Should You Plan Events in the 10 Happiest Cities in the World?

Skift Take

When you think of the happiest city in the world where do you picture? The big question is what makes people happy and how do you quantify that when planning events? Here are 10 of the happiest cities in the world and why you should think about planning your events there.

Making attendees happy at events is an important goal that helps to secure loyal attendees and a growing client base. Ultimately a happy guest is more likely to tell their friends and come back again.

Happiness is more of a science than you think and there are many factors that make up a happy population. Using the United Nations World Happiness Report figures that rated countries based on their happiness indicators, we were able to see the happiest cities and could explore what makes the population happy, what makes them tick and the type of events that they host.

If you have ever wondered what are the top 10 happiest cities in the world then you have come to the right place as we answer the question: should you plan your events there? and if so, which ones would suit?

Happiness Indicators

To assess the suitability of these cities, we first need to identify some of the indicators for happiness and what this can mean for the event industry.

Loyalty – Whether this is for a specific event, headline or city, loyalty shows that an attendee is happy with what is being provided in one form or another.

Health – The healthier the population the happier they are as they are not plagued by illnesses (well are you happy when you’re sick?) This can translate into planning events by offering healthier alternatives to food, alcohol or drinks and activities. You could also opt to promote healthy lifestyles and world health by running eco-friendly or green events.

Social Connection – Cities that have programs to encourage social interaction tend to have happier people because many of the causes of depression are related to feelings of loneliness. Creating events or areas where attendees and guests can interact and break the ice can have a positive effect on the way they interact at your event and can boost their mood. In addition to this, excellent social media surrounding an event can help attendees feel connected and more involved in an environment they are more comfortable with.

Generosity – Not just financially but also with their time, if your event staff and attendees are happier they are more likely to give more which specifically helps if your events are volunteer driven. You should note that a lot of the happiest cities are not in fact in the richest countries in the world and this is important to remember that throwing money at an event will not necessarily yield happy results.

Patience – Having more patience is usually a sign of those who are more care-free and happier which is particularly beneficial if your event ever requires a short waiting time or runs into any technical difficulties. In difficult times having understanding attendees means a lot!

Smiles – In the service industry the phrase “service with a smile” is often used often in training new employees and this is because a smile is welcoming and infectious. Would you feel comfortable being served food from someone who looks like they might have just spat in it? Nope. Making your attendees smile is not just reserved for comedy acts and can encourage others to do the same so this should be a real goal of yours.

Positivity – Happy attendees and event staff are more positive which helps create a welcoming atmosphere and alleviates awkwardness, stress and can encourage problem solving. Positive attendees are also more inclined to buy things at an event which can increase your revenue if you have additional extras that you are trying to promote.  

10 Happiest Cities in 2016

So which cities come out on top on the happiness scale and why would they be a good choice to host your event?

  1. Stockholm, Sweden

Number ten on the list is Stockholm, a city which gives high regard to equality and family values above all else. Swedes are comfortable with their bodies and being happy in their own skin reduces stress and anxiety and makes them less judgmental of others, which increases overall happiness.

The city hosts a variety of local festivals and Christmas markets to appeal to the population. Stockholm has been hosting gay pride celebrations for almost 20 years, since 1998. Swedes prefer to smile at each other to improve happiness and encourage a calmer atmosphere, which is a great approach for any event.

  1. Canberra, Australia

Australia attributes happiness in part due to comfortable incomes and reasonable wages to provide a more stable and happy life. Alcohol and nightlife also seem to play an important factor in the overall happiness of the country which means that evening events are likely to be successful here.

That being said, fitness and health are also happiness factors and Canberra hosts local sports and multicultural festivals that encourages a healthy lifestyle and positive body image. The weather also contributes to the happiness of the population with a large amount of sun and warmth year round making it more accessible than other cities for outdoor events.

  1. Wellington, New Zealand

A large happiness emphasis in New Zealand is attributed to health and sport and this is reflected through the variety of sporting events that it hosts throughout the year including, its most recent announcement, the Rugby League World Cup 2017. Wellington is also contributing to hosting the World Masters Games in 2017 which highlights the city on a global stage but still maintains its charm. In addition to this, fresh and local produce with reduced pesticides are showcased in the food and wine festivals throughout the year which all help to promote a healthier lifestyle.

It is important to note that the population in New Zealand does not link happiness to wealth and that is of lower importance to them than their sense of culture and patriotism. Their main happiness characteristic is due to the thankful and appreciative nature of what they have, which means that they learn to appreciate what is here and now.

  1. Amsterdam, Netherlands

One of the main happiness indicators in Amsterdam is freedom of choice and this can be reflected in the more relaxed attitude towards religious choices, sexuality and also certain drugs. This means that the population is a lot more open-minded and less judgmental which is perfect for certain event themes.

Another one of the main signs of happiness is eco-friendly travel and this is in the form of the impressive bike path networks in the relatively flat city which host many cycling events throughout the year. This beautiful city is a very cultural one that hosts festivals, exhibitions and concerts while also being a favorite in Europe for corporate events and team building with organized tours and activities. Here are some event ideas for Holland.  

  1. Ottawa, Canada

Canadians are known for their politeness and this is no different in the capital of Ottawa which considers being kind and polite to others as an indication of happiness. Other areas that rank highly are business, entrepreneurship and citizenship which encourages innovation and would be beneficial for start-ups or local events to have a more supportive atmosphere. In addition to this, Canadians were deemed to be most helpful in a crisis and therefore if your event is starting to unravel and you need some help to fix it, Ottawa could be the place to go.

Health and sport are considered high ranking as well and as host of the longest cross-country ski tour, Ottawa is used to the stamina of sporting events. As one of the few cities who also host a race weekend dedicated to exercise and health it includes over 50,000 people participating in races ranging from; the marathon, half marathon, 10k, 5k and 2k, which makes it receptive to host sporting events.

  1. Helsinki, Finland

This generally happy city has many reasons to feel this way because the workforce itself feels more valued with high amounts of vacation time, suitable maternity/paternity leave and lower interest rates, the standard of living is much higher. Health and wellness is a strong indicator of happiness and this is apparent with the hosting of sporting events throughout the year including Velofest. As the 1952 Olympic hosts, it has a large park which aims to be the center of entertainment, culture and events within the city and the government has decided to renovate as of 2016 to improve this.

The main point to note within Finland is that its main priority is equality and freedom of information which makes the population more welcoming and with a strong sense of morality. As 42% of national government within Finland are female (compared to the 18% in the US) it has helped to solidify strong human rights values and promote both gender and sexuality equality. Events that promote human rights such as LGBT parades would be popular and well received within the country.

  1. Oslo, Norway

With a large portion of its country’s wealth coming from oil, Norway can afford to keep taxes to a minimum which improves the standard of living and provides predominantly free healthcare to its population, making it healthier and happier. In addition to this, the Norwegian government was one of the first to agree to initiatives to help reduce greenhouse gases and lower fossil fuel consumption for the planet. They did this by introducing clean, renewable energy sources such as hydropower which appeals to eco-friendly or green event themes and helps to maintain a healthy atmosphere, free from fumes and smog like many other cities.

The sense of charity within Oslo is also a deciding factor in happiness and while the capital tends to host events such as football finals and music festivals, next year they are hosting the Homeless World Cup 2017. This is an event that celebrates and highlights the street soccer initiatives that take place in over 73 countries for those on the edges of society. Oslo also has an excellent music scene and caters to small local events to larger concerts which makes it a good all-rounder for events.  

  1. Reykjavik, Iceland

The attractive scenery and the home of the Northern Lights is usually what brings attendees to local events and tourists to Reykjavik but in fact Iceland has a lot more to offer than a beautiful backdrop for your event. It often hosts guided tours, international film and music festivals and concerts for alternative artists. As a highly optimistic community it gets its happiness from working together to solve problems and maintains a “village” mentality despite being the capital of the country.

An important factor in deciding population happiness for Iceland is also health and wellness and it has managed to reduce the amount of pesticides it allows on food to minimal amounts to improve overall health. Locals (and tourists) also utilize natural springs and other elements of nature to promote a healthy lifestyle which can attract event attendees who rate wellbeing as a priority too.

  1. Bern, Switzerland

Bern in Switzerland was the happiest city in 2015 before being pipped to the post this year by Denmark but that doesn’t mean the Swiss are any less happy and here’s why. With education being an important factor in happiness, Switzerland is higher than the global average with 86% of adults having the equivalent of a high school degree or higher which is a huge difference to the 72% global average and this definitely makes for savvy attendees. Partly due to this, many of the population is multilingual and can speak; Italian, French, German or English which makes it an excellent host for multi-national or international events to make everyone feel welcome.

Many of you will have also heard of Switzerland for skiing and it hosts a variety of winter events that also incorporate the impressive food (specifically cheese and chocolate) that has been made famous by the country. Bern also has one of the fastest internet speeds which means that specifically for large tech events it can be more effective than most! One of the best happiness factors affecting Bern is the highly ranked transport links which are clean, tidy and effective which is beneficial for event planning and organizing while also taking the stress out of travelling and helping to improve happiness overall.

  1. Copenhagen, Denmark

At the top of the list is Copenhagen and from the outset it is easy to see why. With some of the highest average hourly income rates (around $20 per hour) and strong, enforced worker’s unions their rights are well cared for which makes working less stressful. Due to this standard of living, money is considered less important as a happiness factor than a social life which makes event planning in the city very welcome.

With events including annual music concerts, the Oktoberfest beer festival and yearly Halloween events at the Tivoli gardens, there is a rich variety of events to cater for all interests. It is also relevant to consider that over 60% of Danes are charitable and give around 20% of their income to charity, promoting a sense of self-worth and making them happy. Fundraising events in Copenhagen could yield good results.

In Conclusion

A happy population is a great barometer to indicate some great locations to host your events. As you can see from the list, each of these cities brings something unique to events and the happiness factor can help to improve the likelihood of success.

There is no single scientific formula, instead many different factors contribute to overall happiness depending on the unique outlook of each city or culture. There is no disputing that happier people feel that they lead better and more fulfilled lives and these content and optimistic types are the ideal kind of attendees you want at your events and the perfect environment you want to work in. So the answer is of course, yes you should plan events in 10 of the happiest cities in the world.