“With the COVID festivals in 2021 and 2022, people were booking at the last minute because they didn’t know if they were going to get sick or if shows were going to be canceled or if there was going to be a lockdown or what,” Provan said. “That habit, perhaps booking a little later than usual, has not disappeared yet.”
The Melbourne Fashion Festival kicked off Friday and is also counting on a rush of last-minute sales.
Chief executive Caroline Ralphsmith said ticket sales for the festival, held at the Royal Exhibition Buildings, were back to pre-COVID levels and were selling well.
“While there will undoubtedly always be some last-minute ticket sales, several events in the schedule, such as the David Jones Autumn Winter Runway, have been sold out for weeks,” she said.
Ralphsmith said there were two groups of ticket buyers: those who wanted to get the best seats and booked well in advance, and those who liked to be more spontaneous.
“You can buy electronically,” she said. “You can see what’s going on. You can watch the weather. If there’s a bit of an outdoor component, you can pick the day that looks better and all, and you can even buy three minutes by walking in.
Ralphsmith said the ticket sales curve surged on the actual days of the festival, which was all part of the festival experience, but made planning difficult.
Tickets for each of the festival’s four premium catwalks were still on sale on Friday on the festival’s website.
At the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, creative director Pat Nourse also keeps a close eye on ticket sales.
He said three weeks into hosting 200 events was always pretty intense, but “it feels a lot better than this time last year”.
The festival’s showpieces – The World’s Longest Lunch, where 2,000 people lunch in Treasury Gardens, and The World’s Longest Brunch, hosted this year by Beatrix Bakes’ Natalie Paull – quickly sold out. But other events depended more on the latecomers.
“With ticket sales over the past three years … people (are) leaving later,” Nourse said. “So I’d say it’s been a mixed bag in that regard.”
Nourse said that while it would be great to sell out every event in advance, the festival’s strategy has been to cater to people who didn’t want to commit in advance by offering a range of events that didn’t require a booking .
“We’ve put in enough stuff for the person who hasn’t really thought about booking a seat months in advance, who just wants to rock out at the festival,” he said. “We’ve got a bunch of family-friendly stuff in Federation Square, and we’ve got the Festival Bar, which brings together the best food and drink talent in town right now.”
Nourse said he was confident Melburnians would support the festivals.
“I think people are showing that they want to go back and embrace what life in this city is all about,” he said. “If you’re in Melbourne in March, it’s all about Melbourne, put it at 11, it’s Melbourne max.”
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