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Hospitality Viewpoint - It's Coming Home


Lack of interest in this year's international sporting events will bring more business to the domestic hospitality market, predicts Simon Gillespie of Cavendish Hospitality

ball_on_lawn.jpg Last year’s Rugby World Cup in France was a huge success, and major sporting events will continue to play an important part in the 2008 calendar. However, unlike last year’s rugby, the European Football Championships in Austria and Switzerland in June, and The Olympic Games in Beijing in August, are unlikely to have a significant impact on corporate budgets.

The failure of the England football team, or indeed any of the home nations, to qualify for Euro 2008 is a major factor, with UK corporates unlikely to be enthused by the prospect of travelling to Basel to see the likes of Switzerland play the Czech Republic. And while The Olympic Games attracts huge television audiences around the world, it has never been a big corporate draw. IOC regulations prevent an official commercial hospitality programme, which means the only companies likely to enjoy the best seats in the house are the sponsors. Factor in time away from the office to travel to Beijing, and the not insignificant cost, and you can see why the event is unlikely to attract many corporate guests.

The lack of a major international sporting event on our doorstep is likely to release budgets for domestic events. So, what have corporate guests got to look forward to this year?

There will be a new British hero to cheer on at Wimbledon, following the retirement of Tim Henman, but whether Andy Murray is ready to ‘step up to the net’ is another matter. Last year saw record hospitality numbers and it will be interesting to see whether the prospect of British success on court will further increase numbers in 2008. New hospitality facilities in the Centre Court are sure to prove an attraction, despite the cost.

Meanwhile, autumn will see the long-awaited opening of the new hospitality facilities in the South Stand at Twickenham, giving us the chance to see just what the venue will be offering.

Music-related events are increasingly popular, with the traditional ‘fans’ market showing a willingness to buy more than just a ticket. Thus, the introduction of backstage access, and even access to the artists themselves in some cases, has added to the attraction of these events.

In its first year of operation, The O2 has become the most popular venue in the world, in terms of tickets sold. The flow of top acts does not seem to be abating and corporate suite-holders are no doubt considering it money well spent, with no shortage of guest acceptances – especially when Led Zeppelin played their recent concert.

The O2 is also currently hosting the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of The Pharaohs exhibition. As part of this, a new 5,000sq ft venue, The Pharaohs’ Palace, has been created and is proving popular for corporate functions.

So, while corporate hospitality trips to international sporting events may be few and far between in 2008, this lack of interest in overseas events should guarantee that more cash is spent in the UK hospitality market. 

Cavendish Hospitality, tel: 020 8567 3530, squaremeal.co.uk/cav-hosp

This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Spring 2008.

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