The Everest challenges Melbourne Cup’s dominance in ‘bleisure’ travel category
Australia’s most prestigious racing events, The Everest and the Melbourne Cup, have been at odds for the past six years, dividing racing enthusiasts. Recent data reveals that Sydney-hosted The Everest is rapidly gaining favour among business racegoers who are flying in for the event, as well as those seeking extended stays.
This revelation comes from Corporate Traveller, the flagship SME division of Flight Centre Travel Group, recognising that business travellers often plan work meetings around leisure activities. Corporate Traveller conducted a thorough comparison of all domestic bookings in the week preceding each major race and then for two days surrounding the events in 2022 and 2023, yielding fascinating insights.
For business travellers on short-stay trips, The Everest is emerging as the preferred choice this year. In the previous year, Corporate Traveller noted a 43 percent increase in bookings to Melbourne for the day before and the day of the Melbourne Cup compared to Sydney on the equivalent days for The Everest. Remarkably, 61 percent of combined one- to two-day bookings for both races last year were directed towards the Melbourne Cup.
Corporate Traveller anticipates a shift in this trend this year, with their travel booking data projecting an 18 percent increase in bookings for one- to two-day trips to The Everest compared to the Melbourne Cup. The Everest is set to attract 55 percent of one- to two-day bookings for both races this year.
For ‘bleisure’ (part business travel, part leisure travel) trips extending up to seven days, The Everest is also out in front according to the data. Corporate Traveller recorded 12 percent more bookings to Sydney last year and forecasts a 48 percent increase this year compared to the Melbourne Cup. It appears that Melbourne-based business travellers, in particular, prefer extended trips centred around The Everest, with 51% of bleisure bookings in 2022 originating from Melbourne.
A jockey who had almost quit for good and a horse that was not really meant to be in it combined to triumph in the Everest. Sam Clipperton rode Think About It to a $7 million victory in a race now entrenched as one of Australia's biggest events. 7NEWS at 6pm. #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/wtXoQQU74B
— 7NEWS Sydney (@7NewsSydney) October 14, 2023
“The data aligns with The Everest organisers’ strategic move to not only stage their event before the Melbourne Cup, but to schedule it on a weekend,” Tom Walley, the Global Managing Director of Corporate Traveller in Australia, explains.
“The Melbourne Cup is on a Tuesday when most people need to get back to work either side of that day. Visitors attending The Everest can extend a business trip into the weekend and return to the office on Monday. Remote working arrangements have contributed to more of this kind of travel, where workers have the flexibility to align business commitments with events.
“Both these cities and events have their own unique appeal. The Everest’s prize pool has grown exponentially in its six years, with this year’s pool having reached $20 million.
“The Melbourne Cup has a total prize pool just shy of $8 million, less than half of Everest, but it has a solid, 140-year history of racing. These are different races, too: the Melbourne Cup is a 3200m marathon whereas The Everest is 1200m sprint. They’re entirely different racing experiences.”
With the Melbourne Cup just around the corner, Walley points out that plenty of flights are still available for the last-minute rush to the Melbourne Cup on November 6-7. Increased flight capacity has also resulted in reduced airfares.
“Unlike last year, Bonza is now flying to Melbourne and Rex has increased its capacity. With all those extra flights, prices are down and there are still plenty more flights available to get you to the Melbourne Cup.”
— Victoria Racing Club (@FlemingtonVRC) November 1, 2023
In 2023, The Everest took place at Randwick Racecourse on October 14, while the Melbourne Cup is scheduled to commence at Flemington Racecourse on November 7. Both racecourses offer a range of premium corporate experiences, from the glamorous Ballroom at Randwick to the unique infield experience of The Panoramic at Flemington.