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James Du, Heather Kennedy, Jeffrey D. James and Daniel C. Funk

To combat the declining number of finishers plaguing the distance-running industry, it is increasingly important for organizers to optimize event satisfaction levels. Participants’ survey responses from two distance-running events (n 1 = 2,324 and n 2 = 2,526) were analyzed to challenge the traditional managerial scope and theoretical lens through which event satisfaction is conventionally examined. Results revealed five event benefits that capture key motivational antecedents of event satisfaction. Collectively, these benefits, including euphoric, fitness, competition, social, and entertainment benefits, influenced event satisfaction levels (R 2 = 43%) and repeat consumption intentions (R 2 = 23%). For event organizers to foster event satisfaction, it is central to encourage event preparation and participation that promotes the enjoyment of physical activity, fitness and appearance enhancement, socialization, competition, and excitement among registrants. Academics should also extend their scope of event satisfaction to fully capture the entirety of event experience lifecycles (e.g., from registration through event participation).

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Heather Kennedy, Bradley J. Baker, Jeremy S. Jordan and Daniel C. Funk

Market trends indicate the distance running event industry is facing a running recession. Since 2013, consumer demand has declined annually while supply increased. The current research provides insight into why running as a recreational activity is declining and implications for organized events’ utility. Based on seven years of participants’ postevent surveys from a long-distance running event, the value placed on hedonic, symbolic, and lifestyle features of running (i.e., running involvement) is gradually declining, which corresponds to a decline in annual event participation. Results are based on analyses of both a time series of cross-sections (N = 23,790) and a panel of multiyear respondents (n = 461). Also, there are gender differences in the rates at which running involvement declined. These results shed light onto a sociopsychographic explanation for the declining levels of running event participation and general interest in running.