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Sports & Leisure

Hospitality Masterclass: Creating Memorable Experiences

Ahead of the iSportconnect Hospitality Masterclass in association with Sodexo, Nick Byrom, Business Development Director at Sodexo Sports & Leisure, explores some of the areas that will be covered at this week’s event.

In an age of always-on digital content and entertainment, venues need to work harder to entice fans and build revenue from corporate hospitality.

Consumers expect better, more immersive experiences, whilst better insight and consumer data means that stadia should be able to respond with more tailored packages. This is increasingly being delivered in a tiered fashion, from entry level to high end. We’ll be showcasing this at the Hospitality Masterclass this week.

It is also vital that clubs and their hospitality partners respond to concerns of consumers – sustainability and a growing preference for healthier and plant-based diets key among them.

From running hospitality at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium at this year’s Super Bowl, to providing hospitality and ticketing at Japan’s Rugby World Cup, to providing fine dining at venues such as the Michelin-starred Jules Verne restaurant at the Eiffel Tower, Sodexo is a leader in running world-class hospitality. We are working jointly with our clients to make sure they deliver the right hospitality packages, in the right settings, with food and services that meet consumers needs. There is really no such as thing as a one-size-fits-all – we’re seeing a need for flexibility and offers that can be shaped around the fan-base and demographic of the venue’s consumer base.

Food and drink can serve as an important differentiator. It can elevate fan experience, support the club’s brand and help create a sense of occasion and place.

For more information on iSportconnect’s Hospitality Masterclass please follow this link - click here.

This weekend Sodexo-owned Centerplate catered for 65,000 fans at Miami’s Hard Rock stadium. Guests on the highest premium packages enjoyed imported macarons from Sodexo’s culinary centre of excellence in France, Lenotre, hand-painted gourmet bonbons in the colours of the 12 NFL teams in the playoffs, as well as stone crabs, oysters and champagne. Even the more traditional fan food was served with extra flair – doughnuts in edible glitter – to add a sense of occasion at what is the USA’s biggest game, with local flavours such as key lime pies and Cuban sandwiches celebrating Miami’s food heritage.

Closer to home, we are working with suppliers local to our clubs, to create menus that speak to regional character. At Emerald Headingley stadium in Leeds, our host venue for this week’s Masterclass our menus feature Yorkshire venison, Yorkshire rhubarb and langoustines landed in North Shields. Across the board, we are applying a common thread of simple excellence. We are increasingly finding that hospitality consumers don’t want food that is over-produced and showy; rather simple but delicious food with a strong focus on provenance and quality.

Sustainability – the impact of our food, packaging, style of service – is also something that is playing an increasing role in our offer development and support to clients. At our portfolio of world-class venues, innovations to reduce waste and robust steps towards a more sustainable future are taking centre stage. A great example is from our Ascot site, where we have worked to introduce a reusable plastic cup system, designed to vastly reduce the number of single-use plastics consumed on site.

This simple change saw one million fewer single-use plastic cups used at Ascot during 2019 compared to previous years.

Across the trends we are seeing, there is a common thread around the need for sports hospitality providers like Sodexo to work closely in partnership with their clients to understand and deliver to consumers, providing memorable experiences.

To discover more about our Sports & Leisure business, please click here.

February 04, 2020

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