Understanding PredictHQ Demand Surges + how to use them

Every week, PredictHQ publishes a handful of Demand Surge Alerts on our blog and social media channels. These provide a summary of clusters of events that are five times larger than the usual event activity a city sees. These cause huge demand surges for businesses prepared to make the most of them.

blog image - demand surge alert new york city

This is just one rendering of a demand surge and its impact. Designed to be as accessible as possible, it doesn’t detail out the ~100 events that make up the rest of the “impactful events across three days”, nor show them all on the map.

Two other ways to think about demand surges:

  1. A demand surge is when the total volume of people attending these events is more than five standard deviations above the city’s three-month average of event attendance.

  2. Another way to think about demand surges is the impact a large cluster events has on driving up demand. We’ve included a graph of several demand surges below for a coffee store in a major US city. The pink line represents demand (adjusted, more details below) and the green line is attendance at relevant events. This is less immediately accessible than the Demand Surge graphic, so let’s unpack it.


We work with our customers to ensure they are tapping into all available event-driven demand, and use an automated correlation engine. The above graph is the output of such an analysis, for one store.

The demand (green line) has been adjusted for cyclical demand impacts (seasonal, weekly) and this is the remainder. As you can see, there are significant spikes due to clusters of events, including very substantial demand surges in late Summer and into Fall. This helped the coffee store know exactly which events drove material changes in demand for their stores, so they could be ready. For some of these spikes, inventory could remain unchanged but they increased their staffing for every visible surge above, as rapid and welcoming service was critical for this store, which was surrounded by competitors.

How to prepare for demand surges

The customer above uses demand surge info for staffing, but there are many ways companies use information about events to prepare, such as:

  • Many retail and especially quick service food retailers update their staffing to meet demand and ensure surges in footfall traffic don’t result in long lines and lost customers.

  • Retailers including grocery and drugstores increase their inventory to ensure they don’t run out but also to enable marketing or promotional campaigns to turn more of the footfall surge into purchases.

  • Rideshare and mobility companies update their predictions and alert their drivers or inventory managers to be nearby when key events end to snap up market share and ensure short wait times.

  • Accommodation companies update prices and/or launch targeted marketing campaigns to snap up available demand.

  • Platform companies update their algorithms and alert their users of these incoming demand surges.

  • DMO and location intelligence companies inform their partners and track their influence particularly closely as they deepen the intelligence destinations can expect.

There’s a lot you can do with demand surges. Here are the three steps to make the most of them. Want more support or access to the full set of information so you can pinpoint incoming demand impact better? You can access our verified event data for free for 14 days here or get in touch.

Step 1: Discover your most relevant events 

Almost every business is impacted by events, so the first step is identifying which ones impact your business the most. Most companies will start with a couple of event categories that they know impact them, such as:

  • Sports

  • Expos

  • Concerts

  • School holidays

  • Academic dates

If you’re not ready to start exploring event data in depth, you can find previous demand surges for cities you operate in and analyze your data at each location during those periods of heightened event activity near your locations. Because these list the largest events, it can be useful once you find the location of each and assess proximity to your locations(our event data has locations/venues/lat-longs to bypass this manual searching step).

If you are in an industry where competitor performance and industry-aggregate demand are available, such as accommodation, make sure you analyze this as well. Our major hotel customers discovered a lot they were missing out on by analyzing industry demand patterns. For example, one discovered they were owning concert-driven demand but significant surges from nearby expos were being enjoyed mostly by a competitor (something they could then remedy once they knew about upcoming expos and events!).

Step 2: Ready your models or teams with clear rules to respond to similar future demand surges (and impactful events)

Whether you’re using only the demand surges we flag, or using the full set of event data to identify your own, or even responding to individual or smaller clusters of impactful events, you can build a better understanding of demand and create clear response plans around levels of event activity.

For example, a cluster of events like the demand surge in San Francisco below impacted restaurants, stores and accommodation facilities near these events so your locations in the financial district would be far more likely to be impacted more than those further from the action.

Demand Surge alert: San Francisco Feb 2022

PredictHQ data not only has a precise and verified location for each event, our machine learning models also accurately predict the attendance of events. This makes it possible to search for relevant types of events, with the volume of attendees that have impact for your operations in the vicinity of your locations.

This means either your teams or your ML models can have data-driven plans to make the most of major increases in footfall, and surges in demand that event clusters cause. Some examples of how our customers use these demand surges:

  • A demand planning software for convenience and grocery stores factors events into their predictions of footfall and demand for every half hour. For major demand surges, they also display alert banners within their platform so these stores can seize the opportunity while ensuring they have enough inventory to meet demand and generate more with front-of-store sales or discount offers. Whether they’re selling movie festival snacks or sports paraphernalia or getting their wet weather gear out and priced right, knowing about major demand surges means they can have a great sales and customer satisfaction day, rather than just a busy one.

  • A major hotel group updates their pricing and packaging to offer incentives for staying multiple nights (aligned with event clusters that included expos or conferences) so they can both attract more customers and yield more, as well as reallocating some of their inventory from major booking marketplaces as increased demand enables them to keep more of the fee.

  • A national QSR chain that prides itself on reliability and quick service ensures it has enough staff rostered and its inventory ready to meet demand, especially for menu options that rely on more perishable items that they are more hesitant to overstock. Given its stores tend to be in highly competitive, highly trafficked locations, keeping lines short and customer loyalty high is key.

Step 3: Prepare for upcoming demand surges - both major ones and those specific to you

If you are just using the Demand Surge posts to scale up your staffing, inventory or pricing, welcome to your demand intelligence journey! Get the most relevant events and demand surges for your business by getting in touch so we can set you up with a free trial or access to all the events in the cities you need.

This will enable you to be alerted not just about major clusters of events, but also relevant events that drive demand you will otherwise be missing out on.  Whether you ingest our API directly into your machine learning models, set up alerts for clusters of events or particular kinds of events, or use our search functionality to create lists or calendars for your team, making your strategies real world aware uncovers efficiencies and savings.