How exciting has the build-up been for this year’s Open Championship?
It has been massively exciting. We have seen record crowds at The Open over the past few years which is a great barometer to show the interest in golf. Tiger Woods winning again and being back on our TV screens can only be a positive for the game. It was great to see the Champion Golfer of Year, Francesco Molinari, do so well at The Masters and I am personally very excited to see what happens over the next two Majors. Not to show any favouritism but it would be incredible to see Rory and Tiger walking down the 18th on the final day with packed grandstands as joint leaders. As this is the first Open at Royal Portrush for nearly seven decades, we are all excited about this year but even more excited for the fans attending Royal Portrush or watching on TV around the world. It really is shaping up to be one of the greatest. Golf is in a good place and I feel it will go from strength to strength.
Is it fair to say Hospitality might be the only way to get to watch The Open in 2019 given that regular tickets are sold out?
The interest in The 148th Open at Royal Portrush has been incredible, not just from the local market but also from fans around the world. After an absence of nearly 70 years, we were expecting a huge amount of interest and we were not disappointed having sold out of all general admission tickets in record time. Following the high demand for Hospitality experiences at The Open when we launched, we added a further 4,000 places with a majority of these being snapped up in the first couple of months. With tickets now sold out on Championship days, Hospitality represents the only way for fans to attend The Open. There are tickets to purchase on practice days for those wanting to attend The Open and watch the world’s best hone their skills before the Championship tees off. There are only a limited number of Hospitality experiences available so we recommend anyone looking to attend The Open gets in touch with us as soon as possible.
How does Hospitality improve the experience of attending The Open?
The Open Hospitality delivers spectators the best possible experience at the Championship. For fans looking to indulge in the finest Hospitality, our range of fully inclusive facilities provide the ideal way to soak up the atmosphere whilst enjoying over ten hours of the best in Irish food and drink. With a range of course viewing facilities and our popular Champions Club experience, there are options to suit all tastes and budgets. We have a wide range of customers who attend The Open and who purchase it for many different reasons. Always played on Links courses, the weather has a habit of being unpredictable so having a “base for the day” is one reason that always crops up. It’s our duty to make sure guests are well looked after whether rain or shine.
How has Hospitality improved in the last ten years?
The sports event world continues to become more and more congested and competition has never been greater. We are incredibly fortunate that fans continue to return each year as we travel across the UK with record numbers attending over the past few years both for tickets and Hospitality. However, it’s important that we don’t stand still. We strive to deliver an exemplary customer experience from first contact right through to the event itself and the post event follow up. We are incredibly proud of the level of Hospitality we provide our guests and are continually looking at ways to improve and innovate. We now have a clear hierarchy of products that cater for all needs, whether this is a business looking to invite key clients or golf fans looking to attend The Open in style, we feel there is something for everyone. By booking official Hospitality and joining us at The Open, you are supporting a drive to increase participation and establish more opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the sport..
What types of Hospitality are available?
We have a variety of levels. I often compare our Hospitality to the airline industry offering premium economy, business class and first class. All of our Hospitality experiences have an abundance of benefits that customers enjoy and come back for year after year. Packages include VIP parking, fast track VIP entrance, a choice of course view facilities, fully inclusive breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea and snacks as well as a complimentary bar. The Ultimate Open Experience goes that extra step providing a range of behind the scenes tours including access to the media centre, NBC studios and a look inside the leaderboards, as well as reserved seats in the 18th green grandstand. Prices start from £225 exc vat on the final practice day and our remaining experience for the Championship days (excluding Sunday) is £750 exc vat per person per day. The variety of experiences available means that businesses can choose the style and level of Hospitality most appropriate to them to ensure they get the most out of the Championship and guarantee a return on their objectives. Whether this is fine dining on a private table with a course view or a more informal and relaxed environment, The Open is the ideal platform to cement relationships. The mix of private and corporate guests provides a vibrant atmosphere in all of our facilities, too. Over 50% of our bookings are private clients.
Why should fans be vigilant about the secondary market for ticket sales and unofficial Hospitality packages?
As with any major event, there is always the risk of ticket touts, third-party ticketing websites as well as rogue and unofficial Hospitality agents. We would always recommend fans contact the ticket and Hospitality office to ensure that they are legitimate source for purchasing tickets and Hospitality. A list of authorised providers can be found on TheOpen.com. For Hospitality, always look out for calls out of the blue offering a special discount due to a cancellation. This is a tell-tale sign they are unofficial.
With a view to next year and beyond, what can fans expect?
Following record Hospitality sales in 2019, we expect this trend to continue in to 2020 and 2021 for The 150th Open at St Andrews. The Open craftsmen and experts are the inspiration behind the Hospitality concept for The 149th Open at Royal St George’s. Divided into tiers – Engravers and Scorers – each offers a unique way to enjoy the Championship. Together they cater to every taste and budget. Our new Hospitality experiences, The Origins, deliver the perfect setting to indulge in the finest Hospitality at the world’s oldest and most prestigious major. We have already received a record number of enquiries for Royal St George’s and, given its proximity to London, we are expecting it to sell out in record time. We will launch our 2020 campaign for Hospitality in May 2019 and would recommend anyone wishing to attend register at TheOpen.com/Hospitality or contact the Hospitality team at Hospitality@TheOpen.com