(Tom Siciliano) - The U.S. economy isn't perfect, but unemployment remains at record lows, inflation is cooling, consumer spending remains strong, and wages are rising steadily, not rapidly.
While the media likes to report on the usual indicators, there's one statistic that's not reported enough – live events. Events like trade shows, concerts, sporting contests, weddings and business seminars are major factors driving the economy. The Deloitte Insights report this month noted "households continue to increase spending on pent-up demand for services such as entertainment and travel."
Statistics bear this out. To note:
· Theme park attendance in North America in 2023 was up 32% at the largest attractions annual report released by the Themed Entertainment Association.
· The Consumer Electronics Show 2023 in January in Las Vegas, a bellweather for the industry, reported 115,000+ attendees, 15% more than projected.
· Live Nation posted a monster quarter in Q1 of 2023, with a record $3.1 billion in revenue — up 73% from the same period last year — and a record 19.5 million fans attending its events. Their concerts have sold almost 90 million tickets this year, more than 20% ahead of last year.
· Major League Baseball attendance is up more than 4 percent compared to 2022. More than 70 percent of teams are enjoying an attendance increase. With school out, attendance numbers should rise even more for the summer.
· The events industry will grow to $1,552.9 billion by 2028, according to Allied Market Research, with a projected CAGR growth of 11.2% over the next seven years.
It's no secret that humans are social animals, and after being trapped during the pandemic, the urge to congregate and socialize has returned. But it's more than that. The experience, socially and technologically, has improved tremendously. More than just gourmet food, massive screens, superfast WiFi and more comfortable seating at football games like SoFi Stadium (a client of ours), fans are becoming more engaged.
As Forbes recently noted, "Fans' devices give them access to real-time information about player performance, allow them to share updates from the games on social media and give them a chance to connect with other fans ... At the World Cup, fans were able to leverage augmented reality to see real-time statistics for players on the field."
At the recent U.S. Open at the Los Angeles Country Club, opulent indoor and outdoor seating areas and structures, along with luxe food service and premium seating, made the experience feel more like a luxury hotel or resort rather than a crowded, sun-baked golf tournament with obstructed viewing.
As the CEO of California's largest event rental company with more than 1,000 employees creating and servicing more than 12,000 annual events, we've seen these trends coming for years. Event customization, sociable areas, technology, connectivity and creativity are still evolving and improving.
Surveys from trade groups show that today's consumers are more interested in an experience than a material item. People are looking to have a lifestyle where they are able to enjoy company with others and having fun with people they know and love after being trapped during the pandemic. Many in the live events industry believe trends of more live event attendance along with more customizable experiences will continue for years to come.
With the advent of 3-D printing for event structures, AR, VR and other technologies, some of these stadium experiences are filtering down to smaller events like birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries and reunions. It's hard to measure the impact of innovation and enjoyment, but if these industry trends continue, the live events business will remain strong for years to come.
Tom Siciliano is the CEO of Town & Country Event Rentals and Signature Party Rentals based in Southern California.