Partners (local/regional)
  3. What kinds of experiences can be supported?

Based on this list, you can see that there are some immediate next steps we can prioritize and act on. Next year’s event will be even better thanks to quick insights from the MMX analysis!

(1)https://www.allaboutbirds.org/birding-festivals/ (2)https://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/bwdsite/explore/festivals.php (3)Wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birdwatching
(4)HMANA conference, 2018; Romulus, MI
(5) shapingtomorrow.com