Fans officially returning to sporting events is great news, not just for the sport clubs and their partners as businesses, but for the fans who have been desperate to be in the stands supporting their passion. Alongside this, sporting hospitality will also be making its return, with audience capacities likely to increase in line with the Government’s roadmap on 19 July.
When thinking about hospitality experiences, it is easy to conjure images of champagne and canapes. Yet the impact of hospitality can reach far beyond just positive memories for those that have booked an all-inclusive sporting experience, it also effects positive change throughout communities at a local, national and international scale. In fact, many sporting venues that we work with offer hospitality convert profits from tickets, hospitality and merchandise into charitable donations.
An official experience with many of the UK’s top events not only guarantees that everything from the ticket and seating location, the food, beverages and gameday service levels are the highest quality possible. It also means ticket holders can be certain that part of the cost of their booking is re-invested back into the sport at a grassroots level and to support individuals in need.
A prime example is the KIA Oval, home to Surrey County Cricket Club. A hospitality package at this historic venue contributes to the Club’s Community program. As well as placing a strong emphasis on supporting the local community, the program is also dedicated to developing grassroots cricket, particularly in Surrey and south London. It is committed to making programs in the local area accessible to people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities.
Like many local led initiatives, grassroots sport has faced a crisis during the pandemic. Outside of occasional PE lessons (where possible) many children have had little or no access to physical sport for much of the last year. As such, switching these funding lifelines back on and getting young people engaged in sport again is sorely needed.
As well as grassroots sport, revenues from hospitality also feed into important charitable initiatives, like the RFU Injured Players Foundation. The charity offers support and provides information to rugby players who have suffered a catastrophic spinal cord or traumatic brain injury which has resulted in permanent disability whilst playing rugby in England at any level and at any age. The support is available to help players through recovery, rehabilitation, and for the rest of their life. The Injured Players Foundation also provides family members, clubs and teammates with the information and support following such incidents, particularly in relation to how they can help the player with their recovery or adjustment to a new life.
It’s important to note that the good hospitality generates extends beyond our own shores. In addition to supporting local and national initiatives at home, The Wimbledon Foundation’s joint project with Magic Bus in India uses tennis to help teach children living in marginalized communities in Delhi why education and health are so important in creating a sustainable future out of poverty. The Wimbledon Foundation’s contribution is also supporting a Livelihood Center in Nangloi, Delhi. The Center provides 18 to 25-year-olds with training and support to help them move into sustained employment, further education or access career-based training.
The return of hospitality will be seen by many as ‘nice to have’, but not essential given the magnitude of the global pandemic. But, hospitality has an impact far beyond the restaurants, bars, or indeed, stadia that form part of our offering. So, there are many reasons why the return of hospitality guests is one to look forward to.