Mega Events and Seasonality: The Case of the Milan World Expo 2015
International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management (Forthcoming)
32 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 11, 2018
Purpose This article explores the effects generated by the Milan World Expo 2015 on both firm performance and seasonality structure. It aims to answer the following research question: Did the Milan Expo 2015 influence only hotel results without changing seasonal patterns, or was this mega event able to reconfigure seasonal periods?
Methodology The present analysis is based on Smith Travel Research (STR) data. This source offers daily data on a large sample of Milan hotels (approximately 80 percent of the total), representing more than 30,000 rooms. The empirical data relates to a period of 12 years, 11 of which are focused on the pre-event period (2004–2014), while 2015 is centered on the Milan Expo. This data comprises 4,383 daily observations. For each day, three operating measures were analyzed: occupancy, average daily rate (ADR), and revenue per available room (RevPAR).
Findings The empirical findings fully support the first hypothesis: the four seasonal periods built around the main market segments are relevant lenses for understanding Milan’s demand structure before Expo 2015. The findings also support the second hypothesis relating to the effects generated by the event: Expo 2015 was able to improve hotel performance during the four seasonal periods analyzed. The most fragile seasonality registered the highest rise. Finally, the last two hypotheses to be investigated are as follows: did the Milan Expo 2015 simply improve hotel performance, without changing the underlying seasonal patterns (hypothesis 3), or did this event reconfigure the demand structure (hypothesis 4)? The analyses carried out lend more support to the fourth hypothesis, suggesting that new seasonal patterns emerged during Expo 2015.
Originality This paper explores the impact of a mega event on seasonal patterns of hotel performance metrics. At least three original aspects are introduced. Firstly, to analyze the Milan demand variation, a market segment approach that proposes an innovative seasonal matrix is developed. This is based on the three main client groups attracted by the destination. Secondly, the effects generated by the Expo are measured with consideration given to the four seasonal periods. Thirdly, based on graphical and statistical analysis, the paper confirms that new seasonal patterns emerged during the Expo.
Keywords: Milan Expo, seasonality, event management, mega event, reconfiguration strategy
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