From hoops to hotels: 3 ways to boost revPAR during March Madness
March Madness is a major cultural event – and economic driver – in the US
March Madness, the NCAA’s annual college basketball tournament, is one of the most popular and exciting sporting events in the United States. An average of 10.7 million viewers tuned in to the tournament in 2022, with many traveling to the tournament sites to experience the excitement first hand – meaning a spike in occupancy rates for hotel operators in host cities.
Accommodation providers in these cities look forward to the event as it provides a much needed boost to the industry as certain regions slowly continue to recover after being hit particularly hard by the pandemic. This year, 75,000 fans are expected to travel to the Houston, Texas area for the Final Four game on Saturday, April 1, when the event is projected to have an economic impact of a whopping $4,498,295 on the city – with $1,510,946 of that being spent on accommodations alone:
By incorporating intelligent event data into their demand planning and forecasting, hotel revenue managers and their teams can accurately predict how events like March Madness will drive demand for their hotel locations. This information powers the ability to dynamically adjust pricing and packaging, and align marketing messaging to attract the attention of fans eager to celebrate the tournament any way they can. Let’s take a look at five ways for revenue managers and hotel operators to maximize revPAR by taking advantage of the higher levels of demand driven by the three-week tournament.
3 ways to maximize revPAR during March Madness
There are few events in the US that can compare to the NCAA's annual March Madness tournament in terms of the passion and sense of community it generates, whether you're a sports fan or not.
March Madness presents a unique opportunity for accommodation providers to capitalize on this frenzy of spending and excitement by analyzing past booking patterns, adjusting pricing and promotional strategies, and leveraging event-based marketing to attract fans and other customers. To make the most of the tournament, consider the following three ideas:
Take a closer look at your historical data: One of the most important things you can do to maximize revenue potential during March Madness is to analyze past booking patterns and occupancy rates. By understanding how the tournament has impacted your business historically, you can better predict how demand for your rooms will change during the tournament and adjust your pricing and promotional strategies accordingly. For example, MGM Resorts predicts this year’s March Madness to bring in the company’s highest hotel revenue in a one-month period. Considering that last quarter, their average daily room rate was already up 30% over the same period last year, the tournament presents a huge revenue opportunity for them and other hotels in host cities.
Offer special packages and rates for fans: Another effective strategy is to offer special March Madness packages that include discounted rates or other incentives to attract fans traveling to the tournament. For example, if you notice that bookings tend to spike in the weeks leading up to the tournament, you may want to consider offering special early-bird rates to attract customers who are planning their trips in advance. Hotels such as Marriott and hotel casinos such as Caesars Palace in Las Vegas typically offer discounted packages and a wide variety of events and options for fans to watch (and bet on) each game in the tournament.
Spruce up your event-based promotions: Event-based marketing is another powerful tool for attracting customers during March Madness. This could include social media campaigns, targeted advertising, and other marketing initiatives that highlight your proximity to tournament sites and your amenities and services. By using targeted messaging and creative promotions, you can increase your visibility and appeal to a wider range of potential customers. One example of this is the Circa hotel in Las Vegas, who hosts a poolside viewing party called “Mania at the Stadium” at their impressive rooftop pool lounge. Another would be when one Indianapolis hotel hung a March Madness bracket on the side of the building, in full view of the city.
March Madness represents a huge opportunity for accommodation providers to capitalize on the massive spending and excitement that surrounds this major cultural event. By using data-driven insights, event-based marketing, and other strategies, you can attract fans and other customers, maximize your revenue potential, and position your business for success during the tournament and beyond.
According to the NCAA, the 2021 March Madness tournament saw a 16% increase in viewership compared to the previous year, indicating that the popularity of the tournament continues to grow. By taking advantage of this trend and implementing effective marketing and pricing strategies, you can ensure that your business thrives during this exciting time.