Facilities planning and management for the large-scale event industry with a particular reference to a typical mega-event, the Hajj (the pilgrimage to Makkah, Saudi Arabia)
The large-scale event industry is an ever growing and profitable business, and it is important to the economy of the host country. Based on the proposition that the determinants of an event's success are the quality of (1) its programme, and (2) the facilities and services available for such an event, this study explores the importance of the facilities and services required within venues for large-scale events with respect to the actual users' perceptions. This area has been neglected in the related literature and research. The current research will contribute to the overall knowledge concerning the large-scale event industry, improve the future practices of such an industry, and facilitate further research in this area. The Hajj, i.e. the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah and the Holy Places, Saudi Arabia, is a typical mega-event, and it was used as a vehicle to meet the research objectives. Mega-events involve a large number of diverse population who come from different parts of the world. With regard to this factor a quantitative research approach was employed to collect and analyse the research data, and an exclusive tool (i.e. a questionnaire) to measure the participants' perceptions concerning the importance of facilities and services was constructed. From the results, five indexes were developed to comprise the various aspects and types of facilities and services required within the different Hajj venues. It is found that the types of facilities and services required in a particular venue correlates to the programme taking place in that venue. It is revealed that security and safety are perceived by participants as being a highly important factor required during mega-events. Other facilities and services are also of concern to participants as detailed in the research. It is concluded that both physical (e.g. buildings), and non physical aspects of facilities and services (e.g. appropriate treatment of participants), and the interactions between them, are important, and ought to be considered in further research, as well as in the practices of the large-scale event industry. Six factors are found to have a clear and dominant effect on the participants' perceptions regarding the importance of facilities and services. The factors concern: nationality; verbal communication; participants' age; travelling experience; training and orientation; and resident and non-resident of the host country. The proposition concerning the two determinants of an event's success is supported by the research's findings, and it is argued that beside the programme quality, the success of a mega-event depends mainly on the availability, accessibility, affordability, and presentability of facilities and services. It is revealed that the event industry involves various aspects, including: people; places; environment; processes; and business activities. The most commonly used approaches in managing events do not incorporate these aspects totally. Because the managing of such aspects and the interactions between them is the essence of the facilities management approach, this study proposes that facilities management should be employed in the megaevent industry, and further research is therefore required to assess the performance of facilities management in that area.