Ever wondered what it’s all about? The glitz and glamour of entertaining clients with sports hospitality is a globally recognised strategy – but what exactly do we need to look out for when choosing a corporate sports hospitality partner?
We’ve asked the experts for their insights on the hottest trends, benefits and upcoming events to help build your business with corporate hospitality. Meet Jason, Nigel and James.
Jason Iles | Event Manager | Corinthian Sports
James Clutterbuck | CEO | Berkeley Red
Nigel Essam | Managing Director | Red Eye Events
What’re the hottest trends in sports hospitality this year?
Jason: “Experience is the key word in sports hospitality, whether it’s a simulator at the F1 or an unforgettable exclusive viewpoint from an ex F1 driver, people want something they will remember, which is built on top of the event itself. For example this year at the British Grand Prix we worked continuously to bring on board Ex Renault driver Jolyon Palmer to analyse the action on each day and give them and insight to the life of a F1 driver.In this day and age, it’s more than just a catered area at a high-profile event, guests like to have something to take away with them, whether that’s a treasured memory or something more tangible.”
James: “The trend that’s been developing for a while and will continue to develop and be the main trend in changing hospitality is the move to more informal immersive experiences. We will see a move to informal cooler contemporary environments; lounge sofas; grazing dinning; free seating; DJs and generally an environment that encourages networking in a relaxed way but still very much with an exclusive VIP feel. Many major venues like the Kia Oval have embraced this already and more are sure to follow.”
Another trend is the private experiential style event where guests instead of attending a sports event will have a go at a particular sport with a couple of legends from that sport; often at an iconic venue like Lord’s or the Olympic velodrome and then enjoy a meal and drinks afterwards with the legends. This is a highly personal event; can be branded and fitted to a client’s values and brand message.
Nigel: “It’s always of course the main event that is the key thing, which just happen to have outstanding hospitality that goes with it! Some of the new races on the F1 calendar will be ones to watch out for, in particular Miami!”
What events are you most looking forward to next year?
Nigel: “Monaco Grand Prix is arguably the best sporting event in the world, and there is no better way to experience it than from the deck of a superyacht! We have two 45m tri-deck superyachts next year, so we’re very excited!”
James: “In 2019 we are really looking forward to the Monaco Grand Prix where we have our tri deck Superyacht in prime position. Guests will join us for the weekend and enjoy a spectacularly kick-off party on the Friday night and then enjoy top class hospitality on board on Saturday and Sunday for the racing.
“Another event we are looking forward to is Wimbledon; we are currently developing a really cool package that is the opposite of the stuffy formal hospitality on offer and offer a lively party afterwards until late. Think exclusive Ibiza beach bar meets Wimbledon; of course, there will be great food and of course Pimm’s and Champagne – but this will inject some fun and create a really cool must go to venue before and after the tennis. We want it to be Wimbledon’s Amber Lounge – the VIP party that follows the F1 circuit. Watch this space!”
Jason: “Next year will see Corinthian Sports return to Monaco for what is arguably the most high profile F1 race of the year. Yachts, champagne and spectacular views of the racing are synonymous with the Monaco Grand Prix and whether viewed from a roof top terrace or a luxury yacht, our clients are guaranteed to have an experience they’ll never forget.”
What top tip would you give to businesses investing in corporate hospitality?
Jason: “It’s always important to do an event you like! If you’re not enjoying it, your clients won’t either. Think about both yourself and your audience, and make sure it’s the right fit. Going above and beyond to ensure our clients are satisfied is key to our success at Corinthian Sports. As a team it is ingrained in us that the client always comes first. We don’t just want to improve their experience on the day but ensure that from the moment they contact us we make the entire process as effortless as possible. With the majority of our clients being businesses, we want to remove any hassle or stress that can come with booking corporate hospitality. It’s imperative that our clients see a return on their investment and we recognise that ensuring their needs are met, no matter how small, is a crucial to this return.”
Nigel: “Always make sure the company has a reasonable trading history. It’s a shame, but there are a lot of companies that emerge and disappear in the industry. Try and establish how far removed the company is from the event provider. It’s always worth shopping around, because the end user very often ends up paying various levels of agent commission as the ticket goes through several companies.”
James: “For any company looking to invest in corporate hospitality there are a number of factors to weigh up. Firstly, have a clear idea of what you want to get out of an event – is it a relationship builder with existing clients, is it an opportunity to woo new clients; is it a thank you to clients for their business – or even staff? You are spending upwards of 4-6 hours with your guests; it’s important to set the tone.
“Secondly – Make sure you are booking with reputable agency – prices will vary a little across all agencies naturally – but be wary of a price that is too low – as it’s often too good to be true and you may not receive exactly what you think you are buying. There are lots of other things to consider but a good agency will offer you independent advice and guide you through all the options, so you can make an informed choice. The best tip of all? Use Berkeley Red!”
What makes you stand out when it comes to corporate hospitality?
Nigel: “Our business stands out because all of our events are white label and mainly sell out through trade partners, although we do also have retail clients. We have to ensure the events are premium quality and keep reinventing experiences because we are representing so many brands. You are only as good as your last event and above all this, clients are paying a lot of money, so ethically we need to ensure they are having the best time possible.”
Jason: “At Corinthian Sports we focus on the personal touches and this is what differentiates us from our competitors, whether that is specifically designed packages to meet a client’s needs or simply arranging a birthday cake presented at the table, we will always go the extra mile. This also includes attending events, meeting our clients and developing key relationships, in a world of emails and phone calls you still can’t beat meeting in person and sharing a coffee or a beer.”
James: “As far as events are concerned, it’s important to continue to strive to give clients something new, so that their guests will continue to accept invites; be that the design of facilities, the food or drinks on offer or keeping entertainment like speakers or other forms of entertainment within facilities contemporary. We take the view that each client is important to us no matter what they spend. Our business model supports this culture also in that each sales partner is personally invested into the success of the company; each client is important to them. Personal relationships are key; get those right and the money takes care of itself.”