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STH Plans To Leverage Global Network For Australian Success

S
ports Travel and Hospitality (STH) Australia general manager, Sam Chadwick, spoke exclusively with Ministry of Sport about the launch of STH in Australia and how STH plans to leverage its global networks and expertise to make the memorable unforgettable for Australian fans.

As part of the global STH Group, the leading provider of sports travel, hospitality, and premium spectator experiences in the world, STH Australia was founded in 2019, working to secure a six-year partnership with Rugby Australia as their official travel and tours partner, operating as Wallabies Travel.

Chadwick said the partnership with Rugby Australia has set the tone for some more partnership announcements expected to come over the coming weeks, as STH aims to diversify across a number of different sports with a focus on delivering an integrated experience for the customer across travel and the hospitality products.

“Firstly, our partnership with Rugby Australia is a six-year partnership which provides a great opportunity for us to leverage one of the most recognisable brands in Australia, the Wallabies, and engage the large rugby fanbase and play on Australia’s sporting patriotism,” Chadwick told Ministry of Sport.

“We like partnering with rightsholders under long term revenue sharing models so we can build awareness and grow the programs over time for the benefit of both organisations.

“This is our objective with Rugby Australia.

“STH has proven success at doing so by white labelling the rights holder’s brand to better engage the fan and provide unique ticket inclusive travel and hospitality experiences to sporting events.

“STH has a unique offering as we can expand the profile of the events through our global presence and can integrate travel with hospitality to ensure a better customer experience.

“STH operates off the tag line of ‘Your Event. Your Brand. Our Expertise.’

“It is as simple as that.

“This approach enables us to deliver on our purpose which is to make the memorable, unforgettable for Australian fans.

“In Australia, we have got a strategy to drive growth of our existing partnerships, leverage our global rights and to diversify our products and rights across various different sports and events with a particular focus on hospitality; we’ve got a big history in a number of rights in rugby and cricket, with the ICC, Rugby World Cup and Wallabies in Australia.

“STH Australia is currently working with a number of major event bodies to develop an official travel program which is closely aligned to a hospitality program,” he said.

When asked about how STH has handled the COVID-19 pandemic, Chadwick said that it was a mixture of luck, teamwork and clever planning that has helped STH Australia navigate 2020.

“Firstly, we reacted quickly to review our business models and to identify any unnecessary costs or expenses to mitigate the risk of however long the pandemic was going to go for,” Chadwick said.

“Secondly, in respect to the business launch in Australia, on one hand we were really unlucky, because we launched when COVID kicked off, but on the other hand, it gave us the opportunity to look at the bigger picture and have meaningful conversations with rights holders in Australia.

“We were able to be really nimble and leverage the expertise of the STH team globally and particularly in NZ to support the new Australian business during this period.

“It also gave us more time to focus on embedding our partnership with Rugby Australia, ensuring business implementation, and looking beyond the pandemic to drive business growth through securing new rights which has proven to be really successful.

“That’s really been, in some respects, an opportunity, because it’s forced us to look longer term, especially given the life-cycle of the business here in Australia.

“I have spent a lot of this year speaking with rights holders to better understand their current challenges and opportunities.

“I have been lucky to be able to lean on long standing relationships I have established throughout the industry.

“We’ll have some really exciting announcements over the coming weeks with rights across the Rugby World Cup France 2023, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Cox Plate Carnival, Caulfield Cup Carnival, Melbourne Storm, Adelaide Crows, and Sydney Swans.

“We’re looking forward to a big growth phase in the next three to five years,” he said.

With so much uncertainty still surrounding international sporting events, Chadwick said the focus for 2021 will be on promoting domestic and trans-Tasman travel and hospitality.

“I think there will really be a significant uplift in terms of demand for interstate and trans-Tasman travel for the immediate future given the likely restrictions on international travel next year,” Chadwick said.

“Additionally, the opportunity for hospitality is that spectators are hungry to attend events and it can provide a safer experience during COVID-19.

“STH’s presence in both Australia and NZ enables us to leverage the close relationship between the two countries across travel and sport.

“A once in a generation pandemic like this creates opportunity.

“People are desperate to attend events and to travel.

“We’re working closely with Rugby Australia on what next years’ Wallabies and Wallaroos schedules look like, once that’s confirmed, we will move pretty quickly into planning phase for product and packages for next year.

“The team at Rugby Australia have continued to impress me with their commitment to Australian rugby and rugby fans, and we look forward to a more positive 2021 with them.

“So the focus will be on promoting Wallabies Travel domestically, and Wallabies Travel to the Bledisloe Cup matches in New Zealand, and then leveraging STH New Zealand’s partnerships in with All Blacks Tours and New Zealand Cricket Tours as well,” he said.

Discussing how the delivery of travel and hospitality partnerships has been forced to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chadwick said the shift to digital-focused activations will shine through.

“Rightsholders have had to be innovative around how they do things,” Chadwick said.

“It really depends on an event-by-event basis in terms of what’s possible and what you might need to navigate, we will continue to use a lot more digital content in relation to player and coach appearances, given there’s some restrictions on direct physical engagement with player and coaches.

“We have to be flexible and provide different experiences in this context for fans and to provide environments at events that are safe, as we did with the unique Wallabies Travel Bolter experience.

“During discussions across the past year, we also see a huge opportunity to partner with rights holder’s sponsors to increase the value of the asset for the rights holder, drive additional value for the sponsor and provide a curated experience and B2B2C marketing channel,” he said.

When asked about the future of STH in Australia, Chadwick said: “we’re unique in some respects that we have a global presence and decades of experience in both travel and hospitality programs that we can leverage.”

“I’m lucky to have that expertise and global database within the group to lean on and look forward to bringing best practice here to Australia.

“We talk a lot around making the memorable unforgettable, and whilst we can’t control what happens on the field, our focus is on delivering unparalleled experiences for fans that transcend the sporting field.

“We look forward to delivering on that promise,” he told Ministry of Sport.