Daytona Downshifting on Chalet Size

Daytona International Speedway

(from Sports Business Journal, Feb 18, 2013) Guests at the Daytona International Speedway have expressed the need for a hospitality change and President Joie Chitwood III has responded.  They will stop filling the speedway with the large corporate sponsor tents, or race chalets.  In their place, there will now be smaller tents that will hold no more than 100 people.  Chitwood comments on the change saying “we’re chasing consumer demand and finding out there’s a nice uptick as it relates to smaller, individual hospitality.”

This decision was made in regards to the change in the corporate demand after the recession.  For example, in 2009, DuPont, the sport’s largest hospitality host, went from hosting 1,000 people each race down to just 300.  Jimmy Bruns, Vice President of Business Development at GMR Marketing, agreed with this movement stating, “Our customers want smaller, more genuine, better hospitality opportunities than hosting that many people in a tent.”

Tracks such as the Michigan International Speedway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are also working to revamp their tracks and seating arrangements and premium packages to reflect this change in demand.  This includes adding suites and other areas specifically designed for entertaining these smaller groups of people.  To stay budget-conscious, tracks are looking for innovative, inexpensive ways to create these new areas of entertainment.  When discussing their food court chalet that was just created, Michigan International Speedway’s Senior Director of Corporate Partnerships, Josh Burgett, commented “We want people to walk by and say, ‘How do you get in there?’ They’re going to hear, see and smell things. There will be live cooks. You will see show cars. You will hear entertainment.”  Creating more of a world-class experience for these smaller groups of people will also allow tracks to sell these packages at higher rates, therefor raising the margin for hospitality in food.  Instead of tracks selling a couple large race chalets, they will now be able to sell quite a few smaller packages that will better fit this new shift in corporate demand.  Burgett adds confidently, “We can do the things we need to do to improve hospitality.”