Halloween is a widely-celebrated event across Europe and in the USA, not just for children, but also for retailers, and tourism offices. Data Appeal and PredictHQ teamed up once again to investigate this holiday’s tourism impact on two Halloween hotspots. Derry, home to Europe’s largest Halloween festival, and Salem, the infamous city of witches in Massachusetts, USA.
For both cities, we will cover:
Predicted event spend
Hotel prices and bookings trends
Preferred hotels and restaurants
Are you ready to witch into some spooky statistics with us?
Derry Halloween: Northern Ireland is ready to welcome 100,000 ghost fans
According to recent studies, Halloween spending continues to rise in 2023, with an estimated total of £777 million, marking a 13% increase from the previous year.
The UK boasts numerous cities known for their Halloween parades and celebrations, such as Edinburgh, London, Manchester, and York. However, Derry is undoubtedly the most popular.
From 28th to 31st of October, Derry, in Northern Ireland, promises a Halloween like no other.
For four magical nights, Derry transforms itself into an enchanting realm where “the worlds of past and present collide to bring a dazzling street celebration of all things spooky.”
Illumination, aerial performance, pyrotechnics and music will enlighten the ancient streets of the city.
The Halloween program features all sorts of entertaining events, spanning from the Awakening the Walled City Trail, a magical journey through the City of Bones with a host of peculiar and unique characters, to a Harvest Market and culminating in a spectacular fireworks display.
From a tourism perspective, this event is set to generate significant buzz for local retailers and operators.
To better understand the tourism trends around this event, and its economic and cultural impact, we analysed every aspect of the visitors’ journey thoroughly through D / AI Destinations, Data Appeal’s all-in-one digital platform for destination management and marketing. We then integrated this with proprietary data from PredictHQ, one of the leading global event data and intelligence organisations. This comprehensive approach allowed us to gain a full view of the Halloween situation in both cities.
How many visitors are expected to visit Derry during the festival?
The first step to comprehending Halloween’s impact on the tourism industry, and leveraging events as a valuable destination marketing asset, is to gauge the estimated turnout.
The estimated overall spending over the four days, calculated using PredictHQ’s proprietary Predicted Event Spend, enriched by local economic indicators and partner data, will be approximately $10,570,010 between accommodation, transportation and dining.
The busiest and most expensive nights are expected to be the first and last
Bookings on the OTAs report a sold-out Halloween night (31 October) with rates for a double room soaring over £200, making a twofold increase when compared to the previous week’s rates (as of 31 September).
On Saturday night, 28 October the numbers are already impressive, with OTA saturation over 70% and an average rate of £197. This means that the vast majority of travellers will visit the city over the weekend or on Halloween night itself, perhaps moving from neighbouring cities.
Luxury accommodation (almost) always takes the prize
To understand the type and travel preferences of tourists, we analysed the hotels with the highest online reputation in the city centre over the past six months.
The top-ranked hotel is a marvellous, historical boutique hotel, which boasts a Sentiment Score of nearly 94/100 and a substantial above-average rate.
It is followed by a 3-star hotel and a 4-star hotel, both representing a comparable average price of £166.
Bishop’s Gate Hotel Derry (Luxury Boutique hotel): Sentiment Score 93.6/100 – Average Rate 219 £
Holiday Inn Express Derry (3 stars): Sentiment Score 84.7/100 – Average rate 166 £
Maldron Hotel Derry (4 stars): Sentiment Score 82.9/100 – Average rate 167 £
Our proprietary Sentiment Score index collects reviews and comments from over 130 review and social channels, and normalises them to return a single, concise and reliable result.
Visitors choose restaurants with an ample choice of beer
Beer is woven into the fabric of Northern Ireland’s tourist offer. And this is clearly reflected in the analysis of the most-appreciated restaurants by visitors.
Delving into the reviews, analysed through our it’s clear that beer is one of the most-discussed, and most-appreciated topics, that our proprietary semantic analysis of reviews sees beer as one of the most discussed and appreciated topics.
Among the restaurants serving local cuisine, those boasting a higher number of reviews and a higher Sentiment Score, two establishments with excellent beer stand out:
Browns Bonds Hill (recommended by Michelin) – Sentiment Score 92.9/100
Badgers Bar And Restaurant – Sentiment Score 92.3/100
Walled City Brewery – Sentiment Score 91.5/100
Halloween in Salem: the one-month-long Haunted Happenings Festival
Across the pond, Halloween has a strong economic impact in the United States. In 2023, U.S. consumers planned to spend over $12 billion on Halloween-related items.
Moreover, the travel sector is heavily impacted by the infamous spooky holiday.
A survey conducted on 1,600 Americans by ValuePenguin revealed that 4 in 10 Americans love to travel for Halloween, and the most-popular destinations for celebrating the spookiest night of all are Salem, MA (21%), Sleepy Hollow, New York (20%), and New Orleans, LA (20%).
Salem is no ordinary town: its history is inextricably linked to that of the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692, when a sudden group frenzy led a special court to convict and hang 19 men and women for witchcraft.
The trials and the fascinating world of the occult put Salem on the map as the undisputed Halloween capital of the United States.
First organised in 1982, the Haunted Happenings Festival includes hundreds of special events, tours, parties, haunted houses, meetings with fortune tellers, visits to witchcraft museums, and other themed attractions.
While the festival was initially concentrated on the Halloween weekend alone, due to its success, the local DMO (Destination Management Organisation) has decided to turn it into a series of events running throughout the month of October.
But what’s the real impact of the event on the local economy and tourist offer? To answer this question, we, once again, used insights of PredictHQ and the territorial analysis of D / AI Destinations.
Will 2023 be a record year for the Witch City?
According to the local DMO, the turnout for the 2022 edition of the festival broke records, falling just short of an impressive one million attendees.
What can we expect this year?
According to PredictHQ, Salem Haunted Happenings is predicted to bring 500,000 people to Salem this October, who are set to spend $39,608,846 on local accommodation, transportation, and restaurants:
Average accommodation rates in October surpass $700
Considering the numbers already registered at the end of September, transforming the weekend festival into a monthly celebration turned out tobe a clever trick.
Average rates, along with the rising bookings, reach $715 per night in October
In November, the average rate returns to $250 per night for a double room
Tourists choose 3-star hotels but spending threshold remains high
To understand which hotels are the most chosen by tourists, we looked at the Sentiment Score, i.e. the perception expressed online by all customers over the past six months.
The hospitality industry records a notable increase in Sentiment Score compared to last year, standing at 86/100 (+1.7): a gap that grew especially in September, which recorded 88.5/100 vs. 85.6/100 in 2022.
Among the top five hotels with the highest number of reviews in the last six months, the Salem Inn recorded the highest Sentiment despite the average rates being more than twice as high as the second and third ranked hotels.
1. The Salem Inn (Historical 3-Star Residence): Sentiment Score 91.7/100 – Average rate 457 $
2. Hawthorne Hotel (Historical 3-Star Luxury Residence): Sentiment Score 90/100 – Average rate 189 $
3. Hampton Inn Salem Boston (3-Star Hotel): Sentiment Score 88/100 – Average rate 171 $
Seafood delights and trendy hotspots
Sentiment Score analysis over the last 6 months reveals that, even in food, visitors in Salem prefer high-end cuisine and fresh fish, making the most of the local seafood along the New England coast.
The top restaurants among Salem visitors, for both the number of reviews and Sentiment Score, are:
Turner’s Seafood At Lyceum Hall: An authentic New England seafood restaurant: Sentiment Score 93/100
Finz seafood & grill: An innovative sushi bar: Sentiment Score 89/100
Tourist attractions: the Salem Witch Museum fails to bewitch its visitors
Unsurprisingly, Salem boasts its own museum dedicated to witches and witchcraft — The Salem Witch Museum.
However, what comes at a surprise is the attraction’s Sentiment Score — stands at 66/100, a result that’s passable at best, as our analysis of the most reviewed attractions in the city shows.
On the other hand, other attractions in Salem enjoy an excellent online reputation — especially Real Pirates and the Witch Pix. According to TripAdvisor, this photo studio, where you can get your portrait taken as a witch or warlock, is recognised as one of the nine most distinctive travel experiences in the USA.
Analysing events and travellers’ behaviours: All the advantages for the tourist destination
This brief analysis we conducted on Derry and Salem to understand the impact of a holiday like Halloween on a tourist destination is far from enough.
Thanks to a thorough analysis of data on hotels, flights, and visitor behaviour related to sporting or folk events, any DMO can gain a strong competitive advantage.
Resource optimisation: Event analysis allows DMOs to allocate financial and human resources more efficiently by focusing efforts on events that generate a higher Return on Investment (ROI).
Detect rising trends: Monitoring tourists’ behaviours before, during, and after events allows DMOs to quickly adapt their strategy to emerging trends and visitor preferences, keeping the destination in line with market changes.
Enhance the tourist experience: Understanding what tourists appreciate during their visit helps destination managers improve the overall visitor experience, increasing satisfaction and, consequently, online reputation.
Create more effective marketing campaigns: Better understanding visitors’ preferences and behaviours during events can help create targeted campaigns aimed at specific audiences, contributing to reaching key market segments.
Assess economic impact: Measuring the economic impact of events on the destination allows DMOs to demonstrate the value that each event brings in terms of revenue, employment, and economic growth.
Crisis management: Real-time data collection on events helps DMOs quickly identify any issues or emergency situations, enabling a timely response and effective crisis management. Similarly, collecting post-event data helps optimise future experiences to prevent the same issues from recurring.
Active engagement of stakeholders: Sharing event data with hoteliers, restaurateurs, local businesses, and authorities fosters closer collaboration and resource optimisation.
Long-term planning: The data obtained is crucial for long-term planning, allowing for the establishment of sustainable development goals and ensuring the continuous growth of the destination.
Boost competitiveness: A well-informed destination can maintain or improve its global competitiveness by adapting its tourism offerings to international market demands.