Sports and leisure industry: play without limits - Beyond Retail Industry

In this special LeisurUp on-demand session, moderator Gilles Devendeville, CEO and founder, Real Consulting, introduced presentations and ideas about the sports and leisure industry from Miriam Cobbaert, international business development director, Wavesurfer; Bart Dohmen, CEO, Unlimited Snow; and Alistair Gosling, CEO and founder, Extreme International. The aim was to discover how more venues can incorporate leisure into their destinations.

Alistair Gosling, CEO and founder, Extreme International, said that multiple revenue streams are the secret to a successful, high level entertainment offer, including “ticket sales, food and beverage, viewing, licensing, retail and then events,” with the latter potentially driving greater mall footfall and allowing destinations to consider what they can do to both attract customers and leverage spend once visitors are on-site.

But he maintained that any sports and leisure attraction within a mixed-use environment must start with what the customer is looking for and how they will interact with the facilities and sports development on offer, before determining how best to optimise the return on investment.

You know, it’s really about looking at the consumer journey and looking at how that works from an overall perspective and making sure that everything aligns to making sure it’s going to work,” he said, while stressing that marketing and communities are also important in spreading the word to ensure people attend.

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However, Gosling also cautioned that, although sports attractions have a role to play within mixed-use developments and shopping centres, they cannot be used as a panacea for the struggling retail sector as a replacement as retail tenant numbers decline in some categories.

Is it going to solve all of the problems of all of the retail space that is coming available on a worldwide basis, for example with the shopping malls? It isn’t going to be the problem solver but I think it can definitely be part of the solution that these large retail organisations and real estate owners are looking for overall, said Alistair Gosling, CEO and founder, Extreme International.

Gosling also stressed the need to look at all the revenue opportunities around an event, driving footfall in a shopping mall, and what can be built around the offer.

Sports and leisure industry development

Two of the panellists came from very distinct sports and leisure activity, featuring waves and snow. However, despite the niche nature of these concepts, they both emphasised the wider appeal of their leisure proposition and the universal truths about how people engage, regardless of the type of sporting attraction.

It’s all about relationships,” said Miriam Cobbaert, international business development director at standing wave specialist Wavesurfer. The company is based in Belgium and provides a variety of surf concepts for indoor and outdoor leisure and retail destinations around the world, including installations suitable for shopping malls. It has fixed and pop-up versions of the technology, available in a variety of unit sizes.

We are agile, we have short communication lines, we have short response times, we have even shorter delivery times, said Miriam Cobbaert, international business development director, Wavesurfer, of the business.

She also emphasised the need for “animations around the wave machine and the importance of leveraging the core offer with other revenue opportunities, such as a café sitting alongside.

Food and beverage is always helping because you have not just the surfers but all the people they bring with them and the people who come for the spectacle,” she said.

And Bart Dohmen, CEO of snow-based attraction specialist Unlimited Snow, pointed out that everybody loves to play in snow, and that its “magical” quality offers opportunities to bring snow-themed attractions to venues around the world, based on a part investment, part franchise business model.

Dohmen added that the merchandise line that it provides with the company’s children’s themed Miko’s World concept provides a secondary income model, while a third revenue stream includes an F&B offer, both of which support ticket sales for the snow-based attraction.

Gilles Devendeville, CEO and founder, Real Consulting, introduced the presentations and ideas debated during the session from Miriam Cobbaert, international business development director, Wavesurfer; Bart Dohmen, CEO, Unlimited Snow; and Alistair Gosling, CEO and founder, Extreme International. They were speaking at a special session called Sports Attractions: Play Without Limits!, broadcast during MAPIC & LeisurUp Digital 2020, which brought the core retail and leisure industry trends together across a series of insightful live and on-demand sessions.

Watch the session in full below:

Also, read on how mixed-use retail development is reshaping retail models in a 2-part article, part 1 and part 2.

About Author

Mark Faithfull is Editor of the MAPIC Preview and News Magazines, as well as Editor of online publication and analysis specialist Retail Property Analyst.

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