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programme. “An off-site activity plus interest equals reward. When planned properly, that same reward can derive exponential value prior to, during and post event.” Kate Stone, Senior Event Managerat

Awesome Events, says that for big groups, sports stadiums are a real boon. “As there are only a limited number of venues in London that can seat 1,000-plus guests on banqueting tables, the stadiums are a great alternative to the usual hotels.” She gives an example of the way one

company used this to great effect. “Last year, which was a time of great sporting celebration in the UK, our client wanted to embrace the use of Wembley Stadium as an iconic sporting venue. At lunchtime, delegates were given special hot packed lunches that allowed them to leave the Bobby Moore suite and go out on to the terraces to see the pitch, eat alfresco and have pictures taken. “After lunch, the production team

transformed the room for team-building activities, but utilised all the pre-rigged conference set, staging, lighting and projection equipment that had been specially brought in. The activities were centred on sports and the Olympics, including a pub-style quiz, with questions specifically relating to the history of the event.” At renowned sporting venue Twickenham,

Simon Mills, Head of Sales & Marketing at the Twickenham Experience, is also of the opinion that there is a definite appetite among bookers to move away from the traditional confines of a hotel for meetings and events. “More and more brands are requesting

to use sporting venues as they have a huge ‘wow’ factor, which is sure to encourage greater delegate numbers and interest,” he comments. “Companies have started to realise that sporting stadiums offer something that most city centre venues can’t match –a variety of different size spaces, ample free parking and an iconic location guaranteed to draw a crowd.” He describes Twickenham thus: “It’s a globally recognised brand to which companies wish to ally their corporate message. From captains of industry to captains on the pitch, it is an inspiration machine that allows guests to experience events that live long in the memory.” As well as the comprehensive selection of facilities on offer – the venue provides around 7,000 square metres of integrated space, including a state-of-the-art auditorium with tiered seating for up to 550 delegates – there is another important aspect for corporate clients to take into consideration.


revamped our entire hospitality offering by launching menu tastings for all seasonal hospitality ticket holders, welcoming a new chef and our first in-house pastry chef, as well as opening new areas for seasonal hospitality. “We’ve also developed our facilities for business and leisure guests alike – our new music venue, Under the Bridge, recently celebrated its first birthday; we’ve refurbished Centenary Hall overlooking the pitch, and opened a new football museum that is the largest in London. Plus, the Delta 360˚ Lounge, an airline-inspired executive lounge that can be used as part of a hospitality package on match days, has now opened at the on-site Millennium & Copthorne Hotel.” For ways to make a day extra-special,


Hunter advises using the venue to maximum advantage. “You can book our mascot, Stamford the Lion, to welcome guests to conferences, or add in a stadium tour for your group. It will save both time and money (not to mention transport costs) to include as much as you can within one location.” He also suggests that those organising


corporate events look out for added extras such as gifts for guests on match days and games where visitors might be treated to special catering. Another perennial favourite for sporting





The stadium is owned by the Rugby Football Union, a not-for-profit organisation that invests its income in both grass roots rugby as well as the national side. This means that any event held at Twickenham will make an important legacy contribution, be it in terms of contributing to the salaries of regional rugby development coaches helping school kids keep active, or providing support for the England team in their journey to the World Cup in 2015. Both of these make interesting propositions for any company looking to enhance its CSR (corporate social responsibility) reputation. The three things to look out for at a sporting venue are facilities,

service and food, according to Chelsea FC’s Head of Venue and Brand, Simon Hunter. He explains what Chelsea has been doing to ensure its offering remains front of mind for companies looking to organise a sporting hospitality event. “In the last year we’ve

hospitality is Lord’s cricket ground. Louise Smith, PA to the UK investment team at Resolution Real Estate Advisers, recently organised an event there. “My boss is a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club, so choosing Lord’s as a venue to entertain our clients was an obvious choice,” she comments. “Two years ago, the company held a day out at the Captain’s Table and last year we chose the Nursery Pavilion, so even at the same location you can enjoy a different experience. Using the pavilion meant the group could watch the players train before the match, which was an added bonus,” she notes. Smith also highlights the business benefits of using the venue. “It’s such a relaxed atmosphere there, it’s really conducive to the kind of informal networking we were aiming for. Entertaining clients in such a unique setting makes for a highly memorable day.” Even those who don’t have access

to huge hospitality budgets can take heart. As Sporting Agenda’s Ed James puts it: “It isn’t always the obvious events that have the biggest impact – it is the way they are presented that will linger in the memory.” ●

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