The rules might be inexplicable to many, but cricket is the biggest sport in the world for TV audiences, and whenever India and Pakistan play—as the teams did on 16 June—obsessiveness and hotel performance score huge.
MANCHESTER, England—Apart from the soccer World Cup final, cricket is the world’s most popular game in terms of viewing audiences, thanks largely to most of India’s population of 1.37 billion being obsessed with their national sport—along with similar interest in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
That massive base of support translates to a surge in hotel demand when India plays Pakistan, like the recent International Cricket Council World Cup match on 16 June. The winners of that match were both India and hotels in Manchester.
Michael Hewson, GM at the 150-room Hilton Garden Inn Emirates Old Trafford, which is incorporated into the stadium where the game took place and has some rooms directly facing the cricket pitch, said “the demand (and) inquiries we received for the India versus Pakistan match was phenomenal. If memory serves correct, the public ballot for this match was oversubscribed by some 10 times. As such, all of our hospitality options were available to purchase, including an offsite offering for hospitality in order to maximize the turnout.”
Manchester hotels hit big sixes
According to STR, the parent company of Hotel News Now, Manchester (the STR market that comprises the city center and its surroundings, which includes the Old Trafford area) saw a year-over-year increase of 9.2% in occupancy across the weekend of the match to 83%, up from 76% for the corresponding weekend days in 2018. Occupancy on the Saturday came in at 96.4%.
For the same period, average daily rate increased 18% to £110.33 ($138.74) and revenue per available room was up 28.8% to £91.58 ($115.16).
The STR market of Manchester Center also saw good numbers for this weekend.
For the weekend, Manchester Center had a year-over-year increase 11.1% in occupancy to 84.8%, up from 76.3%, while ADR jumped for the same period 21.4% to £136.70 ($171.87) and RevPAR jumped 34.9% to £115.86 ($145.67).
The Saturday on its own saw occupancy in Manchester Center come in at 96.3%.
Cricket is played in various formats, with the World Cup consisting of 50 “overs (six deliveries/pitches per over)” being “bowled” to each team.
Indians and Pakistanis do not need to have explained the rules or jargon, merely needing to know that competition for tickets would be intense and that international visitors would be joined by domestic demand fueled by populations resident within the United Kingdom.
“The Indian market was the main driver for the hotel and the stadium as a whole, and a large amount of tickets were from the domestic market. However, the high-end hospitality and hotel accommodations were overseas guests,” Hewson said, who added he heard that Manchester Airport’s private terminal had its busiest day and, owing to the large demand, private jets were even landing at John Lennon Airport in Liverpool.
There was a strong Pakistani presence, too, Hewson said, but Indian demand came in the strongest.
“The excitement around the stadium, and to be honest in Manchester as a whole, was extraordinary,” Hewson added.
Even a rain delay causing the match to be played in two parts over two days did not dampen Hewson’s hotel performance.
“All bedroom packages are sold as two nights, so the rain delay has little impact to occupancy,” Hewson said, who added several fixtures were held at his stadium, including the 9 July semi-final in which India was beaten by New Zealand.
The other matches it hosted were England versus Afghanistan, New Zealand versus West Indies, India versus the West Indies and Australia versus South Africa.
Matches also were held in Birmingham, Bristol, Chester-Le-Street, Leeds, Nottingham, Southampton, Taunton and in two stadiums in London.
The final, held on 14 July, saw England crowned world champions after it beat New Zealand.