When the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) selected China to host the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019, the impact and marketing potential could not be ignored. It is the world’s most populated country and one of the most basketball-crazy nations on the planet. Millions of fans will enthusiastically embrace playing host to the FIBA Basketball World Cup, FIBA’s showcase event held every four years and second in prominence only to the Olympic event. For the first time, the tournament will feature 32 teams, and with 92 games played in 16 days across eight cities— Beijing, Dongguan, Foshan, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan— the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 presents a tremendous opportunity for sponsors to reach Chinese and international fans alike.
But while the tournament has been firmly established since its 1950 inception, an increased emphasis on the corporate and fan hospitality experience came to the forefront for FIBA and its partners in 2019 and beyond.
When I started RGE with rEvolution CEO John Rowady in 2015, we built it to partner with brands, rights holders, sports federations, media, suppliers and agencies to enhance the experience and security of attendees at large-scale sporting events. We have planned and delivered world-class hospitality experiences at the Olympics, FIFA World Cup, FIFA Confederations Cup and America’s Cup, masterfully connecting brands with fans while managing vendors, venues and leagues.
In years past, the FIBA Basketball World Cup host nation handled hospitality at events, and the result was largely inconsistent. Now that the tournament is headed to China, a country largely unfamiliar with hospitality experiences at sporting events, the need to revamp the hospitality model became more evident than ever. With the domestic marketing rights, including hospitality, awarded to Infront China, it was decided in cooperation with FIBA to take on the task for the 2019 event to build a legacy program, which would ensure a consistent experience at each of the eight venues, culminating in a hospitality atmosphere worthy of the FIBA Basketball World Cup final in Beijing.
Commissioned with pulling off this daunting task, Infront China connected with RGE following its work with Infront Sports on behalf of the Wanda Group for the FIFA World Cup 2018. There, RGE supported Infront on ticketing, hospitality and operations for the 12,000 guests of the Wanda Group at the event.
Since formalizing the partnership in early 2018, RGE has worked on the process of creating a scalable hospitality experience that will be executed across the entirety of the tournament. Our team of experts are currently working closely with Infront China in negotiating and defining all aspects of delivering FIBA’s hospitality program, including planning and production of facilities, food and beverage, décor and gifts, as well as developing the financial model and the entire back-end structure. At this year’s tournament, we will lead with a corporate focus in the marketplace but leave the door open for individual sales dependent on market, demand, venue capacity and matchups.
At the recent draw event for the tournament in Shenzhen, we worked closely with Infront China and our production and catering partners to provide a hospitality showcase for FIBA partners, National Federations and corporate clients to highlight the quality and level of service that they can expect to enjoy at each venue throughout the tournament, from the opening game in Beijing on August 31 through the final on September 15.
Down the road, this model could prove to be a sponsorship opportunity for brands, but for now we are simply trying to redefine the way decision makers think internally, offering a service that has been proven internationally for RGE clients across a range of sports.
RGE delivers under the brightest lights in sports, and we have a responsibility to do this right this year in China. Basketball carries enormous meaning to the Chinese population and supporters traveling far and wide to attend, and they deserve a hospitality experience that meets the prestige of the event. Though Chinese businesses and individuals alike are not accustomed to high-end hospitality, we saw firsthand from 12,000 happy Wanda guests at the FIFA World Cup that there is a real appetite for it. Their culture is embracing it, and the power of sport has made it happen.
Now, we are ready to deliver. Reach out today to get inside the game and book your Skybox or Tip-Off packages.
George Pollington, Managing Director, RGE Global Event Consultants