Research shows the impact of NFL games on hotel demand depends on the host city, the impact of the games on standings and the time of the season.
Editor’s note: This is part three in an ongoing series looking at the impact of NFL games on hotel performance in the U.S.
BROOMFIELD, Colorado—As we continue to dissect the impact of the NFL on the hotel industry, we discover that not all games are created equal. In evaluating data over the past eight seasons, the chart below shows the average impact per game for each week of the season, from preseason through the conference championships.
- Read Part 1: “Scoring the NFL’s impact on the hotel industry”
- Read Part 2: “NFL impact: Teams boost offense for local hoteliers”
Clearly, no one is a big fan of the preseason. People may be excited for the NFL to resume in early August, but as the preseason wears on, fans become less interested and the games negatively affect hotel revenue. As the regular season builds up, impact grows more significant. The weeks with the least amount of impact, or even negative impact, are during the holiday periods (Labor Day in Week 1; Thanksgiving in Week 12; and the Christmas/New Year’s holiday period during Weeks 17, 18 & 19). Naturally, the impact snowballs during the playoffs as they progress, culminating in the conference championship, which adds more than $1 million in room revenue to each host city on average over the past eight years.
Looking at the games with the most impact in the 2015 season, as noted in our previous article, the New Orleans Saints brought in the most incremental revenue as a home team and the Carolina Panthers brought in the most additional revenue as an away team. So, it falls in line that their match up would have the most revenue impact. The New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers on 6 December 2015, was the most impactful game of the season, with a net room revenue impact of $5.1 million. The matchup was highly anticipated as the Saints attempted to take the Panthers undefeated season away from them. In the end, the Carolina Panthers kept their streak going with a 41-28 victory over the Saints, but the Saints had 4 of the 10 most revenue-impactful games of the season, the most of any team.
The Deflategate rematch between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots also had a notable impact, adding $2.1 million in room revenue to the city of Indianapolis.
The second highest revenue impactful game was on the same day, 6 December, between the Chicago Bears and the San Francisco 49ers. The Bears were trying to keep their playoff dreams alive as the 49ers were just trying to avoid their worst record since 2005. The 49ers were able to do just that with a 26-20 win over the Bears; the Bears never made it to the playoffs.
The table below lists the most impactful 2015 regular season home games for each team. The largest percentage impact was Dallas at Green Bay, which boosted the local room revenue by an astounding 743%. Other games with huge impact to their cities include: Green Bay’s debacle in Glendale, Arizona, where Aaron Rodgers was sacked eight times; Philadelphia’s stunning win over the Patriots at Foxborough, Massachusetts; and the Dallas Cowboys overtime loss to the Eagles in Arlington, Texas. Only eleven games are between division rivals, illustrating that the uncommon match-up often induces the most demand for the host city. However, the four-hour drive between Cleveland and Cincinnati is just far enough to make that home and away series the most impactful to those cities.
Looking historically at the games that have had the highest room revenue impact, none of the top 10 games were in the 2015 season and only one was in the 2014 season; 2013 had the most with three games. The most impactful game to room revenue was a Thursday night game in the 2014 season, where the Dallas Cowboys had a relatively easy win over the Chicago Bears. Of the top 10 highest revenue impactful games from 2008 to 2015, eight of them took place in the latter half of the season in November and December. As previously discussed, the weaker months for the hotel industry provide a greater opportunity for positive impact. Moreover, games become more meaningful toward the latter part of the season.
The San Francisco 49ers had the most games on the top 10 list with four as a home team and one as an away team. The hotel population in the host city is a key element in determining absolute impact to room revenue. The sheer size of urban markets like Chicago, New Orleans, San Diego and San Francisco provide an ample supply of hotel rooms for fans. Even a modest lift in performance in such markets can generate a large boost to revenues.
So what does this all say about the upcoming 2016 NFL season? There are certainly a few games on the schedule that will likely have strong impact on their respective markets. While almost every at Lambeau Field is impactful, the games versus the Cowboys and the Seahawks will likely be the most impactful up in the frozen tundra. Other notable games that are expected to have solid impact include: Pittsburgh at New England on 23 October; Dallas at Pittsburgh and Denver at New Orleans on 13 November; and Carolina at Seattle on 4 December.
To provide additional color to this analysis, the dashboard below allows you to view the impact every NFL game has had to room rates, demand and room revenue over the past eight seasons. You can sort by home team, season and type of game.
Notes: Excludes neutral site games (i.e. the Super Bowl, Hall of Fame Game, International Series games in London, New York Giants/Minnesota Vikings game moved to Detroit in 2010 and New York Jets/Buffalo Bills game moved to Detroit in 2014); excludes Buffalo Bills home games played in Toronto; San Francisco 49ers moved from San Francisco to Santa Clara in 2014.
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