How Wembley is silencing stadium critics in the corporate events industry
Purpose built, functional, iconic and incredibly cost affective for events…yet sporting venues in the UK often get overlooked, tarred with negativity, or even worse are put forward as the offensive ‘Wild-Card’ venue.
These are venues with owners, operators and team members who solely work to create incredible experiences for large audiences in venues that excite each guest that walks through the door. Outdated opinions on sporting venues continue to be proven wrong as these giants grow out of the ground into world class conferencing venues offering something truly different.
Driving on its world-famous entertainment calendar as well as sport, Wembley Stadium works with its corporate event owners to ensure content and event theme is geared to reflect the status of the venue the delegates are in.
Michael Simmons, business development manager at Wembley Stadium has highlighted how sporting venues have adapted and are now a key feature in the corporate event diary:
“A really common misconception on stadia event space is that the venue is geared towards what matchday guests see on a concessions level. Having worked across various sporting venues, I’ve spent years battling against the usual ‘lost enquiry’ feedback of ‘the client doesn’t like football’, ‘we wanted somewhere with a nice catering offering’ and ‘we don’t want to get kicked out for a matchday’.
“Modern stadia are totally different to the bygone era of clubhouse branded carpets with sausage and chips for lunch. We’re a major event venue. As with other stadia in the UK, we take careful measures to hint towards our iconic event stature and history; while maintaining a premium working space that has all of our guests reverberating with the sense of being somewhere significant.
“Catering at sporting venues is usually the first revelation moment for hesitant event bookers who tend to stick with the ‘safe’ conference or hotel venue. We’re not serving our guests the matchday concession meals from the concourse. In fact, conference and dinner guests at stadia find themselves dining from menus collated by some of the most recognised culinary experts in the country. We’re fortunate to have Harry Lomas MBE at the helm. Often found on Saturday Kitchen Live or talking about his time delivering state ceremonial functions for the Royal Household, Harry works with all of our event owners to deliver sustainable food experiences for their guests.
“While all sporting venues have the challenge of match days interfering with their corporate calendar, their sales teams are now strategic in when they offer particular dates; pulling on their experience of cup runs and midweek fixtures. Wembley is incredibly lucky that without a regular team here, we have a clear overview of our major event calendar. We’re in a position to offer out whole months to corporate bookers including September 2020.
“Where Wembley, Ricoh Arena, London Stadium and most other sporting venues succeed is the limitless functionality and interchanging space that event owners have at their disposal. Pitch facing corporate suites provide purpose-built spaces for boardroom meetings, training, team away days and job interviews – all with inspiring views across the most famous acres of grass in the country. Try and replicate that in a conference or hotel room.
“Alongside smaller spaces, sporting venues tend to offer large syndicates alongside large plenaries, meaning an event owner can rely on these types of venues to house all elements of an event – or begin adding additional space as and when events grow post-contract.
“It’s because of this that sporting venues become trusted allies for event bookers. We’re iconic, have endless options of use and provide incredible guest experiences. Stadia are largely a reliable and functional resource that brings out an excitement in guests that instils a feeling of ‘I am somewhere special’.”