51 EVENT STUDIES – Contributions by Judith Mair
My research interests span several different dimensions of the tourism industry, including post-disaster recovery for tourist destinations, but my particular passion is in event studies and I have established my track record to become a leading researcher in this field.
My PhD examined the decision-making process for attending association conferences, and I was initially motivated by my interest in the increase in video-calls and the technological improvements that meant business meetings no longer had to be held face-to-face. This led me to wonder whether conferences would survive the impact of technology – was there something about attending a conference in person that made it worthwhile, when the ‘business’ side of conferences (listening to keynotes and presenting papers etc.) could be done either via pre-recording or some kind of video-link? As it turns out, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and the latest technology, we all know very well how easily conferences can go online, yet we also recognise that we are missing something by not meeting up in person. Probably because, as my research showed in the mid-2000’s and still shows today, networking is what we value most about attending conferences and this is just much harder to achieve virtually. The main publication from my PhD (Mair & Thompson, 2009) is still one of my most highly-cited papers and presents one of the first studies of the process of attendance decision-making in the association conference context. It highlights the key factors that potential attendees take into account when thinking about whether or not to attend a conference – networking, personal/professional development, cost, location, time & convenience, and health & wellbeing. My research (Mair 2014) was also showcased in a monograph on this topic – Conferences and conventions: a research perspective, published by Routledge.
My research still focuses very much on the benefits of events and festivals of all kinds, but I have expanded my interest to centre on the sustainability aspects of events – how can we make events themselves more environmentally sustainable, and how can we best understand the positive social impacts that events can have on attendees and on the local communities that host them? My passion is in finding ways to enhance the benefits of events and festivals, and at the same time find ways to mitigate or minimise the negatives. This stream of research has led to multiple publications, a leading research monograph (Festival encounters – theoretical perspectives published by Routledge: Duffy & Mair, 2017) and was the main reason I was invited by Routledge as sole Editor of their Handbook of Festivals (Mair, 2018).
The best thing about being an academic for me is that I get to work with many fabulous women. Some have been mentors, others peers, and now I am able to be a mentor for junior up-and-coming colleagues, which is very important to me. My collaborations with Michelle Duffy, Leonie Lockstone-Binney, Kirsten Holmes and Jennifer Laing in particular are a source of inspiration to me and have helped me to become the researcher that I am today.
Written by Judith Mair, University of Queensland, Australia
Read Judith’s letter to future generations of tourism researchers
Mair, J (2014). Conferences and Conventions: A Research Perspective. London: Routledge
Mair, J., & Thompson, K. (2009). The UK association conference attendance decision-making process. Tourism Management, 30(3), 400-409.
Duffy, M. & Mair, J. (2017). Festival Encounters: Theoretical perspectives. London: Routledge
Mair, J. (2018). The Routledge Handbook of Festivals. London: Routledge.