The Ripple Effect: How Major Events Revitalise Local Economies

Liverpool – a city rich in culture, music, and history – hosted one of the grandest spectacles in the global entertainment scene earlier this year: the Eurovision Song Contest 2023. Far from being just another addition to the city’s vibrant events calendar, Eurovision became a prime example of the benefits of hosting major events,  a sentiment echoed in a recent BBC article.

According to research commissioned by Liverpool’s City Council, the event attracted over 300,000 visitors to the city, a number that surpassed even the most optimistic projections. Elsewhere, the education and community programmes (EuroStreet and EuroLearn) directly engaged with 50,000 people.

Clearly the enthusiasm for Eurovision was measurable not just in audience numbers or TV ratings, but also in its far-reaching economic benefits for Liverpool.

Boost to Local Businesses

This ripple effect means the benefits of hosting major events echo far beyond the venue and the live event itself.

Let’s start with the visitors. The influx of tourists to a city doesn’t just boost the coffers of event organisers; it trickles down to a myriad of local businesses. The direct beneficiaries are often the most visible aspects of the city’s economy—hotels, bars, restaurants, and shops.

In the case of Eurovision 2023, hotels were among the first to feel the surge. Occupancy rates surged during the month of the event as 175,000 city-centre hotel rooms were sold, representing the most successful month since 2018. And it’s not just the four-star and five-star establishments that benefited; Airbnb hosts and smaller bed-and-breakfast operations saw similarly increased bookings.

Bars and restaurants experienced unprecedented business during the Eurovision festivities. Rob Swift, the general manager of Maray restaurant on Albert Dock, reported “record sales” and said that business was “up a third on a usual week.” He elaborated, “It was easily the busiest week we have ever had [with] over 1,500 covers which is fantastic.” The sentiment was echoed by Vicky Gawith, founder of Merseymade, who said, “We had staffing levels of Christmas, we had footfall of Christmas and Saturday was the busiest day ever.”

Shopping districts like Liverpool ONE didn’t miss out on the Eurovision-fuelled bonanza. According to Liverpool City Council, Liverpool ONE saw a “32% growth in numbers compared to the same period last year – with some days seeing increases as high as 53%.” The council noted that more than 500,000 people visited the shopping centre in a single week, reporting it as “the busiest week of the year so far.”

Local transport services also saw an uptick in usage, in line with the “up to 500,000 extra visitors” that flocked to the city, as reported by Merseyside Police and Liverpool City Council.

Pedestrians along Bold Street in Liverpool

Investment in Public Infrastructure

When hosting major events like Eurovision, the limelight often shines on the immediate economic and cultural benefits, such as boosts in tourism and business. However, an overlooked yet important dimension is the lasting impact on public infrastructure, and the out-of-home advertising industry plays a vital role here. According to a recent report by Outsmart, the trade body for the UK OOH industry, just under half of the industry’s £411 million in advertising revenues for 2021 was allocated to public services, infrastructure, communities, and employees.

In hard numbers, this meant that OOH media owners invested £16 million in installing new public infrastructure and another £73 million in maintaining and upgrading existing sites, translating to 1,786 new installations that year. These installations go beyond advertising panels; they include amenities such as bus shelters, telephone booths, and even high-tech outdoor panels equipped with defibrillators, free WiFi and even device charging capabilities.

Local councils and public bodies also benefit significantly. In 2021 alone, the UK OOH industry paid £188 million in business rates, public rent, and revenue share to these entities. Beyond financials, the report estimated that the industry contributed a staggering £1.1 billion to public infrastructure between 2008 and 2021, signifying a long-term investment that has “outpaced growth in OOH industry revenue,” according to Outsmart and PwC. Moreover, these investments are increasingly sustainable, with several major OOH companies switching to 100% renewable energy consumption.

It’s clear that the influence of major events on a city doesn’t end when the stage lights dim. Through their partnerships with OOH advertising companies, cities can experience far-reaching benefits that impact their public infrastructure and community services for years to come.

OOH’s Unique Contribution

Hosting major events like Eurovision isn’t just about the glitz and glamour; it’s also about shaping the atmosphere of the city for both residents and visitors. Outdoor out-of-home advertising plays an unsung yet pivotal role in achieving this. With its far-reaching impact, OOH advertising serves as a canvas for cultural expression, creating a festive atmosphere that enhances the overall event experience.

According to Outsmart, the leading trade body for the OOH industry, Out of Home advertising reaches 98% of the UK population at least once a week. From commuters and business people to students and parents, OOH advertising is pervasive and inclusive. More impressively, it’s particularly effective at captivating young, urban, affluent consumers—one of the key demographics that events like Eurovision aim to attract. These consumers are digitally connected, socially active, and more likely to take action after seeing an OOH ad. In fact, they spend an average of 3 hours and 10 minutes in public places every day—a 25% increase compared to a decade ago. Academic studies suggest that people on the move are in an ‘ultra-absorbent’ state of mind, making them more receptive to messages and information.

This state of high receptivity is the fertile ground that OOH advertising capitalises on, directing tourist footfall towards attractions, restaurants, and local businesses. It’s not just about making an immediate impact; it’s about creating lasting impressions that get talked about, shared on social media, and, ultimately, remembered.

Case Study – Eurovision & Bay Media

For the Eurovision 2023 campaign in Liverpool, the local council made use of Bay Media’s lamppost banner advertising format, for which we are the exclusive provider in the city. A total of 89 strategically placed banners were installed along high-traffic streets such as Renshaw Street, famous for its eclectic mix of shops and bars; Hardman Street, a hot spot for foodies and nightlife; and along the Strand, a key waterfront route connecting the city’s historic docks and attractions.

These banners complemented the other out-of-home advertising formats which were installed in the city for the event, and ultimately succeeded in generating a palpable, city-wide buzz in the run-up to the event. Reminding both locals and tourists of the upcoming Eurovision spectacle, Bay Media effectively utilised OOH advertising to contribute to the electric atmosphere that makes such events memorable.

A Lasting Impact

The benefits of hosting major events like Eurovision ripple far beyond the immediate spectacle, serving as a catalyst for economic revitalization. Such events infuse local economies with both immediate financial gains and enduring vibrancy. From the hospitality industry to retail sectors, businesses experience a surge in activity, while the city itself emerges as a global focal point—effects that continue to reverberate long after the curtain falls.

Within this ecosystem, Out-of-Home (OOH) advertising assumes a subtle yet significant role. It leverages the emotional power of visual storytelling to amplify the event’s atmosphere and maintain its prominence among locals and tourists alike. Beyond the obvious economic advantages, these events also foster community engagement and invigorate public infrastructure, creating a multifaceted impact that enriches the city in both the short and long term.

Bay Media are a leading outdoor advertising company operating across the UK and Europe. We specialise in lamppost banner advertising – the UK’s largest provider in this format. In addition, we feature backlit roadside posters and high-end billboards in shopping centres.

Get in touch to discover how we can elevate major events through impactful outdoor advertising solutions.