Recent major sporting events in different corners of Australia produced differing performance impacts for the respective host markets. Perth realized its strongest revenue per available room (RevPAR) in five years during the AFL Grand Final, while performance during the NRL Grand Final in Brisbane was a bit more held back by COVID-19 restrictions.
The AFL Grand Final was historic on two different fronts, with Melbourne FC ending a 57-year premiership drought and accommodation operators achieving their best night since early 2016. Perth’s RevPAR of AUD268 on Saturday, 25 September was also a 70% increase from the prior Saturday. Additionally, occupancy remained strong during the Sunday through Tuesday that followed the event, which indicates that fans opted to enjoy a few extra days in Peth before making the long trip home.
Current pandemic restrictions meant that only those arriving from the Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania could freely enter Western Australia without quarantine requirements, and when considering flight time to Perth from these destinations, the shortest flight from any major airport was approximately 3 hours and 20 minutes. This was much different than travelling to Melbourne, the traditional host of the AFL Grand Final, which is a short flight from surrounding “footy” loving states. It is also important to recognize that Perth is not currently seeing significant levels of corporate demand, which was a factor in the higher pre- and post-event occupancy levels in Melbourne in 2018 and 2019.
The result was not as resounding a week later in Brisbane, where COVID-19 cases and some tightening of restrictions put the NRL Grand Final at risk. The final eventually moved forward with 75% stadium capacity, and hotel occupancy in the market finished at 53% while RevPAR reached AUD209.15. Both of those levels show that COVID concerns muted potential gains. Additionally, the event taking place on a Sunday night did have the same weekend benefit as the AFL Grand Final in Perth.
If you look at previous weekends in Brisbane, which included two preliminary finals and a RevPAR peak of AUD257.23 on 25 September, performance during the NRL Grand Final was actually lower.
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