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Kristina Tipton

Director, Market Research at Near

3 mins read

What a major event in Australia reveals about the future of events

Events are poised to come back in a big way in Australia. After reopening to international travellers earlier this year, Sydney and other Australian cities have seen strong recovery in event attendance. On the business event side, the International Convention Centre in Sydney recently reported that the venue was on track to deliver pre-Covid visitor levels for the year. And on the entertainment event side, Vivid Sydney’s return in May through June 2022 marked a major milestone towards recovery.

Vivid Sydney’s return after a 2-year hiatus smashed records with 2.58 million attendees, a 7.5% increase from 2019. Near looked at human movement data to learn:

Near Research explored patterns in the Sydney CBD and surrounding areas for May-June of 2022 compared to 2019 to understand how event-going behaviours have changed from pre-pandemic.

Here are a few of the emerging trends:

Cold weather didn’t deter visitors, but it did impact how long they spent outside

2022 saw unusually cold weather, with Sydney hitting the lowest temperatures it’s seen in 33 years. While these temperatures didn’t seem to deter event goers, with record-breaking attendance records, it did seem to impact how long attendees spent at Vivid.  

Average dwell times at the event dropped from 37 minutes in 2019 to 31 minutes in 2022. Additionally, across 2019 and 2022, days with warmer temperatures positively correlated with longer dwell times.  

Lower temperatures & Shorter Dwell Times in 2022

People travelled further to attend the event

In 2022, Vivid Sydney drew people from greater median distance, indicating residents of the greater Sydney area were willing to travel a bit more versus in 2019. In 2022, the median distance travelled to Vivid was 17.8km, compared to 14.3km in 2019.

In 2019, the top neighborhoods where people came from outside of the Sydney CBD were all in the hip Inner West neighbourhoods, including Pyrmont, Waterloo and Potts Point. In 2022 those top neighbourhoods were spread over a much wider region of Sydney to include Willoughby, Mosman, Lane Cove and others.

Vivid Sydney: Top 5 neighbourhoods where people came from
Meanwhile, visitors travelling internationally to Vivid decreased from 9% in 2019 to just 1% in 2022.

Event attendees more likely to get dinner vs. drinks in 2022

Among Vivid attendees going out in Sydney CBD before or after the event, a growing share of them preferred to go out to dinner versus drinks in 2022. The share of attendees going to restaurants before or after the event jumped from 59% in 2019 to 74% in 2022.

This is likely influenced by both the colder weather, driving people indoors for longer periods, and by people coming from further away and wanting to go all out on their night out. Typical Sydney CBD restaurant tabs can be 3-4 times more per person than bar tabs, with restaurant tabs often coming in around $50-200 per person.

What this means for the future of events

Vivid Sydney shows that many people are eager to get out to events again, especially those that are buzzworthy and well-established like Vivid Sydney is. It probably also helped that Vivid Sydney is an outdoor event, where people may be more comfortable being in a crowd. To adapt to the new normal, event organisers should consider the following:

  1. Aim to attract people from a wider geographic area, as people are enthusiastic to get back to events.
  2. Outdoor events should prepare for weather if possible – heat lamps & warm beverages or fans & cold beverages – to ensure attendees’ comfort
  3. Partner with restaurants near the event to offer deals or promote special offerings for event attendees

To read more insights, download the full report on The Return of Events in Australia.

Methodology

Vivid Sydney shows that many people are eager to get out to events again, especially those that are buzzworthy and well-established like Vivid Sydney is. It probably also helped that Vivid Sydney is an outdoor event, where people may be more comfortable being in a crowd. To adapt to the new normal, event organisers should consider the following:

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