ALSD International: The lowdown on EMEA’s leading event for the Premium Seat & Hospitality sector

As ALSD International counts down to its evolution into a 365 community to enable year-round engagement and prepares to announce details for the 2022 event, hear about the key learnings, developments and more from the 2021 edition of the industry’s leading conference and exhibition for the Premium Seat & Sports Hospitality sector, hosted by Liverpool Football Club.

Following an unprecedented 18 months, the 2020/21 hybrid edition of ALSD International was finally able to proceed at Liverpool FC’s iconic Anfield Stadium back in September, with some 200+ industry executives registered from across the UK, Europe and wider afield; the majority of whom attended in person. 

As the only conference and exhibition dedicated to the Premium Seat & Sports Hospitality sector outside of North America, those in attendance benefited from insights and key learnings from leading industry experts on increasing revenue through New Builds, Renovations and Service Expansions, especially through niches including Architecture & Design, Catering & Concessions, Fan Experience, Hospitality, Premium Seating, Sponsorship, Technology and Rebuilding & Recovery. 

The event also provided a much-needed opportunity to network and engage with peers on the challenges, what’s worked, and what hasn’t, and how the industry can move forward in these challenging times. 

Proceedings commenced with a behind-the-scenes tour of M&S Bank Arena Liverpool within the ACCL Campus, and a breakfast networking event, sponsored by Sodexo, before delegates were transported to Anfield’s Main Stand, ready for the conference and exhibition to commence.

High-level conference

During the course of the conference, some 40+ top-calibre industry executives took on subjects including:

The Future of Premium Seating

Rebuilding & Recovery

The Future of Hospitality

How to Optimise ROI

Delivering an Enhanced Fan Experience

The Big Event: How to Maximise Your Value

Join Our Club: Become a Club Member, Not Just a Hospitality Buyer

Stadiums of the Future

Maximising Sponsorship Activation

The Transformation of Anfield

In addition, Euroleague Basketball ran a panel session, focused on the challenges of the last 1.5 years and how the League and its clubs, including FC Bayern and Zalgiris Kaunas, have worked to keep fans, sponsors and stakeholders engaged, while Rob Hunden, President, Hunden Strategic Partners, outlined what facilities are going up around the world, trends in different sports and facility types, and added new research that piqued attendees attention.

Click on each topic subject to watch the panel session in full or go to:

Keynote speakers

Highlights from ALSD International 2021 included keynotes from Nick Sautner, Chief Executive Officer, Eden Park Stadium, who discussed “Transformational Change to Deliver Greater Utilisation” and Andy Hughes, Managing Director of Liverpool FC, who kicked off day two with an overview of the club and recent developments.

Andy highlighted the club’s journey on and off the pitch, from their recent Premier League title to significant infrastructure improvements, including the state-of-the-art AXA Training Centre and opening the new Main Stand, taking Anfield to the next level.

Andy summarised that:

Football is the priority but getting our football facilities right was also a critical priority… It was highly complex delivering world-class sporting facilities in a unique and special building.

The client and design team, including Liverpool FC Vice President, Stadium Operations, Paul Cuttill, KSS Associate Director, Debbie Power and 20.20 Ltd Creative Director Jon Lee, presented the detail behind the “Transformation of Anfield”. Focusing on the commercial redevelopment of the Main Stand that began in 2012 to the future of the Anfield Road Stand, which secured planning this year and has recently started on site, with completion due for 2023.

Expert speakers

The event featured more than 40 top-calibre industry expert speakers, including:

Alan Gilpin, CEO, World Rugby

Jon Dutton, CEO, Rugby League World Cup 2021

Guy Dunstan, Managing Director, Ticketing & Arenas, NEC Group

Rob March, Director of Commercial, Chester Race Group

Rob Paddon, Director Venue Sales, Fulham FC

Fabian Fischer, Chief Business Officer, FC Bayern

Becci Thomson, Head of Premium Sales, Co-op Live

Chris Maddison, Commercial Director, Delaware North

Megan Ashfield, Principal, Populous

Franco Segarra, Innovation Director, Valencia CF

Nils Braude, Managing Director, Twickenham Experience/The RFU

Andy Muggleton, Commercial Director, Marylebone Cricket Club/Lord’s

Nick Marshall, Director, KSS

Tom Lynch, Group Commercial Director & Senior VP, Europe, ASM Global

Oliver Wright, Head of Hospitality & Sales, Everton FC

Danny Macklin, CEO, Leyton Orient

Sponsors & exhibitors

Sponsors and exhibitors included Bleep UK PLC, Bosch Rexroth/StadiaPitch, Elevate Sports Ventures, Global Payments Inc., Ferco Seating, Forum by Nowy Styl, Hunden Strategic Partners, iXpole, Insitual/Daplast Seating, KAPPTURE, KSS, Populous, Qualflow Systems, SEATSERVE, Sports Travel & Hospitality (STH Group), Smart Buffet Ware, Tiger Hotel, YEGAM, Sodexo, SwipeStation, Terraplas, Triple Jump Technologies, Ungerboeck, Vector Foiltec, Venue Twin by OnePlan Events and Zapaygo.

Highlighting the success of the event, entities including Elevate Sports Ventures, Ferco Seating, KSS, Terraplas, Zapaygo and Ungerboeck have confirmed their intention to exhibit/sponsor the 2022 edition, with Triple Jump Technologies already confirmed as a major event sponsor.

Networking & venue tours

At the close of the plenary sessions on Day 1, attendees were first taken on a special, behind-the-scenes tour of Liverpool FC’s Anfield Stadium, before alighting coaches to travel to the other side of Stanley Park, for an unforgettable networking event at Everton’s Goodison Park, which also included a stadium tour showcasing some of the concepts being trialled ready for the New Everton Stadium, and again sponsored by Sodexo.

Attendees were treated to behind-the-scenes tours of Everton’s Goodison Park and M&S Bank Arena Liverpool

With networking a vital part of the sports & entertainment industry, especially after 18 months of virtual meetings, attendees were delighted to learn that ALSD International is taking a leaf out of its US counterparts book and transforming into a 365 community, with members able to engage and knowledge-share with peers year-round from January 1, 2022 onwards.

NB: The 2022 dates and venues are due to be announced in the coming weeks. If you would like to be kept informed or want to secure your place, email:

Stellar Advisory Board

As part of this evolution, we are delighted to welcome on board a stellar Advisory Board, who will be discussing the latest challenges facing the sector, in addition to innovations, best practices, and developments, as well as taking on member questions during their quarterly meetings, which will be made available on-demand.

Advisory Board members confirmed to date include:

Charlene Nyantekyi, General Manager, Club Wembley, The FA

Andy O’Sullivan, Venue Director, Tottenham Hotspur

Une Marija Jurkstaite, Chief Business Officer, Zalgiris Kaunas

Franco Segarra, Innovation Director, Valencia CF

Milos Nenadovic, Senior Manager, Business Operations, Euroleague Basketball

Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO, The Odyssey Trust

George Vaughan, Head of Technology, Ascot Racecourse

Nils Braude, Managing Director, Twickenham Experience/The RFU

Becci Thomson, Head of Premium Sales, Co-op Live

Nick Sautner, Chief Executive, Eden Park Stadium, New Zealand

Matt Botten, Senior Director, Premium Sales, The O2

James Bisgrove, Commercial & Marketing Director, Rangers FC

Ben Johnson, SVP Strategy & Commercial Development, SailGP

Tom McCann, Venue Director, Arsenal

Jerome Mazet, Head of Commercial & Marketing, Etihad Arena

Stephanie Bax, Managing Director, CAA ICON

Rob Paddon, Director Venue Sales, Fulham

James Bisgrove, Commercial & Marketing Director, Rangers

To become a member or to enquire about joint ALSD/ALSD International membership, email:

Key takeaways

Andy Rice, COO, Major Events International, reported the five key takeaways from the event as follows:

Speaker – Nick Sautner, CEO, Eden Park. Key Summary points & advice to sports venues:
  • Leverage the power of your brand through the experience economy
  • Embrace the community as an anchor – (Eden Park changed this issue from a challenge to an asset through consultation)
  • Be flexible, but do not change your core fundamental values
  • Embrace Innovation, and creativity
  • Be strategic, but remain authentic. Do not innovate to compromise your DNA.
Hospitality: Opportunity is burgeoning… the secret is:

Speakers – Rob Paddon, Director Venue Sales, Fulham FC, Rob March, Commercial Director, Chester Racecourse, Guy Dunstan, Managing Director, Ticketing & Arenas, NEC Group and Lisa Knights, Group Head of Communications, Ashton Gate Stadium/Bristol Sport

  • Multiple options catering for a wide range of price points
  • Adding an experience to achieve premium pricing
  • Move towards informality; what do you do with someone wearing £500 trainers?!
  • Move away from boxes to more flexible spaces; benefit of broader networking and greater ‘ambience’
Rebuilding and Recovery

Speakers – Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO, The Odyssey Trust (board member the European Arenas Association and Co-Founder, Arena Resilience Alliance), Steve McArdle, Director, Bleep UK PLC and Caroline McEleney, Managing Director, The Aspire Group

  • Your venue should now be safer, smarter, quicker to serve your fans, and you should have an understanding of the value of your data.
  • Fans have a greater appetite to spend…but expectations are higher
  • Don’t under-estimate the importance of training your staff
  • Any change should be endemic: not be imposed by the board, but developed in collaboration with the broader team- in order to secure full buy in.
  • Technology is important, but it’s the people that create the culture.
  • Don’t forget to accommodate different generations, not just for comms, but also for food choices
  • Focus on the ‘why’ not the ‘how’
  • New Customer Experience= Mandatory Requirements + Employee Training

Lessons from EuroLeague Basketball

Speakers – Fabian Fischer, CBO, FC Bayern and Une Marija Jurkstaite, CBO, Zalgiris Kaunas, with moderator, Milos Nenedovic, Senior Manager, Business Operations, EuroLeague Basketball

  • Don’t outsource ticket sales – do it yourself – the culture is better
  • Create a ‘Business Circle’ B2B networking to drive ticketing and sponsorship sales (potentially restrict to hospitality clients)
  • Sacrifice poor sited seats for hospitality options
  • Give people reasons to come to your venue early – broader entertainment offering
Teching up

Speakers – Ben Wells, CCO, PTI – Franco Segarra, Innovation Director, Valencia FC and Patrick McMeekin, UK Licensee, SEATSERVE 

  • Become a marketing organisation, not a sales organisation
  • Data is useless without smart tools and smart people to analyse it
  • Digital ordering increases the size of the basket
  • Digital can extend the event experience pre and post the match day
  • Use your data to find out what people want, not to try to sell them what you have
  • Don’t be seduced by vanity matrix. What is real ROI?
  • Don’t iterate: effective digital change really requires an holistic revolution

What the industry has to say

To follow, are a selection of quotes from the 200+ attendees to give you a snap shot of ALSD International 2021: 

Jon Dutton, Chief Executive, Rugby League World Cup 2021:

Very nice to be asked to contribute to the ALSD International conference in Liverpool. Congratulations to Katie McIntyre on bringing people together – my first physical event since March 2020. Well done to Andy Rice for hosting a hybrid panel with aplomb.

Jill Nicholson, Sales Manager, Hampden Park:

Fantastic couple of days in Liverpool attending ALSD International and catching up with some familiar faces while also meeting new ones.

Lisa Turton, Head of Sales & Hospitality, first direct arena, ASM Global:

Had a great two days at ALSD International in Liverpool. Some great sessions and amazing venue hospitality. Nice to meet new and old connections.

Roy Yaoz, CCO, Triple Jump Technologies:

After two years of working from home and speaking to people via video calls it was great to meet colleagues and share experiences and ideas in our ever changing industry at The ALSD event at Liverpools’ Anfield Stadium in September.

The event focus of premium seats and spaces presents a unique opportunity for all attendees to discuss concepts, challenges and opportunities in greater detail.

We at Triple Jump Technologies found the 2 days very interesting, full of exciting debates and are looking forward to taking part again next year as Sponsors of the event.

Ben Wells, Chief Commercial Officer, PTI Digital:

I enjoyed ALSD International hugely: not only was the content of the highest order but the break out spaces enabled effortless networking and sharing of ideas. The social side of industry events is often overlooked but I would recommend ALSD International very highly.

Caroline McEleney, Managing Director – Aspire Europe, The Aspire Group Inc:

It was great to be invited to speak on one of the panel sessions at the ALSD International event and actually spend time networking with people instead of zoom! It was a good opportunity to share the changes that lockdown has created and how we should be assessing our businesses to adapt to those changes. A well-run event with great attendance.

Victoria Matthews, Certified Customer Experience Professional, SEMA 4 Consulting:

The Arena Resilience Alliance presented ideas on rebuilding and recovery at the ALSD conference at Anfield Stadium on Monday. Many thanks to Katie McIntyre and the ALSD team for organising – it was great to be back at a live conference and at such an impressive venue.

Samara Mezher, Experiential Strategy Director, Forward Associates:

A big thank you to Katie McIntyre and ALSD International for organising such a great event at Liverpool Football Club. Also a big thank you to Ben Williams for the tour of the M&S Bank Arena Liverpool, to Oliver Wright for a tour of Goodison Park and for the team at Liverpool Football Club and KSS Design Group for a tour of Liverpool Football Club – Anfield Stadium. It was great to see industry friends from Sodexo, The Football Association, TWICKENHAM EXPERIENCE LTD, Triple Jump Technologies Ltd, BLUEROCK Sports & Entertainment to name a few. It was also great to meet so many new people. A very special thank you to Roy Yaoz, Roy Westwood, Nils Braude and Andy Muggleton for a great panel discussion.

Nicolas Claquin, Business Developer, iXpole:

This trip has been the occasion to learn more about the future of hospitality. Here are five rising key trends: Demand for more flexible offers; On-demand packages; Rise of enhanced general admission (or GA+); More personalised experiences; and Hospitality seats share increasing. And digital transformation will definitely play a big part in it! Automated systems and centralised operations will be key to tackle those new challenges.

This has also been the occasion to visit iconic places of Premier League and of English football: Anfield, home of Liverpool Football Club and Goodison Park for Everton Football Club (Thank you again Oliver Wright for the tour). Can’t wait for the next edition Katie McIntyre!

Gemma Wylie, UK Managing Director, SwipeStation:

What an awesome couple of days at the ALSD International event at the home of Liverpool Football Club. Great people, fantastic speakers and even better food; I’m not sure what was better – the Lamb Scouse or the Arranchinis at Everton Football Club. A big thanks to the team at Anfield for being such a fantastic host venue and to Katie McIntyre and the rest of the ALSD team for organising such a great event.

Gard Valckx, International Business Developer, Bundeling:

Fantastic and well cared for event by ALSD International at the Anfield Stadium from Liverpool Football Club and Goodison Park from Everton Football Club. My first ever in-person event since starting at Bundeling over one year ago. What a great experience with lots of interesting speakers, great insights, and network opportunities – all the ingredients for a successful event. Thanks to Katie McIntyre from ALSD International, all the partners, and everyone who attended the event. I hope for many more events to come in the future!

ALSD International delivers an annual conference & exhibition, in addition to a 365 community, with the focus to increase revenue through New Builds, Renovations & Service Expansions, via innovations in niches including Premium Seating & Hospitality, Architecture & Design, Fan Experience and Technology.

The 2021 hybrid edition was hosted by Liverpool Football Club and featured a high-level conference, an exhibition showcasing industry-leading products & services, as well as networking events at Everton’s Goodison Park and M&S Bank Arena. The 2022 event will be announced in the coming weeks!

#ALSDInternational – Europe’s leading event for the Premium Seat & Sports Hospitality sector

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