Corporate travellers to spend big on Melbourne F1 despite financial pressures

Corporate travellers to spend big on Melbourne F1 despite financial pressures
Edited by Travel Weekly

    Despite the soaring cost of operating a business, corporates are still finding the cash to splash out on Grand Prix tickets in record numbers.

    Corporate hospitality experiences costing $1550 to $4595 per person for the main race day only, or up to $6550 per person for two to three-day passes were almost sold out two weeks in advance, while air travel data showed a 146 per cent jump in bookings around the four-day event compared with last year.

    General admission sold out within two hours demonstrating the value of investing in major events as a way of retaining key business connections and developing new relationships, even in uncertain economic conditions.

    Financial pressure won’t curb travel

    Amid widespread business downturns across various industries, the travel, hospitality, and entertainment sectors are set to outperform other sectors in 2024 with food and drink, entertainment, travel and experiences noted as categories where individuals are most inclined to increase their spending.

    “It’s been a hard couple of years for many businesses, but our data strongly suggests that businesses across the country see value in major events like the Grand Prix,” global MD, Corporate Traveller, Tom Walley, said.

    “This year, we have seen a massive increase in attendance by Canberra-based corporates compared to last, however, the majority of bookings are still from Sydney, followed by Brisbane, across both years.

    “While expensive, events like this are a prime opportunity to network, nurture existing relationships and develop new business and sponsorship opportunities, savvy businesses from all over Australia are beginning to make the most of those benefits.”

    Networking and marketing a priority

    With the focus firmly on networking and brand exposure, corporate bookings between 20-25 March this year were up 146 per cent on bookings for the six days before, during and after the 2023 Grand Prix (29 March to 3 April). Of those, only 9 per cent were international and 91 per cent were local.

    Of local bookings in 2024 compared with 2023, Canberra jumped by 300 per cent, Adelaide by 226 per cent, Brisbane by 191 per cent, Perth by 177 per cent, and Sydney by 194 per cent. Sydneysiders made up 36 per cent of all bookings.

    Crowd-breaking records and a stellar line-up

    In 2023, 444,631 people attended the Grand Prix over four days, a record attendance for Melbourne. Higher numbers are expected to flock to the Albert Park Lake circuit this year with race-day tickets selling out in a couple of hours. The Albert Park circuit can hold an estimated 125,000 people per day, including 44,000 seated.

    “Business owners recognise the importance of investing time and money into their team and associates for long-term gains,” Walley continued.

    “Grand Prix attendance has grown exponentially over the past couple of years as businesses recover, maintain and grow in a tumultuous economic climate.

    “This is one expense that has the long-term potential to relieve financial pressure as well as give businesses and their employees a morale boost and something exciting to look forward to.”

    Melbourne Grand Prix. (Source: Formula One)

    The findings were released by Corporate Traveller, the flagship SME division of Flight Centre Travel Group.

    The Australian Grand Prix is held annually in Melbourne over four days at Albert Park Lake. This year, it’s on from Thursday, 21 March to Sunday, 24 March. Corporate Traveller compared corporate inbound and outbound flight bookings from 20-25 March to capture travel to the four-day event. It found the Thursday is the busiest day, with 25 per cent of all bookings scheduled for this day.

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