On May 6th, 2021, Nova Hospitality Club held its second event of the semester, being the topic discussed “Hospitality winning the game in sports events”.
In the first half of the event, the club presented some key indicators of the sports event industry, including market growth, revenue structure, fan segmentation and new trends in hospitality in sports, enlightening the audience with relevant information for the panel discussion that followed. The current situation suggests that there is room for the industry to further grow in the future, motivated by which the club decided to invite two invitees who work in leading positions in the field to shed some light on the matter.
Following the presentation, a panel composed by the two invited experts gave their view on the subject. The first question asked was about how has focusing on new hospitality concepts impacted the invitees‘ company strategy.
Keith Bruce, President at QuintEvents International, believes that the COVID-19 pandemic represented a crucial point in restructuring hospitality in sports events, as most live events were transformed into Zoom meetings. As such, the way these brands engage with the fans have also changed as it turned increasingly important to provide next level experiences at a digital level and reinvent the fan experience. The focus is to understand what is important to the customer and to drive them into participating in sports at a hospitality level. For fans to elevate their experience, they shall be able to do and see thing besides sitting in a stadium. By implementing premium experiences and personalized opportunities, Keith believes that companies could charge as much as an average of 50% higher than they would for a regular ticket.
"By implementing premium experiences and personalized opportunities, event companies could charge as much as an average of 50% higher than they would for a regular ticket." says Keith Bruce, president at QuintEvents International.
Guilherme Pinto, Managing Partner at Bearsu Consulting, started by referring to an experiential project that he participated in in which a fan could sit with players that would give them idea of tactics for the game. As such, similarly to Keith, he also thinks that premium experiences are becoming increasingly popular as it is important to expand the fan journey and start to tap into different experiences; nowadays fans are starting to be more interested on tickets that provide them accommodation (for e.g.) instead of just a ticket to a seat in the stadium.
The second question asked to our guests was about how they would forecast hospitality to shape the sports events industry in the future and whether digital innovation will pose opportunities or threats to hospitality sports experiences.
Keith Bruce stated that opportunities emerge if things are done right. Digital will allow to expand the range of experiences. However, digital will never replace live events as the fans gathering personally entails a feeling that can not be delivered virtually, but it can help make the fans ‘experience better, specially by having better communication tools and understanding what the customers ‘needs are. Eliminating paper ticket and delivering everything in the phone will become more popular as it is a faster for the fans to have that type of information at their fingertips.
Communicating with fans through apps will also improve fans‘ experience and help companies, for example event operators. A research conducted in January along 4000 F1 fans showed thar 85% would be willing (or at least consider) to come back to live sports events this year as they want to do more than just sit at home and watch the events from a mobile device. As hospitality venues in stadiums are safe places, 35% would consider a hospitality ticket over a regular ticket because of COVID.
In the other hand, Guilherme believes that it also poses threats. For example, for a pub next to a stadium, digital innovation might come as a threat as you don´t need to be at the stadium hours before nor buy your ticket in the queue. As such, there is evolution whenever the digital allows you too (ex: go to Gate B that has less people waiting) and for the experiential fan, digital innovation might be beneficial, as the processes should run easier and faster.
"Digital innovation poses threats to some parts of the environment of sports events. As the experience is made smoother for fans, businesses like pubs next to stadiums might come across as threatening." says Guilherme Pinto, Managing Partner at Bearsu Consulting.
In the second part of the event, there was an audience discussion for the same topics concluding that attendees would be willing to pay as much as 40% higher to have a more personalized and emotional experience and that hospitality sport experiences are not only for VIP´s/luxury segments. According to Keith Bruce, the multiples paid by customers for extraordinary experiences if compared to normal ones are a lot higher than the 40%, mentioned, as especially millennials are often keen on having a very high spent to, for example, enjoy a F1 race next to a legend of the sport. The event concluded with a discussion concerning work experience in the field. To many students, independently of them being or not passionate about sports, hospitality experiences in these fields are considered as highly interesting fields to work in, and the invitees argued that graduates with a good business understanding could pursue a very interesting career within this industry.