When US events will return to pre-pandemic levels and which states are recovering the fastest: Leading Demand Indicators report for July 2021
The USA event economy is rebounding faster than many expected this time last year. Event volume across the USA is on track to soar past the halfway mark by late August, with event impact hitting 61% in August due to pent-up demand driving larger events.
PredictHQ tracks and verifies the world’s events across 19 categories. We’ve been publishing regular updates on the return of events across the USA, and shared the good news that big events are back with Recode in June - read about it here or listen to the summary on NPR here.
The return of big events at scale was great news. And it sparked a question we’ve been fielding from all over the country: how long until events return to normal? When can we expect the world to look and feel like before the pandemic, full of sports, concerts, conferences and community events?
It’s important to note that the spread of the delta variant across the USA and the return of restrictions such as mask wearing in Los Angeles indicates we may still be some ways away from entirely back to normal. But on current trends we’re seeing in our intelligent event data, we are about to cross a milestone. A milestone that is important for everyone from business owners to city leaders to front-of-house staff and Uber drivers, because demand and people movement is about to get a lot busier very quickly.
The USA will pass halfway recovered to pre-pandemic event volumes this quarter
Pre-pandemic, the USA had thousands of major-impact events every single week. In early 2020, that ground to a halt, only to begin to rebound in around March and April 2021.
Concerts, sports games, expos, festivals and state fairs began to return, as well as (albeit more slowly) conferences, large performing arts and community events. The recovery has only been accelerating since then.
As we dive into the data, there are many ways to think about events and their demand impact, but the simplest two are:
Event volume: how many events are being scheduled.
Event attendance volume: how many people will be attending the planned events. This is what we have used in the graph above, as this metric is particularly pertinent in 2021 because many events scheduled to happen in 2020 and early 2021 are now taking place in the second half of this year, causing unprecedented demand surges.
If we compare the second half of 2021 to the second half of 2019, here’s how events with more than 1,000 attendees across America are faring:
|Metric||August 2021 % recovered||September 2021 % recovered|
|Event attendance volume||61.5%||81%|
Throughout this report, we are focusing only on events with 1,000 or more attendees, as these have the biggest impact on demand for our customers and partners. Based on event volumes, the states leading the recovery i.e. their 2021 event volume is closest to their 2019 event volume are:
Event volume is exciting, but event attendance is the more accurate insight
However useful and exciting event volume is, the more meaningful insight is what’s happening with total event attendance i.e. how much people movement is being driven by events. Ten concerts of 30 people is a higher volume than one concert of 5,000 people, but the 5,000 concert will be more impactful. That’s why our API gives both an impact ranking, as well as predicted attendance for every event.
PredictHQ has a series of models that work together to identify an event’s predicted attendance, factoring in everything from historical attendance from similar events, venue capacity, popularity of an event and its performers in each location and more. It allows our customers to have a more accurate and reliable understanding of demand than relying on venue capacity for example.
Below is a graph that draws on these attendance figures to give the aggregate impact of all event attendance in the US before, during and after the height of the pandemic.
So how long until we return to pre-pandemic levels of events?
With several states already close to 100% of 2019 events, the return to normal seems tantalisingly reachable.
While the spread of the delta variant and the surging hospitalisations may require some management, if the current event recovery trends continue, the US is on track to reach 100% of its pre-pandemic event impact levels in early 2022.
Cities, states and businesses need to build plans on reliable, forecast-grade data to ensure their plans align with this recovery. For businesses, this can and should directly inform your staffing, inventory, pricing and marketing strategies.
The states bouncing back the fastest
We touched on the ten states scheduling the most events, but what’s more meaningful for demand planners, businesses and city leaders is understanding the impact of events i.e. how many people are going to show up.
The recovery race is well and truly underway. States and cities that opened up early tend to be further along in their recovery, with cities such as Orlando, Florida, enjoying an influx of larger events from slower-to-open states.
As of July 2021, the fastest recovering states based on predicted attendance at events in the second half of 2021 as a percentage of 2019, the state leaderboard looks a bit different:
Here is the recovery by predicted attendance at a state level for the USA:
Sports events recovery: fastest recovering US states
But event categories are recovering at different rates. For example, here are the fastest states bouncing back for sports:
Expo events recovery: fastest recovering US states
The return of expos is particularly impactful for cities as well as travel providers as these events drive significant interstate movement. Several of the states in the top five had a low volume of expos prior to the pandemic, such as Alaska and Rhode Island.
Concert events recovery: fastest recovering US states
Concerts are one of the most popular events in the USA and some of the most widely distributed.
With the impact of events past halfway recovered and the volume of events passing halfway in August, the USA’s journey back to 2019 event levels is soaring. Given it weathered almost 12 months of event rates well in the negative digits, this is surprising but very welcome news.
With events driving trillions in demand every year, the companies best positioned for a slingshot recovery are those that are tracking events and including these in their demand planning, forecasting and staffing strategies. Get in touch with our team for a free trial if you’re not yet.
It’s critical for companies factoring events into demand planning as a leading indicator, and for city and state leaders looking to build back stronger, to know how the situation differs state-by-state.
As the event recovery continues, demand anomalies for businesses that aren’t real-world aware will increase in both volume and severity. PredictHQ is supplying our customers with impactful events across the world, both verified and standardized, from 19 categories in one API.
To find out how leading companies such as Uber, Domino’s and major hotel chains are using this data, explore our use cases.
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