Food for thought

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Corporate hospitality at sports events can provide companies and sponsors with the opportunity to entertain current and potential clients and customers and to build relationships at what can be prestigious, powerful and exciting occasions.

Hospitality is also a very important revenue stream at a major sports event–the 2007 IRB Rugby World Cup in France made £40m just through hospitality. Hospitality provides sponsors and suppliers in particular with the opportunity to showcase their contributions to the staging of events, thus enhancing their image by communicating to customers and potential customers the quality of their products and services. Dr Chris Bruton looked after hospitality during the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup for some of the event's corporate and high net worth clients through his company Hospitality in Partnership (HIP) which is part of Cavendish UK. A company was set up for the event and 28, 000 hospitality covers were filled by HIP. It subsequently won the award for best hospitality programme at the International Sports Event Management and Security conference in 2007. "In terms of how hospitality is perceived, the industry has moved on immensely, " said Bruton. "In the past it was certainly seen as a bit of a jolly and often programmes were booked on a whim. Buyers have increasingly become more sophisticated how however and event organisers understand more about who has the main rights. "What makes an event hospitality experience a good one? "It's about a lot of little things coming together correctly, " explained Bruton. "Firstly, invite guests who want to come and will enjoy it. Think about the type of event before you invite couples because some sports are more popular than others for mingling with partners. Make sure everything runs smoothly–that's much more important than the type of champagne on offer or even the quality of food. Bad signage and bad parking are the sorts of things that can get an experience off to a bad start. Make sure the staff you employ are customer–oriented. You just don't get a second chance to make a first impression so if your staff are smiling, take people's coats straightaway and generally look after people, then you are well on the way to a great day out for your guests. "Competition for the hospitality pound is getting stronger, said Bruton who is noticing more competition from other types of entertainment such as music events. "Although people will always want to come to the men's final at Wimbledon for example, other sports events are seeing a fall in demand for packages. "The above was an extract from Ultimate Sports Cities 2008, written by MEI's editorial director Rachael Church–Sanders and published by SportBusiness, priced £795. Divided into two parts, this report firstly sets out what is required of an aspiring sports city. Using interviews, case examples and leading industry experts, it uncovers the skills and experience cities need to acquire to move up the ranking. Part 2 of the report goes through the ranking in detail demonstrating why the winners were so highly placed, what some of those further down the list are doing to improve their status and those cities worldwide who are likely to make the list next time. Whether you are an aspiring Sports City or an event organiser looking to select your next location this is a comprehensive and invaluable resource. With over 180 pages of data, information, case studies, best practice examples and interviews with industry experts, Ultimate Sports Cities is more than just another report. For further details visit:http://www. sportbusiness. com/reports/166633/ultimate–sports–cities–2008

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