Does loyalty pay? First-time versus repeat visitors at a national arts festival
The aim of this research is to segment visitors to one of South Africa’s biggest arts festivals based on the frequency of visits in order to distinguish between fi rst-time and repeat festival attendees. Both first-time and repeat visitor groups play a fundamental role in the overall well-being and success of a festival, and festival organisers must strive to achieve a balance between first-time and repeat visitors. Festival managers should therefore be aware of the festival attributes that differentiate between the first-time visitor group and repeat visitors attending the festival. These differences include socio-demographics, behavioural characteristics, destination perception, perceived value and travel motivations. This article therefore compares first-time and repeat visitors to the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival based on these categories. A questionnaire survey (N = 555) was conducted at the festival, and the findings indicate that there are significant differences between first-time and repeat visitors at the festival. First-time visitors spend a significant amount of money during the festival and are mainly motivated by Relaxation and socialisation and Festival shows/productions ,while repeat visitors are loyal visitors who stay longer and spend more money, especially on tickets supporting the festival’s shows/productions. Results reveal that both first-time and repeat visitor groups are important for the long-term sustainability of the festival. This method of segmentation has proved to be successful and is used as the basis for proposing managerial and marketing implications for the festival organisers.