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IN FOCUS: Optimising revenue via Premium Seat offerings

ALSD International, Europe’s first Premium Seat event, is all set and ready to touchdown in London this October, with a plethora of the industry’s leading lights to provide insights as to how to maximise revenue via Premium Seat offerings.

 

The premium seat sector has evolved at a rapid pace over the last decade. Where once it would have sufficed to simply be admitted entry to a sports venues’ corporate hospitality and luxury suites, where good food and wines would be savoured, discerning customers now expect a full-package experience.

 

Across Europe, we have witnessed exponential growth in innovative initiatives and deployments of the very latest technologies; from Genting Arena becoming the first UK arena to go ‘cashless’ across its food and beverage concessions to the VIP match-day hospitality that FC Bayern Munich fans will be able to enjoy in the new Courtyard by Marriott Suite at Allianz Arena, the list goes on.

 

FC Bayern Munich fans will soon be able to enjoy the very latest in VIP/Premium experiences in the new Courtyard by Marriott Suite at Allianz Arena

 

All recently completed or planned major stadia and arena new builds and renovation/refurbishment projects encompass the latest in design, technology and experiential offerings for premium clients, with Tunnel Clubs seemingly becoming the new ‘norm’, as can now be enjoyed by guests at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium and as will be featured in Crystal Palace’s planned redevelopments at Selhurst Park. And Tottenham Hotspur’s New Spurs Stadium will feature not only a Tunnel Club but also a Michelin starred dining experience. 

 

Fact: In 1990, premium seating in the United States was a minor topic, with only 3% of seats considered ‘premium’. Today, 28 years later, premium seating in a new build is generally around 20% of the seats and often above 40% of the ticket revenue. And, in very large new builds in the NFL, premium seating often accounts for more than 50% of the revenue in a building.

 

Bill Dorsey, Chairman and Founder of the ALSD (Association of Luxury Suite Directors) based in the US, said:

The fan experience is now tied to the gentrification of these buildings. Fans simply want more. They want better food, easier parking, more comfortable seats, larger scoreboards, access to stadium clubs, access to the players and Wi-Fi is of course mandatory, with high tech for VR and AI right around the corner.

 

In the US, premium seating is everywhere. Virtually every sport has their own version, from VIP tents to tailgating, suites, club seats and even upscale restroom trailers. And it’s not just anchor sports where you’ll find these types of offerings but also at music festivals, racing events, minor league ballparks, concerts; it’s everywhere. Fans want the best access money can buy.

 

Dorsey explained:

Premium seating in the US often is sold as an annual lease. In some cases, very long term leases for new builds up to 30 years.

 

In Europe, the trend is more for one-off leases, rental leases and shared leases. Don’t look now, but the US is probably headed more towards the shorter lease terms and rental suites too. Why? Because in the age of the ‘shared economy’ – think Airbnb and Uber – under-utilised luxury assets are being re-sold. It’s a trend we see continuing.

 

The architectural component to premium seating is obvious, which logically creates all kinds of build-outs, including: Stadium clubs, sponsored spaces of all types, loge boxes and other types of premium areas.

 

Esports also have a premium component and it caters to an entirely different kind of fan. The kind who is younger and has different habits. There are now premium spaces built out for this group also.

 

Dorsey added:

I don’t think Europe is much behind the US in the premium space; although it’s more likely that how it evolves will be somewhat differently.

 

Form follows function. There are more concerts and music events at arenas in Europe than in the US, and that will create a different type of marketplace. And soccer (football) has a different pace to it and a set time. That too will create a different type of premium experience.

 

 

In regards to the latest technological advances in the premium offering, Ascot Racecourse’s new Head of Technology, George Vaughan – who was previously Senior Project Manager for The RFU at Twickenham and recently completed a visit to Japan, where he provided insights to key personnel at the Rugby World Cup 2019 (RWC19) and Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic & Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) – advised:

Technology is evolving faster than at any time previously in history and over the next 10 years, the likes of AI and machine learning will help drive the biggest transformation to our lives yet.

 

It’s no longer a question of ‘if’ but how quickly we embrace it. It already influences everything from ticketing to touchdowns and these vast concrete stadiums we encourage our fans to visit and spend their money at, need to be equipped with innovation that matches their expectations.

 

Wireless charging, intelligent wayfinding, frictionless payments, Blockchain, voice activated technologies, VR and AR engagement will all play a part in the evolution of sport – both in venue and at home – over the next decade.

 

And Vaughan is in total agreement with Dorsey when it comes to the subject of connectivity, as he explained:

As much as possible, we should be targeting the ubiquitous smartphone for things like ticketing, fan engagement, access, payments and marketing but the key requirement to meet success is connectivity.

 

Today, we can connect to Wi-Fi in our supermarkets, gyms, restaurants, airports and cinemas. However, walk into many European stadiums and the reality is very different… To the average millennial, no Wi-Fi is as bad as saying there are no toilets!

 

Someone who is adept at stadium IT migration projects, Mike Bohndiek, who worked on both Arsenal’s transition from Highbury to Emirates and West Ham’s move from Upton Park to London Stadium, said:

This market is transforming in line with the recipients expectation of technology from other walks of life. Often it is professionals in a work capacity who are consuming the premium offering – so can we offer the a ‘workspace+’ approach in stadia that can beat their office, whilst delivering an experience on the field too? This will soon become simply a cost of sale for hospitality sectors, as important as the food and beverage or seating offers. Technology, and connectivity in particular, should be considered as standard.

 

 

Andy Simons, Director at KSS – a leading sports venue design practice with a portfolio spanning from Wimbledon’s No.1 Court to Liverpool FC’s Anfield stadium expansion, and the ongoing developments at Twickenham – offers some additional areas where European clubs and venues can look to expand and evolve. He said:

In Europe, there is a huge opportunity for clubs to leverage significantly higher match-day revenue with a clever stratification of their offers. The real opportunity is to tap into the other 90% of the supporters, the General Admission (GA) market, and re-layer that to offer a Premium GA experience.

 

Bearing all of this in mind, the ALSD – organisers of the annual ALSD Conference & Trade Show, ALSD Awards and the Sports Venue Design & Build Forum, which is not only the largest but also the preeminent event for the sector, welcoming no less than 140+ exhibitors and 1,200+ participants every year – and the European Arenas Association (EAA) have teamed up to present Europe’s First Premium Seat Show, ALSD International. 

 

 

ALSD International will touch down in London this October, 11-12th, just a matter of hours before the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders prepare to do battle at the New Spurs Stadium. 

 

Being organised by the ALSD in cooperation with the European Arenas Association (EAA), and with Founding Partner, AVIXA, as well as entities like AEG on board, this is already set to be a sell-out, must-attend event for all those involved in the Premium Seat sector, with confirmed exhibitors including: Camatic Seating, Cedar Packaging, Spring, Fundraiser Sports and Verteda.

 

As Europe’s first Premium Seat event, attendees will benefit not only from a high-level, in-depth conference program, which will examine premium seating and how to increase revenue with new builds, renovations, service expansions and new food and beverage offers, but also from experiencing a showcase of the latest products and solutions that can assist in the enhancement of these areas in the exhibition hall. 

 

Better yet, the cost of registration will include not only a gift bag, but also ensure access to two networking receptions, tours of two of the capital’s key sports venues (including transport), as well as breakfast and lunch at the event venue, the luxurious Amba Marble Arch Hotel in Central London. 

 

Through the venue tours and networking receptions, attendees will benefit from invaluable opportunities to meet and discuss the trending topics with their peers, which can be invaluable to their organisation’s planning. In the panel discussions and team presentations, participants will also get to hear from who’s doing it right and, perhaps more importantly, how they’re doing it. 

 

High-end and mainstream hospitality remains a defined yet much smaller market in Europe at present, so why not join us for a conference about extending the fan experience, and offering more opportunities, both inside and outside your venue’s walls.

 

Speaking about the reasons for delivering the ALSD International event, Dorsey said:

We do not want to Americanise the premium experience in Europe. We want to let Europe be Europe. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned on both sides of the pond. However, at ALSD International, we will be bringing over some of the most successful industry executives from the US, who are adept at their craft and have delivered successful projects in this space for comparison’s sake. 

 

As for ALSD International’s stellar speaker line-up, attendees will hear success stories and How To’s from the likes of:

  • Al Guido, President, San Francisco 49ers & President, Elevate Sports Ventures
  • Bernie Mullen, Chairman & Founder, The Aspire Group, Inc.
  • Michele Kajiwara, Senior Vice President, Premium Sales & Service, STAPLES Center/AEG
  • Peter McKenna, Stadium Director, Croke Park
  • Ramón Alarcón, Director & General Manager of Business, Real Betis/Benito Villamarín Stadium
  • Julio Tárrega Díez, Director VCFplay/Head of AudioVisual, Campo de Mestalla/Valencia CF
  • Mark Kelly, Managing Director, Ashton Gate Stadium/Bristol Sport
  • Mike Bohndiek, Managing Director, PTI Consulting (formerly Head of IT, West Ham United/London Stadium)
  • George Vaughan, Head of Technology, Ascot Racecourse (previously Senior Project Manager, Twickenham/The RFU)

 

And it’s not only European venues that can benefit from attending ALSD International, as Thiago De Rose, Head of Strategic Planning at Arena Corinthians pointed out:

I believe in Brazil, we still have a long way to go. Here, we are still many steps behind Europe and the U.S., as companies still have to be educated on what are the advantages of using a Premium Seat or hospitality services.

 

Most of our suites, for example, are sold to fans that have more money and want to have an exclusive experience. What we try to do is to ‘lure’ them with priceless moments, such as visits to the warmup room, meet and greet with players after the match, participation in the ‘Halftime Challenge’ (where they can shoot a penalty or from midfield during halftime) and their favourite, the ‘Arena Challenge’, where every partner company or suite holder can assemble a team to play a tournament on our pitch after the end of the season. This way we can touch their hearts and show them that they’ll never find these kinds of things in any other place.

 

Finally, on the more technological side, we will definitely have Wi-Fi connectivity very soon in the Premium Seat areas and more services and interaction possibilities with our customers.

 

With all roads leading to London this October, make sure to secure your place at this must-attend event, simply go online TODAY and register at: www.ALSDInternational.com 

 

NB: Attendees can also avail of very specially-discounted rates at the official event hotel, the Amba Marble Arch, by entering the code: SPOR130918 

 

If you would like to discuss the opportunities to secure exhibition space &/or become an event sponsor/partner, please contact Katie McIntyre on Tel: +44 (0) 797 0712538 or email: katie@alsd.com 

 

 

About the ALSD

The Association of Luxury Suite Directors (ALSD) was established in 1990 to provide a single platform for our member teams and venues with accurate and timely information from across all layers of the premium seat industry. This network of suite directors and team/facility executives shares information and ideas to provide premium seat patrons with superior service, state-of-the-art amenities, and an overall exceptional experience.

 

About the EAA

European Arenas Association (EAA) is an international association representing 31 indoor arenas from 20 European countries. Its members operate some of the world’s most cutting edge venues. Formed in the early 1990s, EAA strives to create a common platform for the leading venues in Europe. It is committed to spreading best practice across its member arenas, to providing a forum for the discussion and development of new themes and ideas and to showcase its members’ dedication to providing a safe, high quality and unique entertainment experience for fans.

 

About AVIXA™ 

AVIXA™ (Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association) is the producer of InfoComm trade shows around the world, co-owner of Integrated Systems Europe, and the international trade association representing the audiovisual industry. Established in 1939, AVIXA has more than 5,400 members, including manufacturers, systems integrators, dealers and distributors, consultants, programmers, rental and staging companies, technology managers, IT professionals, content producers, and multimedia professionals from more than 80 countries. AVIXA members create integrated AV experiences that deliver outcomes. AVIXA is a hub for professional collaboration, information, and community, and the leading resource for AV standards, certification, training, market intelligence and thought leadership.

 

Main image (top): The Lock is one of four premium facilities launching this autumn/fall in Twickenham’s East Stand. Credit: KSS

 

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