The competitive online video games are known as esports. They bring excitement and competition to a world where traditional sporting events cannot. The global virtual audience for esports will surpass 700m in 2021, thanks to the explosion of popularity that occurred during COVID-19.
The hospitality and tourism industries suffered the opposite. The constant lockdowns resulted in a sharp drop and the near complete shutdown of tourism activities for many months.
The majority of professional sports matches and events took place behind closed doors. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, for example, received very little revenue because there were no tourists or fans attending the games.
A increase in spending on concessions, merchandise, parking, food and drink usually accompanies mega sporting events. Online viewership, however, only impacted travel plans and reservations to host cities.
Shouldn’t the hospitality sector be actively attracting fans of esports, given that the esports industry is growing rapidly and tourism has just begun to recover after lockdown? We wanted to see how the hospitality industry could convert esport fans into active tourists in our research. We conducted a survey of 549 fans of the competitive video game League of Legends and a 12-month study of active World of Warcraft gamers.
Fans, Esports and Live Events
The League of Legends 2021 world championship attracted over 4m online viewers. Even though online audiences were substantial, pre-pandemic, only a tiny fraction of the revenue was generated by ticket sales. This means that few fans would travel to attend live events.
Some areas have attracted large crowds. For example, Korea’s Sangam Stadium. The experience can be captivating for the spectators. The gameplay is shown on large immersive screens, which amplifies the tension and excitement in the crowd.
By not actively seeking out esports viewers, tourism and hospitality industries risk alienating an ever-growing global fanbase. The tourism and hospitality industry may lose out on the lucrative and attractive market.
Teams like Na’Vi, Alliance, T1, KT Rolster, OpTic and FaZe are fiercely competitive in League of Legends and Call of Duty. merchandise has become a big business in esports.
It is a great opportunity for cities to provide activities and events for those who attend competitive esports events. Consider, for instance, special teams-specific social spaces and fan zones to capitalize on the loyal followers. Fans who are die-hard will not miss these events because they bring excitement and passion to the sporting event.
Building excitement for events
Esports are experienced online in the form of a community. It is consumed largely without actual proximity to the other spectators.
A potential spectator will be more likely to travel alone or to hope to meet online friends for the first. Many people find it difficult to buy tickets and travel to an event.
local event provider can do more, however, by providing forums and discussion channels to build excitement and anticipation before the event. The online spaces could also be used to give fans advice on what to do and where to stay, making it easier to transition from the online world to the offline one.
Tourism needs to encourage online video game audiences to attend large live events in order to maximise the potential spending. Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock
The esports calendar is dominated primarily by the prestigious World Championship competitions, such as League of Legends, StarCraft II, and Crossfire. Smaller qualifiers or regional competitions are not as popular. They are usually only online.
Many fans find traveling internationally for competitions less attractive. Attending major sporting events can be expensive, especially for the younger audience of esports.
Local events can be a great way to introduce esports competitions in person for first-time spectators.
Star players are attracted to the game.
Esport salaries and prize money are increasing significantly. Prize money has been awarded to the winners of DOTA 2’s biggest esports events, totaling over $5 million (PS3.8million) .
By any measure, this makes them huge celebrities, and their presence at events can be an important draw for fans. The opportunity to meet and interact with stars is one-of-a-kind and should be included in the esports promotional strategy.
Organisers of events could provide additional opportunities for fans to watch players warm up and practice. The live event would be more valuable than watching it online.
Live events have not yet taken off as much as online viewing. If tourism and hospitality could attract even a fraction of the 700m online viewers for esports, this would be a new revenue stream that cities can benefit from.
Mega-esport competitions may become the biggest sporting events on the calendar. These events could fill entire stadiums, which would benefit hotels, bars, and shops as well as local tourism. Tourism is in decline everywhere as a result of the pandemic. The hospitality industry must be creative, find new opportunities such as esports, and entice massive audiences online to come and experience their passions on the ground.