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April 16, 2008

Rugby World Cup is a corporate hospitality winner

The Rugby World Cup 2007 has been the most successful in the history of the sport in terms of sales of corporate hospitality and travel packages, helped by the exciting experience created for customers.

The number of corporate hospitality packages sold was over 110,000, more than twice the number sold for the RWC 2003 in Australia. Take up of travel packages hit 185,000, again more than double than for the tournament four years ago.

Remarkably, the combined total of corporate hospitality and travel packages – 295,000 – is a third more than the amount sold at both of the previous two Rugby World Cups put together, and the success is in large part down to the vision of the International Rugby Board (IRB), which organises the four-yearly competition.

In 2004, the IRB signed a groundbreaking deal which allowed a single supplier – RTH’07, a joint venture between Sodexho and the Mike Burton Group – to look after the marketing and distribution of both types of packages, a first in sports marketing.

With overall control, RTH’07 was able to tightly restrict the number of tickets which fell into the hands of black marketers and also offer an innovative hospitality experience, marrying excellent food with exciting multimedia displays. RTH’07 appointed 25 official travel agents and nine corporate hospitality agencies to sell the packages.

Explaining how adding an experiential element to the hospitality event helped, Tony Barnard, head of marketing and communications for RTH’07, said: “The IRB wanted to raise the bar in terms of the sheer quality of the hospitality in order to make the RWC 2007 an unforgettable experience and to set a new standard for people who enjoy hospitality at major sporting events.

“To reach the platinum hospitality area, fans had to walk through an atmospheric tunnel which is 10 metres long and had a vivid and captivating display of life-sized rugby images. When people emerged, to the sound of cheering crowds and playing bands, the sense of excitement was palpable.”
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