VIP HOSPITALITY ROUNDTABLE
“Declining attendance, or no-shows,
is an issue in sports because streaming
services now create their own audiences,
but hospitality can offset that”
Bill Dorsey, founder and chairman, Association of Luxury Suite Developers
RW: Innovation in design is where America leads.
It has created spaces with a real wow factor. The UK is
more innovative in food and drink, creating phenomenal
dining experiences that are the envy of the world. The
Middle East is still emerging. Their aspirational
environments, within hotels for instance, are well
known, but this hasn’t yet been achieved at venues.
What impact is more advanced
broadcasting having on how you
compete for business? Should the
industry – particularly NFL and MLB –
worry about falling attendance figures,
and can hospitality counter this effect?
RK: Global events such as the NFL coming over to
the UK is spiking interest. The mass-participation
and social elements of Stateside sports project have
a lot of appeal in the UK and are attracting new
demographics. Stadia are also diversifying products
to appeal to global audiences. As such, more people
want to attend NFL games, as much for the sport
as the fanfare and hospitality.
Different sports have to appeal to different needs.
Rugby fans dwell longer, partly due to the drinking in
the stands. Cricket fans enjoy hospitality inside and
away from the stands, meaning fans dwell for longer,
too. Soccer hospitality is popular because general
admission fans cannot drink alcohol in their seats,
so hospitality packages and a variety of F&B offers
are increasing dwell times.
BD: Declining attendance, or no-shows, is an
issue in sports because streaming services now create
their own audiences, but hospitality can offset that.
RW: With streaming and greater TV exposure,
there is less impetus to leave the couch. At the
same time, the experience economy had made live
experiences more attractive. The need to be seen
and share has attracted new audiences. Hospitality
is one component in the live revolution.
What areas of stadium VIP hospitality
are next on the agenda to be improved?
RK: Each stadium and client has to be considered
on a case-by-case basis. By developing stronger
partner relationships, we drip-feed trends and
offers to our guests that are popular on the high
street or other venues.
NG: There is much more competition in
hospitality now from festivals, sports events and
concerts. Thriving companies listen carefully to
audiences and deliver exciting, new spaces that
follow trends. The GA experience in stadia is
ever-improving, with owners and rights holders
attracting people earlier. Consequently, the gap
between hospitality and ticket-holder facilities
– ticket plus – is reducing. Entry-level hospitality
needs to compete with this space to ensure GA
upgrade into hospitality. Stadia that don’t keep
up will see a trade down into GA.
BD: Ingress and egress need improvement at
many stadia. I’d like to see more parking spaces,
an allowance of premium tailgating and more
elevators. Luxury is defined not so much by
price, but as service and experience.
RW: With the move towards more experiential
environments, the traditional box and white-
linen restaurants are showing their age. These are
environments you don’t see now on the high street.
There’s still a place for more formal environments,
but they must be part of a consolidated hospitality
package that appeals to a wider cross-section.
How do new food and drink trends
affect how you work? And what do
you think is the next big trend?
RK: New demographics are attending sports events and
they want to share experiences online. We have to be
flexible to accommodate new ideas. For example, the
market is looking for hospitality that is more sociable.
We are considering how to increase dwell time and
create packages that attract more families and females.
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