Research Methodology

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Methodologies, terminologies and models used for the delivery of the evaluation of the Great Exhibition of the North

Visitor Surveys

Visitor surveys were undertaken across the 80 day period of the Exhibition at key locations. These were:

  • BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (101)
  • The Quayside (150)
  • Outside of Theatre Royal (101)
  • Discovery Museum (104)
  • Great North Museum (101)
  • Central Station (52)
  • Monument (151)

Economic impact

To ensure a robust understanding of the economic impact of the Great Exhibition of the North (GEOTN) we required a number of key inputs. These were:

  • Visitor numbers to venues – provided direct by venues
  • Hotel occupancy data – taken from T-Stats hotel monitoring system (T-stats is the data collection system for tourism performance in NewcastleGateshead)
  • Key event data including Family Expo and Opening Event
  • Visitor expenditure collected through GEOTN visitor survey
  • Levels of influence gathered from the GEOTN visitor survey allowing for weighting of data
  • Expenditure data taken from the visitor survey

Using this data we have utilised two established models to arrive at both the footfall and overall economic impact data. These models are:

  • Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor (STEAM) – from which visitor footfall has been established
  • SusTrip Economic Impact Model – from which the overall impact data has been gathered

Global Tourism Solutions created, operate and own the STEAM model. STEAM is a tourism economic impact used by local authorities, National Park Authorities and a host of other bodies with a tourism remit to track trend in tourism impacts.

The model uses data from local destinations to generate estimates of direct tourism impact and supplements this with the use of multipliers to estimate indirect and induced effects.

STEAM has been used in NewcastleGateshead for more than 15 years. Each year, monthly changes in the following have been tracked in the model:

To generate outputs specific to GEOTN, Global Tourism Solutions have:

  • Extracted from the published 2017 STEAM data for NGI, outputs matching the period of the GEOTN – this was to provide a baseline / comparative set of data. Complete monthly data for July and August 2017 data was used, with part month data for June and September.
  • Generated a 2018 STEAM model for the same period and within it:
    • Adjusted the occupancy assumptions in the model using new (daily) occupancy data from NGI
    • Identified from data supplied by NGI the one-off event footfalls (opening event for example) and allocated a share of these footfalls as tourism activity
    • Used the data from attractions supplying NGI with footfall data for the dates of the GEOTN 2018 and taken 50% of the net change in visits to be tourism activity over and above 2017 levels for the same period
    • The underlying base tourism visits for the equivalent period in 2017 have also been adjusted upwards using the wider range of data from footfall counts
    • Adjusted inflationary assumptions relating to visitor spend from 2018 ONS data
    • Adjusted Weekly Earnings assumptions from ONS 2018 data
Sustainable Tourism Research Intelligence Partnership Economic Impact Model

The Sustainable Tourism Research Intelligence Partnership (SUSTRIP) Economic Impact Model was designed by a collaboration of Tourism South East, Visit Kent, Breda University and Westtoer to assess the economic benefit of an event on its host area.

The model has been used to estimate the impact of events such as the Tour de France, London Marathon, Open Golf Championship, V Festival and T in the Park.

To identify the overall economic impact and expenditure attributable to visitors to GEOTN we utilised the SUSTRIP Economic Impact Model.

To ensure the outputs were as accurate as possible we gathered the following input data:

  • Visitor numbers – provided from the STEAM model
  • Spend per local resident, non local day visitor and overnight visitor – Gathered from the GEOTN Visitor Survey
  • Influence of the GEOTN in the visit (visitors were asked if GEOTN was their main reason for visit, part of the reason, whether they came across the event upon arrival or did not know anything about GEOTN)

Using the input data the model discounts the local audience and attributes weighting to those who said the visit was main reason (100%) and part of the reason (50%), also discounting those who were not aware of the Exhibition until they arrived.

The economic models are one part of a wider evaluation programme which included surveys with teachers, volunteers, stakeholders, venues and visitors.

Perceptions Research

To gather a wider sample on perceptions and awareness of both the Great Exhibition and the North in general we utilised two online panels, Northern Voice and Panelbase.

Panelbase is a national online research panel . We commissioned panelbase to ask a nationally representative sample of 1000 respondents as to whether they had visited the Exhibition. Using this we asked 500 who had visited and 500 who had not a series of questions on the North to allow comparisons to be drawn about changes in perception based on awareness.

Northern Voice was an in house panel commissioned as part of the Great Exhibition of the North to gather an understanding as to peoples propensity to visit the Exhibition, awareness of the event itself and key sentiment towards the North as a place to live, work and visit. Surveys were undertaken on a regular basis to understand changes in sentiment and the panel will remain as a legacy of the Exhibition available to partners involved in the Exhibition to use.


Teacher survey

An online survey was sent to all teachers who had booked an organised trip to the Exhibition. The survey was carried out through Northern Voice and we received 104 responses. The survey informed us as to the proportion of school groups from deprived communities as well as information on satisfaction with the trip and likelihood of utilising the trip for further studies post visit. The survey supported data collated throughout the school booking process.

Volunteer Survey

A mixture of online and face to face surveys were carried out with those who had volunteered on Great Exhibition of the North to understand the impact the experience had on them, likelihood to volunteer again and skill development. Overall we received 105 responses to the survey.

Opening event survey

An online survey was sent to those who attended the opening ceremony to understand more about audience profile, satisfaction, expenditure and likelihood to visit the Exhibition as it went on during the summer. The opening event survey received 460 responses. This gives a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of +/-5%

Family Expo

A separate survey was devised for the Family Expo, aimed to gather specific information on where visitors had come from and to understand if the Expo had acted as an inspiration to find out more about STEAM subjects. The survey was carried out face to face at the event with 142 surveys collected. A further 20 online responses were received from specific community group leaders.

Northern Powerhouse Business Summit

The final survey undertaken was with attendees and exhibitors at the Northern Powerhouse Business Summit. This survey was to understand visitor profiles as well as to gather an understanding of satisfaction with the event. 41 business responded to the survey.


Alongside these surveys a wide range of data was also collected. This included footfall to the venues of the Great Exhibition of the North, hotel occupancy and room rates, app data, social media data, webstats and media evaluation.

Data on the Inspired By programme was collected from the individual event organisers and combined to give an estimated total.

This data and the raw data from these surveys is the property of NewcastleGateshead Initiative as the lead body for delivery of Great Exhibition of the North. Any questions relating to this data should be made to Ian Thomas, Evaluation Manager,



Within the Great Exhibition evaluation document we have labelled those who have visited specifically as visits rather than visitors. This is due to the fact that they will not have been unique visitors and could include individuals making repeat visits. Indeed the nature of the Exhibition was designed to encourage people to return on multiple occasions.

Day visitor

A day visitor is described as someone who is making a visit of three hours or more outside of their usual routine. (i.e. not usual shopping, routine appointment or work).