4 ways hotels can play with Esports

(esports in arena)

Hoteliers love sports. And they should. It drives business to hotels in multiple ways; Sports teams in town for some good old-fashioned competition. Folks congregating at the bar to watch the pros duke it out in a variety of athletic rivalries. It all adds up to a tidy chunk of profits by helping sell more rooms and lots of food and drink at on-site bars and restaurants.

That’s all good, but what if I told you there’s a massive new sports trend lurking just below the horizon the hotel industry has essentially ignored? And the profit potential for lassoing this market is huge?

I’m talking about Esports. That’s right: Esports are to explode into the American consciousness big time. Here’s how I know. ESPN now has an entire news section dedicated to it, Esports events are selling out arenas, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find energy drinks when a competition is in town. OK, I made that last one up.

In the lodging business, hoteliers have been confiding in me about some upcoming projects that’ll focus on this phenomenon and I recently did a podcast with casino resort operator Affinity Gaming proving this is a viable way to get people engaged at your hotel while they empty their wallets.

Now is the perfect time to capitalize on this emerging craze. Here are some ways to leverage the trend:

1. Host Weekly Esports Night

Create a competition at the hotel where locals can compete. People flocked to trivia nights for years, so this builds upon that waning fad, except your customers don’t need to know obscure facts to have fun. Set it up in the bar or in that underutilized conference room. Be sure to have lots of food and drinks on hand to sell, especially those energy drinks and junk food staples. One tip: Serve food that doesn’t get hands all mucked up. It's hard to play Madden 17 with sticky-icky buffalo wing fingers.

2. Partner with Esports Events

They’re more frequently selling out arena across the country. A new venture called AD+D just formed this week with the intention of bringing these events to venues all over. Convention center hotels should be jumping on partnership opportunities here, and smaller hotels should be finding ways to be named "official" hotels for these events because they bring lots of folks into town, potentially making your city the ComicCon of video gaming tournaments.

3. Create an Esports-Focused Lounge

Take some of that dead space in the lobby and develop an Esports focused lounge. These would work great in capturing regular business from millennials. Pac Man and Space Invaders used to make tons of coin in bars and lounges before home systems took over. There was even a time when family focused resorts and hotels were putting in Nintendo systems in guestrooms. People still want to play video games, and be social while doing it. Bring it out of the room and into the main areas of the hotel to create positive energy.

4. Sponsor an Esports Champion

Attention major hotel brands!! This is an opportunity you clever marketers need to jump on right now. You’re all out there toting your millennial-focused hotel brands, yet you have no millennial spokesperson. This is an opportunity waiting to be pounced upon. Young hotel goers follow players like the rock gods from the 1970s, or like teenaged girls and Elvis or the Beatles. To make it easier for you, here’s a link to the list of the top Esports gamers in the world: http://www.esportsearnings.com/players. You’re welcome, and feel free to hire me for unsolicited advice anytime.

What do you think of the Esports trend? Am I onto something, or should I just lock myself in a room and play Frogger all day long? Let me know with an email at [email protected], or on Twitter and Instagram @TravelingGlenn and share your opinions with me.

Glenn Haussman is editor-at-large for HOTEL MANAGEMENT. His views expressed are not necessarily those of HOTEL MANAGEMENT, its parent company Questex Media Group, and/or its subsidiaries.