The future of sporting events

As part of its industry-wide initiative to understand and prepare for events of the future, GL events bought together a prestigious panel of sporting event experts at last month’s Festival & Outdoor Events Show, chairing a live panel discussion that aimed to predict the future of sporting events.

The panel, chaired by Nick Morgan, NOEA Council member and CEO of We are The Fair, consisted of David Mackinnon (The Jockey Club), Marc Hope (The Sports Consultancy), Gerry Dawson (Event Development and Sports Tourism Specialist), and David Tunnicliffe, Commercial Director at GL events UK.

The panel approached this very broad subject through a focus on four key areas: consumer behaviour; the move towards premium event experiences; event technology, and the growing occurrence of ‘event extensions’ to traditional sporting event formats.

The good news for everyone is that the panellists were unanimously confident for the industry, thanks to consumer behaviour, which continues to endorse and enforce the love and economy of ‘experience,’ and a growing appetite to be a part of live events, especially sporting events.

There was also discussion around the cost of attending live sporting events. The panel identified a desire, at one end of the market, for ‘unforgettable, money can’t buy’ experience; but also, among millennials, the value placed upon ‘once in a lifetime’ events. This trend means a gradual move towards increasingly ‘premium’ delivery in the market.

This discussion point helped to explain another topic explored: the increasing emergence of ‘extension events’ offered at existing sporting occasions. Examples include musical acts, consumer exhibitions and even festivals, created within sporting events. Again, this trend allows organisers to create a more memorable and broadly appealing event experience; but crucially also offers increased value and a wider range of benefits to commercial supporters and sponsors. It’s a trend that shows no signs of abating.

Finally, panellists approached the role of event technology, from the specific perspective of event infrastructure. Participants were united in their opinion that technology would continue to touch and influence every part of the event experience, from ticketing to engagement; but agreed that the infrastructure behind event technology would need to be more robust to meet the ambitions of tech providers and event organisers.

GL events UK will continue to initiate and lead these industry discussions, and has already produced reports including a white paper addressing globalisation, a highly debated topic within the industry. Follow @gleventsuk or contact us to join the conversation!