Up until recently, entertaining clients was a basic affair: Crown Lagers and iffy spring rolls served by disinterested uni students in a perfunctory corporate box while watching the footy on a Friday night.
Of course there were fancier options, like a round of golf on a prestige course, but the available range and style of events was limited. However, these days it seems the sky’s the limit when it comes to the different ways businesses can entertain their clients or for individuals looking for that new amazing experience.
Growth of premium events market
A big factor driving the maturation and increasing sophistication of the industry has been the growth of the sports industry, both here in Australia and overseas. That and the fact that the people buying for their company, clients or a special occasion are searching for something more exclusive and tailored in order to impress clients or creating that memorable moment.
The co-founders of premium events and experiences marketplace Tixstar, Jordan Leask and Clint Hillas, say sports entertainment, and the unique experiences it brings consumers, is one of the big ticket items spearheading their move to aggregate premium events and experiences for the sports & entertainment market.
“Sports and events has always been a passion of mine and I think sports and entertainment for Aussies generally is something we are all passionate about in some way,” Leask says.
Hillas agrees and says sport in particular has proven to be a fantastic medium for getting people together socially and “breaking down barriers”, especially when it comes to business or client entertaining.
“There are so many synergies between sport and business now,” Hillas says.
Leask and Hillas both come to Tixstar with over a decade of experience in the sports & entertainment industry behind them.
Both use the term “clunky” in referring to how bookings are currently handled. They see Tixstar as a platform which can complement and streamline the experience for consumers as well as rights holders such as leagues, clubs, and marketing agencies.
Bringing ‘amazing events’ to light
Leask says the fragmented nature of the market means consumers looking to book events or wanting a certain experience are often unaware of what’s on offer.
“For a long time I had always thought as an industry we’ve got some amazing events and experiences, and a lot of experiences people aren’t even aware are available. Sometimes customers want to go to a particular event and have a certain type of experience, but to find that experience or the right value package to purchase is quite a clunky, fragmented and time consuming process.”
A quick look at the Tixstar website, which was launched in April, shows the variety of events already on offer, from the standard VIP corporate package experiences at the major sporting codes through to far more boutique events, such as a VIP bench seat experience at a Melbourne Storm game.
Venture away from those match day experiences and you can book a mid week private dinner with sports stars or even play in the Australian PGA Pro-Am Tournament on the Gold Coast.
Hillas says the inventory of experiences is set to grow, with not only sports entertainment but also cultural events on the menu too, such as a private dining experience for 10 guests at award winning restaurant MAHA with celebrity chef Shane Delia as your personal host.
Leask say the Tixstar concept has been well received by rights holders, who see it as a way of getting their products and message out to a market which is craving unique and out-of-the-box experiences. In the tight and competitive Australian sports market, rights holders are also keen to monetise their proprietary assets as efficiently and profitably as possible.
“What we are trying to do effectively is make it easier for the consumer, whether that’s a corporate, group buyer or an individual, to be able to easily search, compare and find the right experience for the right occasion, and ultimately have a seamless purchase process for them. That ultimately aids the rights holders as well, whether that’s leagues, event promoters, clubs or venues,” Leask says.
Hillas says a good example of the buy-in the online marketplace has had so far is seen by the number of leading brands selling their experiences on Tixstar to extend their marketing reach.
The pair say it is still early days for Tixstar, which is powered by Marketplacer software, but they are extremely happy with the response they’ve had from both the consumer and vendor sides of the marketplace.
Marketplace with massive potential
Certainly, the confidence of Leask and Hillas is backed by Tixstar’s investors, including Gerry Ryan, the founder of caravan maker Jayco, who has been an active investor in several online and technology businesses since selling his stake in the caravan business.
“We think Tixstar can be one of the biggest, if not the biggest of our marketplaces. We want scale behind all of our marketplaces that we do – we try and pick big markets where there are lots of sellers and consumers.”