In recent months, the team at Ticketmaster Sport has made a huge leap, taking the business into Asia for the first time since 2008.
Here we hear from Adam Newsam, Managing Director of Ticketmaster Sport on his experiences of working in this vitally important region and the key learnings that have emerged along the way.
As anyone who works in the major sports event industry knows, this is an inevitable necessity for anyone in this space. We’ve seen a shift to the region after the UK’s “golden decade of sport” and the culmination of the 2017 IAAF and IPC World Championships in London, for which we were also privileged to be ticketing partner.
We have all watched as major sporting events grow in the region, based on the dynamics of world economics in general, and particularly growth in China where multi-billion dollar investments in sport shift focus to the region.
Whilst Asia is by no means the only place in the world to look to for major sports events, it’s clearly an important growth area for Ticketmaster Sport.
Alongside this however, we have been growing the sports business across our portfolio, through the acquisition of Tickethour in 2016 which brought Ticketmaster exponential growth in Belgium with the entire Jupiler Proleague, as well as in Norway, the Netherlands, UK, Qatar and Greece. Add to that wins in Poland with the American Football Association, in Germany with FC Kaiserslautern and a ground-breaking league-wide deal with the RFL for their Superleague Clubs in the UK. All these combined ensures we are seeing growth to be proud of, thanks to our cutting-edge products, world-class service and unparalleled marketing reach to tens of millions of fans.
I first travelled to Japan about 18 months ago, with an eye on the 2019 Rugby World Cup, following our record-breaking success with the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. What a business culture shock that turned out to be! I’ve been to Japan 7 or 8 times now, and our teams in Greece in the UK many more, and it’s fair to say we’ve all learned a huge amount about business practice and culture, often through trial and error, but also through some smart moves that set us up well from the start.
As part of Live Nation Entertainment, we made good use of our team in Tokyo, a mixture of Westerners and locals, to help us from day one. I’m hugely grateful to the team there for what they have done, and continue to do for us. They set us up right with the basics, the etiquette, contacts, and areas to watch out for – thank you Frank Takeshita and Martin Davis – couldn’t have done this without you.
Our second move was to find a business-minded lawyer, who as a bonus is a US-born, 25+ year resident of Japan, to further help us navigate not just the legal world, but business as well. I think lawyers are often underestimated (don’t tell our legal team I said that!) for their ability to help with more than just contracts, especially if you find someone with the right skill set. So, thanks also to Steve Chelberg at Squires for his part in this adventure.
Next up: a local partner. We quickly identified the team at Pia as a great fit for our business and culture, as well as having huge experience in sport in Japan having worked on FIFA World Cup 2002 and other major events. Do I look back and think we could have done this alone? Sure. We’re the leaders in our field globally, but I never wish we’d done this differently. Local partners in Japan are a huge asset and will change the dynamic of the project, as well as help navigate the inevitable hurdles.
After many months of discussions and negotiations, I’m proud to be sitting here as ticketing provider for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. We’ve launched the ticketing project successfully, and we are now in the throes of relocating our Project Director and Ticketing Systems Manager to Tokyo.
Ultimately we’re focused on helping to make Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan an incredible tournament. We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s going to be fun, and we’re going to learn a lot.