Expedia Group, the world’s travel platform and Official Travel Partner of the UEFA Champions League, today presented the results of Destination: Football – An Expedia Group Study on Football Travel Trends*, examining the traits of football fans across the world and their willingness to travel for the beautiful sport.
How did Thai football fans fare?
According to the research commissioned by Expedia Group, Brand Expedia and Hotels.com with 500 Thai respondents, a staggering 49 percent of Thai travellers have planned holidays around sporting events at least once. Of this, 49 percent, 48 percent of male and 50 percent of female respondents confessed to planning their holidays around their favourite team. Showing their dedication, 36 percent admitted to actually changing holiday bookings to make sure they don’t miss a match.
As avid travellers with the excuse of catching their favourite football team, more than half (51 percent) of Thai football fans travel out of their home country to watch one to three football matches per season, with more than half (61 percent) have skipped work to go to a football game. Where sacrifice is concerned, 46 percent of the respondents shared that they are willing to travel up to four hours to an away match to see their team up close.
“Even though Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport and people come together to watch it on weekends, European football is by far a different level of interest among Thais. So similar to most other neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Singapore, the preferred football league of Thais is the European League. It’s amazing to see the dedication that football fans in Thailand have for this sport. In our study, more than one third of them even changed their travel plans before to make sure that they don’t miss a match,” said Lavinia Rajaram, Head of Communications, Asia Pacific, Brand Expedia. “At Expedia Group, we go to great lengths to ensure that travellers get access to a wide range of flights, accommodation and activity options at great prices, so that they can enjoy their football adventures to the fullest without needing to fuss over the travel booking and planning processes.”
Old Trafford voted the most popular football mecca among Thai football fans
Among all the famed football stadiums in the world, Manchester United FC’s Old Trafford topped the list of most desired destination to watch live football, as voted by nearly a third (31 percent) of Thai football fans. This was followed by Liverpool FC’s Anfield which came in second (24 percent), and England’s Wembley Stadium (8 percent) in third place.
Footie fans are also serious about their match companions, with ex-professional footballers topping their celebrity wish lists. Former Brazilian forward Ronaldo was voted the most desirable celebrity to join fans travelling to a football game (34 percent). Former English midfielder David Beckham came in a close second (29 percent), while American actor Brad Pitt came in third (8 percent).
UPON ARRIVAL: Proximity to stadium and transportation, free breakfast are top hotel considerations for Thai fans
When it comes to booking travel for an overseas football game, more than half (65 percent) confirmed they book their travel for a trip as soon as their team’s fixtures are announced, with women (72 percent) being more likely to do so immediately than men (63 percent).
In terms of the top consideration factors for their choice of accommodation, more than half (63 percent) of Thai football fans identified proximity to the stadium as the most important factor in their choice of accommodation, followed by the availability of free breakfast (43 percent) and third is the distance to transportation; train or bus stations (43 percent). In terms of the accommodation type for football-related trips, almost one-third (29 percent) prefer three-star hotels, 18 percent prefer four-star hotels, and 15 percent prefer five-star hotels.
Many football fans also see travelling for football as an opportunity to explore a new city. Aside from watching football, 67 percent prioritise sightseeing when visiting someplace new. Shopping is the second most popular past-time, with 57 percent hoping to bag a bargain. Wanderlust becomes wander-lunch with food playing a meaty role on football-related travels. 49 percent would visit street food markets, 52 percent would search out restaurants, while 43 percent would try out local coffee shops.
The price to pay for Thai football fanatics
In terms of the sacrifices that Thai football fans were willing to make for the beautiful game, when asked, close to half (48 percent) would give up a holiday, 41 percent would sacrifice drinking for a month, while skipping desserts for a month came in third at 30 percent.
In terms of actual spend for an away match, a quarter (24 percent) are willing to spend more than THB 20,000 for a match considering tickets, accommodation (if applicable), travel, food and/or drinks per person.
To help football fans plan their overseas football travel better, Expedia Group revealed new data which showed that flight and accommodation bookings can increase by up to three times on the day of football fixture announcement**. Additionally, searches for the destination also tend to grow in the lead-up to the football event, as seen in the 30 percent increase in searches for Madrid as a destination in the lead-up to the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final on 2 June***.
“When it comes to booking travel, the rule of thumb is to book as early as possible. Football breeds some of the most passionate fans, hence the closer you get to the date of live action, there’s a higher likelihood that you will have less choices and end up paying higher prices. As a general guide, travellers should book their flights at least three weeks ahead, and book on a Sunday to maximise savings. For hotels, booking on a Friday night is your best bet. At Expedia Group, many of our brands, including Brand Expedia and Hotels.com also offer incentives like Expedia.co.th’s package deals and the Hotels.com rewards scheme, to ensure customers will always benefit from booking on our platform,” shared Lavinia.
Destination: Football – An Expedia Group Study on Football Travel Trends was conducted with 16,500 football fans around the world, including 500 football fans from Singapore between 25 February 2019 and 25 March 2019.