Albuquerque’s largest tourism event leverages integrated issue management

Challenge: During the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta’s nine-day event, hot air balloons are the focus, but cultural cuisine from local food vendors is a staple attraction. In April 2012 Balloon Fiesta hired Ovations, an outside food concession management team to streamline the concessionaire process, improve guest experience and oversee a more strict food safety program.  The responsibilities were previously handled internally. Three months before the event launched, local concessionaires protested the new management team and engaged media in an attempt to return things to the way they have been for previous events.

Solution: The Garrity group met with Balloon Fiesta and Ovations staff to collect background data, and audited media stories to gain perspective on how the community and media viewed the issue. Based on these findings, our team developed strategic objectives to address the most prevalent issues and misunderstandings about the new concessions process.

Results: To alleviate confusion, The Garrity Group created a custom webpage with FAQs about the new concessions program. The page received 550 views and served as a central fact source. Through dedicated vendor relations, The Garrity Group helped Ovations and Balloon Fiesta retain 21 local vendors on concession row. Engaging local media, our team secured 35 proactive engagements and interviews on behalf of Balloon Fiesta, flooding the market with accurate information and setting the story straight.