Behind the scenes at British Grand Prix hospitality

At the recent Formula One race at Silverstone, BlackBook Motorsport sat down with James Byrom, head of motorsport at Match Hospitality, to find out more about the logistical effort required to stage a hospitality offering at Britain’s biggest motorsport event.

Away from the drama of the on-track action, there are some spectators fortunate enough to take in a motorsport event from the more comfortable surroundings of hospitality.

A staple of a modern sports offering for fans, Formula One was arguably a pioneer in the art of creating premium on-site experiences, dating back to the days of Bernie Ecclestone striving to woo both current and potential sponsors.

This offering developed into what is known today as the Paddock Club, Formula One’s premium hospitality package that the series offers at its races around the world. Locally, British Grand Prix host Silverstone offers its own packages through global sports hospitality company Match Hospitality.

Founded in 2007, Match manages the hospitality offerings across a range of sports, including at the recent 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar. The company is also gearing up to deliver the commercial hospitality programme for the upcoming 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

At Silverstone, there are various hospitality options for paying guests, ranging from one-day to three-day packages available at different prices. The predominantly indoor products – the Fusion Lounge and the Ignition Club – will set guests back UK£3,355 (US$4,395) and UK£2,865 (US$3,750), respectively, for all three days.

In addition, Match Hospitality operates outdoor offerings with the Octane Terrace and the Racing Green, as well as cheaper options such as the Heritage Club, Legends Club and Trackside. All packages offer inner track access.

BlackBook Motorsport visited the Fusion Lounge, located between the Stowe and Vale corners at Silverstone, at the most recent British Grand Prix to talk to James Byrom, head of motorsport at Match Hospitality, to find out more.

The Fusion Lounge has a central stage from which the compères for the day present and entertain guests

What’s your relationship like with Silverstone and how important is Formula One to your overall offering?

Here at Silverstone, we do five events a year: Formula One, MotoGP, a fantastic event called the Silverstone Festival that takes place in August, which is all classic cars, and then we have touring cars and super bikes.

[Formula One] has just grown and grown over the last few years, particularly with the time since Covid. We first signed our deal with Silverstone back in 2019. 2020 was supposed to be our first Grand Prix and then obviously Covid happened.

But we’re really proud. It’s gone from strength to strength over the last few years, and this weekend we had our largest-ever attendance with 27,000 hospitality guests over the three days.

How has today gone and how has it compared to previous years given the record attendance?

It couldn’t have gone better. Everything has been really smooth. We’ve been lucky with the weather, which is always key when you have an event like this, which is outside so much. We’ve got some amazing suppliers that we work with, who really do a great job delivering on our behalf. We’re really proud of what we do here at Silverstone.

The most important thing is to make sure that each product stands on its own, rather than saying ‘this one is better than this one’ or ‘this one is the bottom of the chain’. You’ve got to make sure that each one is its own experience that can stand on its own two feet.

You run hospitality in conjunction with the Paddock Club and F1 Experiences. What’s that dynamic like?

Obviously it’s a shared event. Formula One organises the Paddock Club, which they do all over the world. They’ve got an amazing team that go from race to race. But here, we work on our side of the track and build our programme and our products for all of our guests. It’s a lot of fun.

Where you have Paddock Club, you obviously have the unique assets of Formula One in terms of the access and the [hospitality] positioning is over the start-finish line. It pushes us with our secondary programme of the official hospitality [offering] at the track to do new things and different things. We try to make a party everywhere we go.


Are there any particular logistical challenges that come with staging hospitality at an event like this?

The team at Silverstone have to manage 150,000 spectators in a day, so that’s a lot of movement. On top of that, you’ve got the infrastructure that’s leaving here – you’ve got the media, you’ve got the teams that need to pack up and move on to the next race, and so on.

It can be a challenge, but the team at Silverstone have done a really great job making sure that the buses run on time and everything moves as quickly as it can.

How do you see your hospitality offering developing over time?

We’re always looking to see how we can fine tune and tweak things. We enhanced the Octane Terrace that was introduced last year. We’re really proud of what we did there.

I think it’s been the best party experience here at the track, I think they’ve all had a fantastic time. We really feel like we’ve got that one nailed down now, so we need to look at where we can tweak other areas to make them even better.

What other hospitality offerings do you provide at the track?

We have a wide variety. We have our alfresco products, as we call them, where you don’t have sit down tables like we do here at Fusion [Lounge] or Ignition [Club]. They’re free-seating areas with open spaces, but grandstand seats as well. There’s a range of food options, some open barbeques, some great gourmet food trucks, and obviously lots of entertainment, lots of dancing and lots music.

And here [with Fusion and Ignition], we have these indoor products. We’re probably about 50/50 on indoor versus outdoor hospitality now. Being a greenfield site at the circuit, there’s a lot that you can do to really make the most of that sunshine when it comes.

Match Hospitality offers a range of inner track hospitality, including the predominantly outdoor Octane Terrace

How do you approach the entertainment side of the event?

The entertainment is so important. We don’t necessarily have the luxury of the paddock to look into, so we really have to make sure that the entertainment is something special here.

We invest a lot in the compères, the likes of Vernon Kay here and Jake Humphries over at Ignition, as well as Emma Walsh and Toby Moody, we really try and entertain people. Here at Fusion [Lounge], we very much go for the party lifestyle, a ‘cocktails on the deck’ feel.

Whereas, over at Ignition Club, we are much more built for the racing fans. We make sure that the questions that are being asked there, the entertainment is all built around the racing enthusiasm and that’s reflected in the people who come to those products now.

Having walked around the area, I can see sections dedicated to Red Bull, Ferrari and Peroni. How did those commercial conversations start?

Teams and sponsors are always looking for ways to activate and to bring their guests different experiences. They have their Paddock Club access, but sometimes they also want to do something different. We’ve been very lucky with the clients that we’ve got, we’ve gradually grown our base.

In our first year, Peroni supported us by being our first private suite customer. Then Red Bull came along in year two, and this year, we had Ferrari Northern Europe join us. We try to offer something that’s different, something that’s exciting, and I think our groups are very happy.

We’ve already had some good conversations with a lot of people about similar products next year.


And finally, how did you find the race?

It had its moments for sure. We’ve been so lucky here at Silverstone in the last couple of years, there’s been exceptional racing that’s got everyone glued to the track, watching the cars, whether it’s in the grandstand or on the deck here, for example.

There’s definitely been a few moments. I think that we’re lucky and we can expect even better next year I’m sure.

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