Tucson tourism benefits from Final Four fandom - Tucson News Now

Tucson tourism benefits from Final Four fandom

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

On the freeway to Phoenix and the road to the Final Four, Tucson tourism is benefiting.

Hotels in metro Tucson are already telling Visit Tucson President & CEO Brent DeRaad that they are going to have an "outstanding first week of April." The NCAA Basketball Final Four is being held in Glendale, at University of Phoenix Stadium, on April 1 and April 3.

"No question about it. When we talk to the hotels, and ask if they sense any Final Four push from that, a lot of what they're getting are meetings," DeRaad said Thursday. "These are meetings that may have once been in Phoenix or Scottsdale, but a lot of those rooms had to be committed well in advance by those properties to the Final Four host committee."

DeRaad also attributed the increase to fans choosing to stay outside of the host city.

The numbers DeRaad presented showed spikes in Tucson occupancy when major sporting events happen in Phoenix. He said it's always difficult to market Tucson as a first option for fans coming into Arizona for these sports championships.

"Just because of the sheer volume of hotel rooms in the metro Phoenix area. With 60,000 hotel rooms, they can easily handle the number of people from that perspective," he said.

But DeRaad explained they can capitalize on spillover.

"Sometimes it can almost have an adverse effect, to some extent, on the destination that's hosting. Surrounding areas can get a little more business just because of that opportunity of having a little bit lower occupancy, and the hotel rates certainly lower during that time frame, as well."

According to statistics from Super Bowl XLIX, played in Glendale, hotel occupancy in metro Tucson went up 11 percent in January 2015 and 5 percent in February 2015, compared to the previous year. DeRaad said the increase can be directly applied to residual impact from guests opting for Tucson over Phoenix.

Around the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game, played in Glendale, statistics showed a 6 percent spike in hotel occupancy in January 2016, compared to the previous year. It was the largest percentage increase of the entire year.

The percentages also showed a large spike in average daily rate. Tucson hotels raised their prices around the time of those games; an 11 percent increase in rates around the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game and a 3.4 percent rate increase in February 2015 around Super Bowl XLIX.

Although the telling statistic, according to DeRaad, was the RevPAR or revenue per available room. It showed an increase in money gained during these time periods.

Around the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship Game, in January 2016 compared to January 2015, Tucson hotels saw an 18.3 percent RevPAR boost. They saw a 10.8 RevPAR increase in January 2015, and a 8.6 percent RevPAR increase in February 2015, around Super Bowl XLIX.

According to most hospitality services, RevPAR is believed to give a more accurate and broad picture of a hotel's performance.

DeRaad said there are no legal roadblocks to using official sporting event logos of the host city Phoenix in their Tucson promotional items.

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