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Wimbledon: Three new hospitality suites for 2019 revealed

As the world’s best-loved tennis championships at Wimbledon are just over a month away, M&IT asked Nick Gratwick, Keith Prowse’s head of events & development what’s new at the SW19 venue.

Do you have a long-term plan at Wimbledon?
We are at the start of a new term with the AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis Club) that sees us move into an exclusive relationship selling, marketing and creating new experiences both inside and outside of the grounds. We have created a brand-new experience, The Rosewater Pavilion, at the southern part of the grounds. At the same time, we have remodelled the award-winning Gatsby Club and renamed it The Lawn.

At Keith Prowse, we have a rolling plan for development whereby we critique every aspect of the event, evaluate performance and tweak to constantly enhance the product. There are some new elements of The Lawn that will be delivered in 2020, but for now, that is under wraps.

What do The Lawn, Rosewater Pavilion and Skyview Suites bring to Wimbledon?
We have been very careful to create three unique propositions at the AELTC to suit a wide range of entertaining needs, budgets and experiences. The Lawn is the most playful of facilities with multi-sensory experiences to enjoy: a large garden, roaming musicians, elements that start at different times of the day, there is a vibe to the space. Its double height roof and floor to ceiling windows ensure this space maximises the light. Packages also include the choice of Centre and Number 1 Court tickets to give customers flexibility.

Nick-Gratwick, head of event and <br/> development, Keith Prowse.

Nick-Gratwick, head of event and
development, Keith Prowse.

The Rosewater Pavilion is an exclusive hideaway inside the grounds. Guests will enter a private gate into a large garden space dedicated to this facility. Entering the pavilion, guests will look directly through the large bifold doors framing Centre Court.

The ability to roam within the spacious venue, to access either the private balcony or to sit by the pianist in the large lounge bar, allows guests to choose the experience they are most comfortable to entertain in. Skyview Suites have a phenomenal reputation and for good reason. Consistently in the highest demand and scoring very highly on customer feedback, once guests experience these Centre Court Suites, they don’t tend to give them up.

Guests are met and escorted via a Fast Track route, they take their place in one of the premium private suites all with stunning balconies, bedecked in the type of Wimbledon floral that is well known and loved. Such is their popularity; this area has already sold out and requests are coming in for 2020.

Why did you feel it was important to create these new hospitality offerings?
People approach hospitality in different ways, they have different measures of success, or want to entertain in a way – so to dictate via a single offer would be the wrong thing to do. Our offers are flexible and can be tailored to ensure we are giving the customer exactly what they want. Whether that is playing tennis before their attendance with a former Wimbledon champion, hosting a conference in a private meeting space, hosting networking sessions, adding hotel rooms, chauffeur cars – you name it, we can do it. Customers respond well to this and we have a very loyal following. We added a Concierge offering in The Lawn (formerly The Gatsby Club) two years ago and its phenomenal success will be extended this year to include the Rosewater Pavilion.

Skyview Suite at Wimbledon

Skyview Suite at Wimbledon.

What new elements are you bringing?
Customer-facing changes include brand-new designs across all elements to The Rosewater Pavilion and The Lawn. We have had new bespoke staircases built for us which are very exciting (to me) as they have never been used in a temporary structure before.

Guests in The Rosewater Pavilion will be given Court Comfort packs which essentially give you everything you need whilst on court, with items including sunscreen, water, fans and sweets. These bespoke Wimbledon designed bags will become collector’s items!

We have enhanced and redesigned areas which have long been customer favourites. One of these being the foot stream in The Lawn garden, this has been extended to allow more people to enjoy the experience. Due to popular demand, we have redesigned and extended the cigar and whisky bar; this now also provides some very exclusive rums which are perfectly blended into stunning cocktails by our mixologists. There are also the technical changes to the design which customers won’t realise have happened such as new power routes, gas mains and roadways; this will just be considered the norm, but have taken careful planning, time and effort and will improve the overall experience.

What’s your demographic for the hospitality sector?
It will come as no surprise that the shape of our database looks somewhat different to what it did three or four years ago. Regulatory change, the firming up of data protection in the shape of GDPR are things we are aware of and are proactive in addressing. Our portfolio has shifted, and the range of innovative, informal experiences has increased. There is more appeal for our products across both B2B and B2C. We undertake research on a regular basis and the next phase will be in the shape of a white paper which will address conceptions and requirements on how companies and individuals plan on using hospitality in the future.

How much revenue is the hospitality sector worth at Wimbledon?
Unfortunately, I can’t divulge that information. What I can say is that Wimbledon is such an iconic world class event that people from around the globe flock to SW19 for these two weeks. We are there to enhance their experience and ensure they have the very best day. By tracking customer experience, we know that it is seen as value for money across all the areas we operate.

We have been very clear in differentiating the three hospitality levels within Wimbledon. Superior and concierge service comes as standard, but by differentiating style, space, mood, proximity to seat, seat location and privacy they all differ. These levels allow the customer to define the experience that best suits their entertaining requirements and choose hospitality with confidence. Our 30+ year heritage at this event, our multi award winning experiences and our innate desire to innovate makes for the perfect mix to pre-empt customer needs and exceed expectations.

What is it about the sports hospitality sector that Keith Prowse is good at?
We are exceptionally lucky to work at Queen’s Club with the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) and enjoy a very close and strong relationship with the team at the Fever-Tree Championships. We are also very fortunate to work outside of tennis with the RFU at Twickenham, along with Edgbaston, The Oval, The Investec Derby and The Old Course in St Andrews to name a few. We are experts in conceptualising and delivering hospitality experiences within the sports industry and as such, this covers a huge variety of sporting events and disciplines.

Tennis is highly competitive. In what ways are you competitive?
As a company we are competitive as we want to ensure we are offering value for customers and clients alike; we innovate annually. We have been in this industry for over 30 years and as such have a huge amount of insights and in-house skills. However, we don’t ever think that ‘we are there’ and rest on our laurels or take anything for granted. We always strive for better, one of our pillars is that we are never satisfied, therefore we are constantly challenging ourselves.

It’s a huge compliment that we are copied in the industry and take that as an outward sign that we are doing something worth emulating! It also makes us consider what we are going to do next and how we are going to lead the market into the next level of hospitality.

What gives you the competitive edge?
Our people, our insights our drive and passion for what we do.