Esports: an untapped opportunity for the event industry?

Esports, the world of competitive video-gaming, presents a vast and untapped revenue opportunity for the event and hospitality industry.

That was the message coming loud and clear from a fascinating panel session I attended at the HBAA kick-off meeting at The Grand Brighton.

The session, titled ‘Esports: An Industry Regeneration Opportunity’, was led by Alistair Turner of Eight PR and featured Cameron Vanloo, a lecturer on esports at the University of Northampton.

Vanloo told the audience: “Esports presents a tangible opportunity for the event industry. In 2019, around 4,000 physical tournaments took place and attracted 454 million viewers. The UK is the fourth biggest consumer of esports in the world. Esports hasn’t seen its limit. Viewership numbers are constantly on the rise and are expected to reach 1.7bn in 2022.”

The esports panel at the HBAA meeting

The esports panel at the HBAA meeting

Johanna Byrane, head of business development at Twickenham Stadium, discussed her experience of working with the community and how Twickenham has become the official HQ of esports team Excel, as well as explaining the ways in which our industry can work with the competitive video-gaming world.

She said: “They’re booking their own flights and their own venues. There’s an opportunity to go on their journey with them.

“You’ve got to really believe and be passionate about what they’re doing and where they’re going. Once you’re in it’s a huge opportunity. I believe they need some help – especially with travel and accommodation. They really need our support and then they can concentrate on growing the sport and tournaments.”

Vanloo also shared important insights for venues. He said esports events do not require standardised venues or large capacity spaces as most people watch online. He highlighted the importance of technology in delivering these events and pointed out that because gatherings are truly global they do not run to the usual working day of 9 to 5.

Vanloo’s own journey is fascinating – brought up in a house with no television or computer, he didn’t play his first computer game until four years ago. Which just goes to show the speed with which one can become immersed in esports – an encouraging sign for the events industry?

Have you got plans to explore esports in 2020? Is it something you’d be interested in learning more about? Send us an email with your thoughts.