This year marks the sixth occasion that ATPI Sports Events – part of the ATPI Group – has helped coordinate travel and hospitality programmes behind the nine-month and 45,000 nautical mile Volvo Ocean Race challenge.
As the prestigious round-the-world 2017-18 yacht race approaches the final legs, the company offers corporate packages that combine hospitality with all the excitement of a global sporting event.
Helen van Berkel, global head of events for ATPI Sports Events, outlines here some of the key considerations and recommendations to steer MICE organisers to sporting success before the legendary event concludes in The Netherlands in June.
Keep itineraries flexible: Being a sailing event, weather inevitably plays a large part in the Volvo Ocean Race. This means leg starts and in-port races have the potential to be more influenced by adverse conditions than at most other sporting occasions. To ensure this doesn’t impact hospitality programmes, leave some room for flexibility around travel arrangements and avoid flights that are too close to the original timings. Whilst any delays to traditional land-based events are unlikely to impact travel plans to the same extent, remember that spectator boats may be carrying 70 guests and don’t therefore always have the option to return a client to shore should race timings change
Get sailing savvy: This year’s race introduced new rules and scoring systems to encourage strategic risk-taking and boost the number of female sailors taking part, making it even more exciting to follow. To ensure clients get the most out of their experience, ATPI Sports Events have commentators who can explain the rules in a way that engages sailing enthusiasts and newcomers to the sport alike. What’s more, unlike the traditional stadium viewing experience, walking around the race villages also provides organisers and guests with a great networking opportunity.
Tailor the event experience: There are lots of opportunities to personalise spectator packages and give guests the best views of the fast-paced action, from renting a private VIP spectator boat or getting a high-speed RIB branded for a bespoke corporate experience. With the Volvo Ocean Race known for being the ultimate test of sailing prowess and teamwork, always make sure you’ve arranged for a professional race representative to be on board to answer any questions and bring the participants’ astonishing achievements to life.
Give guests a slice of the action: Unlike most professional sporting occasions, sailing is one of the few sports which enables guests to get up close and personal with the participating athletes. ATPI Sports Events’ packages therefore provide guests with the opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Boatyard, gather with athletes and their families on the Sailors Terrace before racing begins, experience the thrill of teams crossing the finish line from the water and enjoy celebratory drinks as they rub shoulders with those bold enough to compete.
Create memorable meetings: When planning hospitality at any worldwide sporting event, ensure you work closely with your clients and the events team to understand and maximise the full range of opportunities that are available to combine an experience like the Volvo Ocean Race with a conference, staff event or board meeting. If for example, you might not be able to join a race day, alternative options like a Q&A session with a member of the participating teams before your own corporate event might work well as an alternative option.