Hospitality: A Key Sponsorship Service in Sports Marketing
In her work Sports Marketing (1994), Brooks presented a definition for hospitality in a chapter titled “Putting a Sports Sponsorship Plan Together”: “When the prime objective of a sponsorship program is to provide hospitality to distributors, employees, trade contacts or decision makers, monitoring the effects the hospitality program has on these publics can provide direct feedback on whether or not the program has had the desired effect” (italics as original). Irwin, Sutton, and McCarthy (2002) discussed this notion further in the work Sport Promotion and Sales Management by writing about “incentivizing sport consumers” and suggested interpersonal facilitation is one of the “unique features of the sport product” (p. 47) because attendance at a sporting event generally takes place in a public setting and “satisfaction [is] greatly influenced by interaction with other people” (Mullin, Hardy, & Sutton, 2000, p. 220). Melnick (1993) discussed this social behavior and suggested sport venues are an excellent arena for engagement among strangers or people who may only know each other casually because the sporting event facilitates a common viewing experience and allows for noncommittal socialization. The service activity described, also known as “customer entertainment” or “auxiliary social functions” (Irwin et al., 2002), has its roots in interpersonal facilitation and usually represents a provision sold by the property organization (e.g., the International Olympic Committee) to a sponsor (e.g., Coca-Cola) for
the purpose of providing social entertainment to the sponsor’s personally selected guests in proximity to a desired sponsored event (e.g., Beijing 2008 Olympic Games).