This story’s digest:

  • We analyzed the decline of events tourism in 2020

  • Data from more than 30 DMOs tell an amazing comeback story

  • Automated Events Calendar is the future of event promotion for destination marketing teams

People travel for events…always have, always will. Go ahead…take a look…I bet your event calendar is one of your top five most viewed web pages. 

The significant negative impact of the cancellation and postponement of events in 2020-21 isn’t just about economics. However, the economic impact of lost events due to COVID-19 is estimated in billions of dollars. The loss of event tourism is also a loss of the sense of community that people around the world celebrate. Cancellation of events, then, has impacted us all in ways that transcend economics. We’ve lost events that unite us and bring us closer together. In a time where we’ve been isolated and quarantined, that shouldn’t be underestimated. That is the reason why events, large and (mainly) small (to start), will lead the way back to normalcy when COVID-19, and related restrictions and impacts, begin to fade. 

Events help differentiate the tourism product of each destination. The ability to measure the decrease and increase in events during this period gives us a powerful perspective on the state of our industry.

Using real-time data from ITI Digital’s Digital Experience Platform, where the Daily Events are hosted, managed, and published, we were able to track the number and types of events pre-Covid and during the pandemic. This insight is another piece of the puzzle to help our DMOs understand the confidence level of their community. After all, events need to be supported by locals and visitors for them to be successful.

To understand the types of events we measured, we need to step back just a little and give a quick clarification on what the ITI Digital Events Calendar is all about. Our automated event calendar widget using APIs and other sources curates events from different platforms such as Facebook and Eventbrite – events that influence travel and fuel the economy. Example: a new restaurant, menu, cooking classes, live entertainment, a book signing at the local bookshop, or the area’s “Taste Of…”.

In short, events that inspire travel and enhance the guest experience.

Understanding the Data

1. There is a substantial increase in Daily Events – attended inside or outside. We see this trend with all our clients, regardless of the size of their destination. 

2. Restaurants, attractions, and shops understand the value of events to promote their businesses. We applaud them for adapting to the circumstances and keeping their brand top of mind by offering virtual events that were/are innovative and creative.

3. Here to stay? Virtual Events. Virtual Events are fun and easy ways for businesses to promote their brands and engage potential customers.

The April 2020 Slope

In February 2020, when COVID-19 was a worry but had not yet reached pandemic levels, ITI Digital clients displayed 794 events on their calendars. This number increased to more than 1,000 (1,066) in March 2020. March, as we all know, is when the situation dramatically changed. The impact on events was apparent, as the number of events in April decreased by 63 percent (to 394).

May saw a further decrease to 355 events, a drop of nearly 10 percent from April and a total drop of 67 percent from March’s peak.

The Comeback

June and July’s numbers (504 and 568, respectively) held steady at about half of March’s total. Late summer and early fall witnessed a bit of a rebound in events (up to a peak of 867 in October) before the winter wave gave back most of those gains (649 in January).

However, February 2021 saw a significant rebound to 959 events: a 48 percent increase over January’s figure and a 21 percent increase over February 2020. The numbers for March 2021 are pretty impressive. Our DMO client’s calendars combined displayed 1,169 events, the most during this period and an increase of nearly 10 percent over March 2020. The increase from May 2020, the month with the least number of events during the pandemic, was 229%.

What Did We Learn?

While the impacts of the pandemic will be felt for months to come, it looks like events are coming back impressively. The economic importance of events is obvious and significant, particularly for small businesses. But it is the societal impacts…the pride in our cities and towns, the celebration of local history and traditions, that will be most important when we can gather safely. Make no mistake…visitors are making travel plans. It’s a return to the era of the road trip, so make sure you are providing the most accurate and timely information about your local events.

Automate Your Calendar

Schedule a free digital consultation with ITI Digital to review automated content strategies and travel tools, including our Events Calendar DXP module. We will give you feedback on your website during the call, including suggestions that will improve your SEO and events calendar management. We will review new technology that will engage your target audiences, influence travel to your destination, and help your community grow through tourism development.

Reserve Online Meeting

Happy Clients.

“As a popular tourist destination with a wide array of events to offer our visitors, event calendar management had become a full-time job. With the help of the ITI Digital DXP calendar plugin on our website, has eliminated data entry errors, and most importantly, we now save time and money. My team as well as the businesses the Destination Marketing Corporation represents, love this website feature. It’s easy to install and ITI Digital’s customer service is timely and courteous. Highly recommended!”

Cassandra M. Harrington, Executive Director
Destination Marketing Corporation for Otsego County, NY. Serving both Otsego and Schoharie County Tourism Promotion.