Research shows that new generations prefer more socially-oriented premium experiences, where they aren’t boxed in by the confines of a suite.
The premium seating market has historically been dominated by suites that provide privacy, luxury seating, enhanced food and beverage and red-carpet service. In addition, blocks of seats are often grouped together as “club seats” that are linked to larger hospitality areas.
This model has been repeated in stadiums and arenas throughout the world. As we have toured European football stadiums, we have mostly seen sameness – a ring of suites and hospitality spaces at mid-level. Often, there are not operable windows, so the guests are cut off from the sounds of the game. In suites, guests miss the opportunity to mingle and network.
Clubs, venue operators and architects understand that the so-called “premium” market should not be exclusively defined by big business and white tablecloth dining.
Increasingly, fans require better reasons to leave the comfort and convenience of their homes, and teams are looking for more sophisticated ways to encourage them to do so” (Deloitte Insights, 2019)
This isn’t to say suites are a thing of the past. However, the definition of what is a “suite” is changing, guided by flexibility and innovation.
We are also seeing stadiums and arenas converting sections with unappealing viewpoints (where suites would traditionally be located) into large group and party spaces, attracting a younger demographic and generating higher per-customer spend. Also, the marginal return-on-investment from open spaces is significantly higher because of lower construction costs.
But the most important aspect is that offering a range of premium experiences gives clubs a platform to connect with the next generation of business leaders, creatives and upwardly mobile persons.
Businesses will continue to be the main consumer of premium seating. Sports venues have and will need to continue experimenting with innovative premium seating concepts in order to keep the Millennials and Gen-Z interested in the live experience. This issue of CX Monthly provides examples of new types of clubs, suites and group spaces that are popping up in venues worldwide.