Comment: Hospitality and South Africa 2010

Sport Business News

There were fears before the 2010 FIFA World Cup and now it is becoming a reality, writes Daniel McLaren. Attendances at some of the games have been lower than expected and the blame is being firmly laid at the doorsteps of corporate, foreign and government ticket holders.

FIFA is said to be pleased with the overall attendances, which are slightly higher than at the same stage in Germany in 2006. But some of the figures are being disputed as games that have been declared sell outs, just four of the first 11 games, despite empty seats and boxes clearly visible to those attending. "We have made some group sales to large organisations and companies, but some ticket holders have not come. We are not talking about unsold tickets, we are talking about sold tickets which have not been occupied, " said a FIFA spokesman. "What we have realised in our investigations is that some ticket holders, including international ticket holders, have not turned up. We clearly recognise this [the empty seats] but you have to recognise the bigger picture. It's not nice to see empty seats in a stadium but the attendances are good. "Sales of general tickets have been hampered by a lack of internet access among locals and a lack of football culture amongst the more affluent white population but the global recession has also had an impact on the sale of corporate hospitality packages, which have been a great source of income for host countries in the past. Leading international corporate hospitality provider PROSKE group's head of sports, Andreja Wieser, said: "Without doubt the economic downturn has had an impact on the sale of hospitality seats reserved for corporations and sponsors at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The result of this will be that more unsold tickets will go back onto the open market. In such cases, the demand for lower end hospitality will be higher. The economic downturn has affected people's perceptions of hospitality. Corporations and sponsors have become more cautious about buying hospitality packages, programmes or tickets. At the same time, people's perceptions on whether to accept hospitality invitations or not have changed, too. The last thing that people want to see in times of downturns is spending unnecessary money. Corporate decision makers look harder to see whether the use of hospitality is justifiable and ensure that there is no over–indulgence. In times of recession, companies want to ensure that high costs for large events are a secure investment. "But Wieser believes that corporate hospitality still has a value at international sports competitions. She added: "Hospitality at major sporting events is still used as a popular marketing tool for global corporations. Major sports events such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, may continue counting on their unbowed popularity and remain an attractive platform for sponsors due to its high popularity. Sporting events have always been popular choices for corporate hospitality and can bring long term benefits. Face to face corporate hospitality is vital in developing and sustaining business relations. It is the sustainability that matters and makes the difference. "We shall see if the situation improves now we have moved into the knock–out stages but for now the site of empty boxes and seats is going to be here to stay. This story has been reproduced with the kind permission of The UK Sports Network (http://www. theuksportsnetwork. com/)About Daniel McLaren Daniel McLaren is founder of 'The UK Sports Network' and sports consultant at social media agency, Spearfish Labs. He is an experienced events professional and passionate about social media. He is a lover of all sports, a player of a few and an ardent Manchester United fan. He runs several groups on LinkedIn including The UK Sports Network and Social Media & Sport that has a total over 1, 600 members. You can follow his regular tweets on @danielmclaren or contact him at daniel@theuksportsnetwork. com. About The UK Sports NetworkThe UK Sports Network was started in November 2009 by Daniel McLaren as a means to share sports industry best practices, social media insights and the latest developments in sports. Since then almost 850 professionals from all forms of sports life have joined including clubs, NGBs, marketing, PR, media, sponsorship and many others. The UK is playing catch up when it comes to utilising the best in social media for sports professionals. The UK Sports Network plans to help everyone achieve their aims through the LinkedIn group and the UKSN website. You can read about the latest developments in sport, learn something new and comment on The UK Sports Network's views about the latest controversies. The group now has a presence on twitter (@uksportsnetwork) and Facebook as it continues to expand and grow.

Additional information