Many Canadian sports fans are more likely to travel and see a game on the road rather than attend a game at home or in their closest sports city, according to a new report from Expedia Group Brands (Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo).
The Sports Travel Road Game Report, released Tuesday (Oct. 17), sheds light on the way sports fans prioritize travel, and among those surveyed, nearly half (42 per cent) would be willing to pack their bags to see their favourite team.
Additionally, nearly 80 per cent of fans are looking to take either the same or more trips in the upcoming year than they did the previous year.
The survey about sports travel was conducted online among 1,000 Canadian sports fans from September 13-21, 2023, by OnePoll on behalf of Expedia Group.
Fans prioritized sports travel over dining at restaurants and going to concerts and reported spending on average $4,294 per year on sports trips (including travel, accommodation, tickets and food), the survey says.
For football fans, the cost per trip was said to be approximately $500 higher than the average fan trip, while hockey fans estimate an average spend of $1,291 per trip.
"The amount sports fans are willing to spend may seem surprising to non-sports fans until you realize it's not just about the match — a game on the schedule gives some fans the reason they need to actually book and take their vacation, turning 'someday' into a reality," said Melanie Fish, head of PR for Expedia Group Brands. "We combined the power of Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo to get a comprehensive look at what's inspiring Canadian sports fans to travel, whether those fans are booking packages, a last-minute room on Hotels.com to see their team clinch a playoff spot or booking a Vrbo to stay with your fellow fans."
Fans reported hockey (47 per cent), baseball (21 per cent), soccer (21 per cent) and basketball (21 per cent) were the top sports they were looking to travel and watch in person over the next 12 months, and many were just as likely to travel for American pro football as they are for Canadian football (16 per cent).
While the majority (72 per cent) of fans said the game itself was the best part of being there in person, there are other reasons the in-person experience has so much appeal over watching games on a screen:
- Cheering along with the crowd (55 per cent)
- The chance to gather socially with friends and family (47 per cent)
- In-game entertainment (30 per cent)
For specialty events like awards ceremonies and outdoor games, almost half (45 per cent) reported they were more likely to travel for these occasions than regular games.
Expedia flight data, for example, shows bookings for Nashville, Tenn., saw an increase of 135 per cent during pro hockey's annual awards festivities in June 2023 when compared to the previous week.
As for where Canadians are travelling to, Toronto came in as the most desired destination in the world for Canadian sports fans.
The full list includes:
- Toronto, O.N
- New York, N.Y.
- Montreal, Q.C.
- Las Vegas, Nev.
- Vancouver, B.C.
- Los Angeles, Calif.
- Boston, Mass.
- Miami, Fla.
- Chicago, Ill.
- Seattle, Wash.
Over half of fans (53 per cent) said proximity to the arena was very important to them, but 44 per cent also wanted lodging to be close to other tourist attractions, proving that sports trips aren't just about the games themselves.
Other top amenities for fans included complimentary breakfast (41 per cent) and discounted nightly rates (34 per cent).
The majority of fans also admitted they're willing to shell out more on accommodation that's closer to the arena (73 per cent).
Those aged 55+ were most interested in closer accommodation, but they were also the group least willing to pay extra for it.
Fans were also interested in staying in vacation rentals where they could stay together and enjoy private amenities such as pools and hot tubs.
Almost three quarters (72 per cent) of respondents said they would consider booking a vacation rental for an upcoming sports trip.