An audit of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (WWCC) recently referenced data from the 2013 Convention Center Operating Expenses and Revenues Report published by VenueDataSource, the research department of the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM).
IAVM has closely evaluated the data cited, and has found it to be inaccurate and inconsistent with the actual material available in the original VenueDataSource report.
The findings in the final audit consistently reference average metrics for “large convention centers,” but this data was not presented in the report provided by VenueDataSource, and has led to a significant misuse of the actual report data. The VenueDataSource report included average revenue of $36.04 per TRSF, and average expenses of $37.15 per TRSF*—metrics generated from all surveyed convention centers. The variance in these participating venues is significant, with venue size (square footage), market, management structure, and numerous other criteria demanding careful consideration when applying metrics or attempting to draw conclusions.
Furthermore, any data in the audit referring specifically to Events DC or the WWCC was not sourced in any VenueDataSource report, as IAVM handles all survey data with complete confidentiality.
Frank Ingoglia, Research Manager with VenueDataSource, shared that the reported outcomes may require significant correction, and that had he been asked to review the material prior to publication, inconsistencies and misreported results could have been identified and avoided.
“VenueDataSource is managed very carefully to ensure that the metrics collected are meaningful, reliable, and contextually relevant. We pride ourselves on the integrity of our data, and it is counter-productive and misleading to see our report misused in this instance.”
IAVM has contacted the audit team and various reporters covering the story. An initial report published in the Washington Business Journal referenced the incorrect metrics, but a subsequent article posted after IAVM contacted the editor highlights the misused figures:
“The difference between the profitability of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and other large convention facilities in the U.S. may not be as stark as a D.C. Auditor’s report released earlier this week indicated. Convention center manager Events DC and the International Association of Venue Managers, whose report was cited in the D.C. audit, say the numbers compared in the report are incorrect.”
The Washington Post also included a mention of misused data from the IAVM report, and the audit team has notified IAVM that they are currently reviewing the issue internally.
“Our team works hard to make VenueDataSource a reliable tool for our members,” said Vicki Hawarden, CMP, IAVM president and CEO. “The integrity of the data shared remains a top priority, and we are glad to see the auditor and media acknowledge the importance of integrity in how the data is used as well.”
More information about VenueDataSource, or the report referenced in this story, can be obtained by contacting the research department at IAVM.
*TRSF = total rentable square foot
// UPDATE 11/2/15 //
The Office of the D.C Auditor, upon receiving IAVM’s clarification of metrics associated with the VenueDataSource report, has reviewed our concerns and notified us that they will:
1. Revise the audit report to correct comparison data.
2. Offer WWC/Events DC an opportunity to provide revised comments
3. Reissue the report, including an errata paragraph that references the initial release and the error in language around the comparison universe and including revised WWC/Events DC comments if provided.
4. Provide reissued copies to the D.C. Council under a cover letter to Chairman Phil Mendelson (the ODCA oversight chairman) and Finance and Revenue Committee Chairman Jack Evans explaining that this is a reissuance due to error in the initial report.
5. Notify reporters at The Washington Business Journal and The Washington Post about the reissuance and the error in the comparison universe.