The impact of the corona crisis on the event sector was significant. That is what the impact surveys showed by the research centre Public Impact at KdG University of Applied Sciences and Arts. But what about the demand for events post corona? In December 2022, the KdG research centre conducted a large-scale audience survey of a representative sample of 1,000 adult Belgians. And what did it reveal? Belgians still love their events. However, they are planning their visits like never before. Over 50% also consider safety when they go to an event, where only 30% consider the impact of their visit on the environment and climate. Regardless, there is confidence in a positive 2023. For instance, the majority feels that there are enough events and meeting opportunities in their city. And this is needed more than ever. Because even in 2022, the year when everything was reopened and allowed again, 48% of Belgians still felt (sometimes) isolated.
The Belgian loves events
In 2022, 79% of the Belgians visited events in their leisure time. Among 80% of these visitors, events where tasting and consuming are central, such as a fair or food truck festival, were particularly popular. In 2022, 67% (also) opted for arts or cultural events such as a theatre performance or light show. And 50% attended (often several) music festivals, where 69% chose other types of music or dance events such as a concert or party. Barely half enjoyed attending sports events, and even 41% actively participated in them. What also typifies half of Belgian event visitors is their preference for parades and processions. It is also striking that 51% chose to visit events in their free time where knowledge, information and/or networking is central, such as a fair or lecture.
The Belgian remains an avid planner
That we like to inform ourselves extensively about the event well in advance and prefer not to be taken by surprise, is something the KdG research centre learned during their research on visitor profiles before the corona crisis. This profile research showed that in 2019, 26% of the event visitors in Flanders are mainly Planners. In 2022, nationally, even 29% of the Belgians like to plan their trip in advance and 22% prefer to go to events with others they know well. The latter is typical of the second largest group of visitors in our country. Cocooners mainly look for security and safety in the group, which gives them confidence at events. Only a minority of the Belgians are mainly looking for content enrichment (13%) or new experiences (11%) at events, which is typical of the Diggers and the Adventurers respectively.
More cautious since corona crisis
"Although 8% more Belgians in 2022 attended events in their leisure time than in 2019, we also learn that 45% of these visitors go to events less often than before the corona crisis. And this is so across all age groups," stresses researcher Yves Van Handenhove. "It is also striking that 37% of the visitors order their event tickets less far in advance than before the corona crisis. This trend of caution is also reflected in the security figures. 52% of these Belgians are concerned about their safety when going to an event. And especially when it comes to the safety aspect of 'undesirable behaviour', 77% consider it important that the organiser takes measures to counter things like intimidation or unwanted touching. Of the 21% of Belgians who did not attend any events in 2022, 13% give as reason that they simply do not feel safe at events. For 2023, 67% of the Belgian visitors say they would like to attend events again. But 33% are hesitant. Of these, even 15% say they definitely do not want to go."
More conscious since energy and climate crisis
Apart from the need for planning, security and safety, the impact on the environment and climate is also something that 30% of the Belgians today consider when attending an event. 66% even consider it important that the organiser makes concrete efforts to minimise this impact. Only 36% of the visitors agree that what they themselves do or do not do at an event has little influence on its impact on the environment and climate. Moreover, 32% have no problem if only vegetarian or vegan snacks or dishes are offered at an event. Yet 41% of the event visitors in Belgium will still choose a snack or dish with meat at an event, if they have the choice.
Confidence in a positive 2023
With an average score of 6.3 out of 10, Belgians say they have some confidence in a positive future for themselves in the coming year. The Dutch-speaking Belgian is slightly more positive in this respect than the French-speaking Belgian. Another positive point is that 71% of the Belgians think it is nice living in their city. The Dutch-speaking Belgian is even more satisfied than the French-speaking: 77% versus 64%. Here, the presence of events probably plays a big role. 61% of the Dutch-speaking Belgians and 47% of the French-speaking Belgians think that enough events are organised in their city. What is striking, however, is that barely 51% of the Belgians think that enough activities are organised in their city where they can actually meet others. Yet this is important, as 48% of the Belgians feel (sometimes) isolated and 67% find their social contacts (sometimes) superficial.