60 seconds with...Ted Walker

Ted Walker, head of marketing at Keith Prowse, talks to C&IT about Wimbledon, the Olympics and beyond.

60 seconds with...Ted Walker
60 seconds with...Ted Walker

Keith Prowse this year celebrates 30 years as the official supplier to The Championships, Wimbledon. How have corporate hospitality needs and trends changed in that time?

With Britain becoming a nation of foodies, we have noted a significant increase in the expectations of food and drink at sporting and cultural events.  For this reason, our event managers work with a team of chefs, including Michelin-starred Albert Roux at Wimbledon and Jason Atherton at Twickenham, to ensure that the menu will impress hospitality guests.  

We have also seen an increased demand for our packages which offer memorable experiences such as The Players’ Lounge at Twickenham, where guest can engage in a question and answer session with up to three England Elite Squad players after the match.

How has the 2012 Olympic Games affected your Wimbledon sales this year?

Despite the general economic situation, the outlook for the UK corporate hospitality sector is strong. 

The market has been buoyed by changing customer demographics as traditional FTSE-500 companies are replaced by SMEs who understand the benefits of face-to-face marketing and the inevitable interest in The London Olympic & Paralympic Games. 

The demand for blue riband events, such as The Championships, Wimbledon, has remained in line with previous years despite the scope for other high-profile events taking place in 2012.

Wimbledon’s popularity has ensured that in 2012, The Championships, Wimbledon, has maintained positive sales of corporate hospitality and continued growth from in-bound groups from overseas destinations.

What trends are you seeing in corporate hospitality this year across all the events you work with?

Overall, we have seen a high volume of bookings in the last two years. However, there has been a shift in the market for smaller groups of guests. In response to the trend for smaller bookings, at The Gatsby Club we now offer tables for as few as two guests.

We have also witnessed an increased demand for our informal and lower cost packages such as the ‘Experience Club’ packages at Twickenham.

These types of packages are suited to customers wanting to enjoy a relaxed dress code and receive light hospitality at their chosen event.

This is a popular option at venues such as Twickenham, the Kia Oval, Wimbledon and Edgbaston, where the hospitality offering usually includes bowl food, complimentary beverages and a comfortable space for socialising between play, as well as before or after the game.  

What is your forecast for sales in 2013, compared to 2012?

Despite 2012 being a landmark year for events, we have maintained our market position and envisage a positive outlook for 2013.  

We hold more official appointments than any other corporate hospitality provider, and we have built long-lasting relationships with the likes of Wimbledon, the Kia Oval, Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Henley Royal Regatta and Twickenham Stadium; these are all stand out venues which play host to some of the most prolific events in the British social calendar.  

Our hospitality service matches the stature of these venues, which is what appeals to customers who are looking for the superior service to enhance their event experience. We have already recognised a high demand for events taking place in 2013 such as The 6 Nations tournament, The Championships, Wimbledon, and the Ashes Test Match series.

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