This is a term that has particular cachet in football referring to the pampering enjoyed by VIPs and other guests before during and after the games. From luxuriant lounges and petit-fours to the finest seats in the house hospitality really means a truly memorable experience.
The task of ensuring that a good time is had by all falls to the Swiss company iSe-Hospitality AG which was awarded the exclusive worldwide rights to the official hospitality programme of the 2006 finals after a public tender in 2003.
"It is a massive project for us and means a great deal to the team because many of them will only experience one FIFA World Cup said Pascal Portes managing director of iSe in an interview with FIFAworldcup.com. "The FIFA World Cup is the biggest event in the world in the hospitality sector."
"The Olympic Games is also a major event but much smaller in terms of hospitality. I am not talking about the spectators but the many VIPs that have to be taken care of."
Portes' team have been refining their plans for the tournament for the last 18 months. "We have 12 full-time personnel on the production side. We had a 20-strong team during the FIFA Confederations Cup and will be increasing that to 60 or 70 for the FIFA World Cup itself. On top of that we also use a team of part-time employees who are dedicated to the project."
iSe have been allocated a total of 345000 tickets which will be offered in various packages ranging from 1900 to 500000 euros. The Sky Box package is the most exclusive offer and has been conceived especially for corporate clients. The Elite Prestige and Premier 'single-seat packages' will be available both to companies and private customers.
"We will be taking care of up to 400000 guests in the three programmes over the course of the FIFA World Cup said Portes illustrating the magnitude of the hospitality programme.
And demand for these packages is huge. With a year still to go before the opening game on 9 June 2006 in Munich 40 per cent of VIP tickets for the tournament in Germany have already been sold.
"We are very happy said Ulrich Linke managing director of the iSe subsidiary in Frankfurt. However he is hoping that sales figures will continue to rise once nations such as Brazil England France and South Africa qualify. China's elimination has come as a "blow" to iSe however as Asia's immense interest in VIP seats has already been shown by Japan who will be present in Germany.
Christopher Axer Hyundai Germany's sports marketing director is also at pains to underline the importance of hospitality: "Hospitality is an opportunity for us to add value to an event so that no customer will ever forget it and to present our own brand and its benefits."
Axer was extremely pleased with the range of concepts on offer. "There are a number of options for people to choose from according to the requirements of their company he said. In Germany next summer five-star hospitality will be de rigueur.