HOSPITALITY54 . www.conference-news.co.uk . March 2012 It is now better for the company books to show that, rather than give a huge bonus to top performing staff; they are given an experience of a lifetime. The more pressurised the workplace has become, the more hospitality is being brought to big events.It's hard to believe, but in the late 80s football was deemed as downmarket, but with the advent of the Premiership, stadia boxes and suites being refurbished to a fi ve-star degree, the appeal was quickly noted by the corporate market and now stockbrokers have boxes at Premier League Clubs.Rugby Union has always had an enduring appeal, particularly with professionals. The Six Nations is now the most popular event in the calendar and southern hemisphere teams now come over here a lot. What has changed here? Financial institutions prefer a much subtler approach. Branding and sponsorship is almost unheard of, previously you couldn't move for it, hospitality is now not about showing off, it's about being discreet. Tennis has shown no signs of slowing down. Heavy investment by the All England Club with the roof over the Centre Court and upgrades to many other facilities has ensured that the product is contemporary and relevant to today's market and the demanding high end customers, hence its ability to retain its price threshold. Horse racing has probably changed the most. It is the perfect event for hospitality for the simple way that the day is organised. Something different happens every 30 minutes (another race!). There are periods of action: the races, interspersed with eating and drinking, interspersed with chatting, discussion and exploring the facilities. It's perfect for getting to know your guests without being too distracting. The National Hunt Festival (Cheltenham), the Grand National, Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood have not lost their appeal. Interestingly the fi nancial institutions no longer covet the high profi le outside their facilities that they used to, as they don't like to be seen spending money. Racing has great appeal to couples and is good for logistics, distribution companies and manufacturers. The smaller races should not be forgotten because they provide a cost effective way to entertain and are perfect for local businesses.Polo also has an enduring appeal, with the Cartier being the highlight of the calendar. The Hurlingham event, launched a few years ago, is also popular being on a smaller pitch with faster rules. Golf, like cricket works as a hospitality event. Very good for bonding with plenty of client time, but not one to get wrong. It would be a long day. Cricket has really seen reinvention since England dramatically won the Ashes in 2005. Cricket's 20/20 has also widened its appeal and is more accesible.So what is new? American Football is defi nitely seeing resurgence. Popular back in the 80s, it's become fashionable again in the last three years and American league matches are now played over here, making it real for British fans. On the concert scene record sales taking a dive has given way to top bands getting on the road to make some money. The big stadia including Wembley and, of course, the O2 are seeing a huge demand for top price tickets and boxes. On the other side musicals are also making a comeback and bespoke events are also on the rise with organisers looking for 'something new.'Is hospitality as dead as the economy feels? No, it's not. There is still very much a place for hospitality; It's how it is being used that is changing. It's not about the show, it's about the right perception and the right investment these days. Mansfi eld Traquair in Edinburgh hosted a gala dinner for a well known tyre manufacturing company
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