Editor’s Note: This article was first published by Sports Venue Business.
ALSD International, Europe’s first premium seat event, touched down in London earlier this month, during which over 250 registered attendees networked, knowledge-shared, and did business.
The high-level attendees represented clubs and teams, stadia and arenas, sports and entertainment venues, leagues and federations, architecture and design firms, conference and exhibition centres, as well as producers and suppliers from across Europe and North America.
Attending organizations included entities such as AC Milan, AFL Architects, Altice Arena, Ascot Racecourse, AS Roma, Barclaycard Arena Hamburg, Chapman Architects, Chelsea FC, Connacht Rugby, FC Barcelona, Everton FC, Fulham FC, Goodwood, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, Harrison, KSS, Manchester City, Manchester United, NEC Arenas, San Francisco 49ers, The SSE Hydro, The Sports Consultancy, The O2 Arena Prague, Real Madrid, Scottish Event Campus, Saku Arena, and the TAURON Arena, among others.
More than 60 top-ranking industry expert speakers from across Europe and North America shared their insights and experiences during the comprehensive conference and workshop program. Industry executives included:
- Ramón Alarcón, Director and General Manager of Business, Real Betis Balompié
- Matt Botten, Senior Director, Premium Seating, The O2 Arena London/AEG
- Steve Sayer, Commercial Director, The O2 Arena London/AEG
- Ian Congdon, Head of Venue Sales, NEC Arenas
- Charlene Nyantekyi, General Manager, Club Wembley/The FA Group
- Peter van der Veer, CEO, Ahoy Rotterdam
- Shawn Doss, Vice President of Business Development, Elevate Sports Ventures
- Robbie Douek, President and Commercial Officer, RFRSH Entertainment
- Craig Flindall, COO, Warwickshire CCC/Edgbaston
- Evan Gitomer, Vice President, Team & Venue Services, Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment
- Jeroen van Iersel, Marketing Manager, Johan Cruijff ArenA
- Michele Kajiwara, Senior Vice President, Premium Sales & Service, STAPLES Center/AEG
- Mark Kelly, Managing Director, Ashton Gate Stadium/Bristol Sport
- Rich Krezwick, SVP, Facilities, AEG Europe
- Tom McCann, Head of Premium Sales, Service & Operations, Arsenal Football Club
- Peter McKenna, Stadium Director/Commercial Director, Croke Park/The GAA
- Tom Pistore, SVP, Sales and Service, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment
- Joanna Wales, Head of Operations and Events, Ascot Racecourse
Day One Behind-the-Scenes Tours
Attendees enjoyed three days of networking and doing business, including at the official Opening Reception during the evening of October 10th at the Home of Football, Wembley Stadium. The event included a special behind-the-scenes tour of a number of the iconic venue’s facilities, taking in One Twenty, The Lioness, Centre Circle, the dressing rooms, the hallowed turf, and the Players’ Tunnel, which was sporting Seahawks’ and Raiders’ branding ahead of that weekend’s NFL game.
This tour was followed by a very special networking event at The SSE Arena, Wembley, which gave the industry executives a unique opportunity to network in an informal environment, while they dined in the brand-new Empire Bar & Grill (it literally opened that day) courtesy of Levy – the event’s Platinum Sponsor.
The Day Two Program
The conference and exhibition proper got underway on the morning of October 11th, during which the stellar speaker lineup discussed topics such as “Navigating the Financial Path”, “Stadia 2.0 – Strategic Design & Innovative Upgrades”, “AV Experiences & New Business Opportunities”, “Trends & Advancements in Premium Seating”, “Leveraging Technology for Enhanced Premium Amenities & Hospitality”, “Ticketing Solution Innovations”, “Esports vs. Traditional Sports”, and “New Trends in the Experience Economy”.
During the lunch break, Al Guido, President of the San Francisco 49ers and CEO of Elevate Sports Ventures, delivered an insightful Opening Keynote Interview, alongside Don Lockerbie, Managing Director, Sports & Events Group, at The Parker Company – another of the event’s Founding Partners.
During the afternoon sessions, topics included “Staffing & Servicing the Premium Markets”, “The Basics: Selling Premium, Selling Renewals”, “Future Trends in Stadium & Venue Design”, “Successful U.S. Premium Sales & Marketing Strategies”, “Adding Value & Exclusive Access to the Traditional Premium Ticket”, “Experience Management Platforms”, “3D Virtual Reality Solutions to Deliver a Unique Buying Experience”, and “Sports & Entertainment Venue Outfitting”.
Another Venue Tour and More Entertainment
That evening, attendees first alighted a fleet of classic London buses, then boarded an MBNA Thames Clipper for a boat tour along the river – sponsored by LiveStyled and Wavework – en route to Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage, which will soon undergo a multi-million transformation of its Riverside Stand.
Another behind-the-scenes tour treated guests to Football’s One and Only Gin Bar, Season’s Wine Bar, and McBride’s Sports Bar, where attendees were treated to another food and drink extravaganza, this time courtesy of event sponsor Delaware North.
The Day Three Program
The final day featured sessions entitled “Renovate with Success: The ROI of Venue Transformations”, “Using Cutting-Edge Digital Marketing Technology with a Personal Touch to Sell Premium Seating”, “Innovations in Hospitality”, “Re-Positioning Premium in the Subscription Economy Era”, “Sales Training: Upskill – Sell More. How to Connect, Motivate, and Engage Our New Premium Seat Workforce”, “Creating a Winning Service Culture”, and “Premium Consumer Trends: Analytics, ROI, and Naming Rights”.
The program also included a “Pro Sports Super Panel: The Future of Sports Business & Live Events”, which featured moderator Bernie Mullin, Chairman and CEO of The Aspire Group, in conversation with Tyler Mazereeuw, Chief Revenue Officer of the Canadian Football League, and Jon Dutton, CEO of Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC21).
Dutton gave the Closing Keynote, during which he discussed progress on the RLWC21, set to be the biggest and best in the tournament’s history, then invited everyone to take one final look around the exhibit hall, which showcased a whole range of producers and suppliers, such as 3D Digital Venue, Camatic Seating, Cedar Packaging, Ecoprod/URIMAT, Ferco Seating, Fund Raisers Sports, IHS Global Alliance, IronHide Seating Solutions, Levy, Mondo Stadia, PanStadia & Arena Management, Portview Fit-Out, Recreational Systems Europe, Restaurant Design Associates, Smart Buffet Ware, Sports Venue Business, Stadia, SoccerLease by sgfleet, and Verteda.
ALSD International was delivered by the 29-year-old Association of Luxury Suite Directors (ALSD), in cooperation with the European Arenas Association (EAA), and Sports Venue Business (SVB). Founding Partners for this inaugural event included AVIXA (Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association), Elevate Sports Ventures, The Parker Company, and Ticketmaster, with Platinum Sponsor Levy. Other event partners included 1HUDDLE, 3D Digital Venue, Delaware North, Fund Raisers Sports, HOK, i6, LiveStyled, Metropolitan Strategies, Soccerex, Spring, and Wavework.
Here’s what the event’s attendees are saying about the inaugural ALSD International:
“We found the ALSD International conference to be incredibly informative and relevant for Connacht Rugby. Listening to some of the global leaders in premium seating sales present their experiences, networking with all the international attendees, and the behind-the-scenes tours of Wembley Stadium, The SSE Arena Wembley, and Craven Cottage all contributed to a very positive experience.”
– Brian Mahony, Head of Commercial and Marketing, Connacht Rugby
“Thrilled to have welcomed the ALSD to the Cottage last night. Deserved thanks go to Bill Dorsey, Amanda Verhoff, and Katie McIntyre for such a successful event, and to our global industry colleagues who traveled from around the world to experience and understand Fulham Football Club, the Craven Cottage experience, and the exciting future that lies ahead of us.”
– Rob Paddon, Head of Matchday Sales, Fulham FC
“Just a quick note to say well done on organising a fantastic conference, and many thanks for the invite and the opportunity to be part of a couple of sessions. I met many interesting new contacts and enjoyed the whole experience.”
– Craig Flindall, COO, Warwickshire CCC/Edgbaston
“Feeling grateful to share the stage in London with two industry titans, Bernie Mullin and Jon Dutton at Bill Dorsey’s first international ALSD conference. Well done.”
– Tyler Mazereeuw, Chief Revenue Officer, Canadian Football League
“I wanted to personally say a huge thank you. The ALSD conference was fantastic, and you certainly created something very special for the inaugural UK conference. I hope it becomes an annual event now in the UK!”
– Russell Cox, Senior Business Development Manager, Goodwood
“Congrats to Katie McIntyre and the team on a game-changing event at #ALSDInternational. Exceptional content, networking, and friendship. Can’t wait for next year!”
– Simon Long, Commercial Director, The Sports Consultancy
“SCAU architects discovered ALSD USA in 2018, where we were lucky enough to hear about the inaugural ALSD International congress in London. ALSD mixed perfectly their U.S. experience with the burgeoning European hospitality market. ALSD is perfect for those that want to hear, experience, and, most importantly, share the cutting edge of future stadium hospitality. Indeed, it is rare to experience a congress where world experts are so happy to share and discuss. ALSD has succeeded in creating the perfect environment for this.”
– Oliver Page, International Development Director, SCAU
“First panel of the day on the future of sports business and live events completed at the ALSD International Conference, which was both enjoyable and enlightening. A pleasure to share the stage with Tyler Mazereeuw from the Canadian Football League and the legend that is Bernie Mullin… Digital, technology, innovation, audience trends, and knowledge transfer amongst many topics discussed with Katie McIntyre during the final session of the ALSD International Conference. Great to meet some new people who seemed enthused with our journey.”
– Jon Dutton, CEO, Rugby League World Cup 2021
“It’s hard to believe it was the first ALSD event of its kind in London. It felt like an established must-attend event. In my view, delegates included some of the best minds in the sports and entertainment industries, and I enjoyed the opportunity to meet them in the variety of formal and informal settings. It was a pleasure to be a part of the event. I hope the audience at my panel on venue technology found the discussions insightful. All that’s left to say is a big thank you to the team at ALSD International for putting on such a professional and fun event. I look forward to seeing everyone back next year.”
– Adam Goodyer, CEO, LiveStyled
“Amazing conference! What a pleasure to participate!”
– Annemarie Hastings, Executive Vice President, Fan Engagement, Fund Raisers Sports
“Great to see old and new faces at ALSD International. Very interesting speakers and discussions taking place around the changing landscape of venues. Also, exciting times for Verteda working with these venues.”
– Steven Lowing, Business Development Manager, Verteda Ltd
“For us, both Ecoprod and URIMAT International, it was a great opportunity to connect with key people from stadia and experts from the industry. Also the fact we could meet key persons from the U.S. who represent stadia we already work with was very helpful. It was definitely worthwhile to attend. We found the whole event was very well run and organised. Also the side events, such as the visit to Wembley and the catering was just perfect. Congrats to a successful first European ALSD Event!
– Marcel Näpflin, Executive Board Member, URIMAT International
If you weren’t one of the 250-plus industry professionals that took part in the inaugural ALSD International event, make sure to register your interest for the 2019 edition, which will be returning to London, by emailing email@example.com, and make sure to keep up-to-date regarding the dates, host venues, as well as speaker, sponsor, and exhibitor opportunities for the 2019 event at www.ALSD.com.