Hospitality packages for the Rugby World Cup combining game entry with exclusive experiences such as dining and live entertainment are being offered at all 12 match venues across Japan, with many already sold out despite relatively high costs.
Packages start from about 50,000 yen ($470) per person. Although key features differ depending on price, many packages include the best available Category A seats, food before the match, commentaries by former players and other guest speakers, and a commemorative souvenir.
According to STH Japan K.K., the company organizing the packages for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, the concept is well-established in the United States and Europe, where they are often used for corporate entertainment.
The most expensive of the packages, going for 2 million yen per person plus tax, includes seats for all seven matches at International Stadium Yokohama and a private meal at a nearby restaurant. It sold out within a few months due to demand from firms holding corporate receptions and business talks.
Sales are also going well for plans including bento boxed meals and commemorative souvenirs, similar to those offered for sumo box seats. These packages were made available for the first time for the Japan Rugby World Cup matches, the company said.
At the Ireland vs. Scotland match, held at the Yokohama stadium on Sept. 22, local and overseas rugby fans enjoyed pre-match drinks in a table-lined pavilion nearby.
Irish fan Martin Mangan soaked up the atmosphere with a smile and said it was "fantastic."
A Japanese general contractor worker who had purchased the package said, "It is an incredibly interesting endeavor. I hope this sort of culture spreads via the (Rugby) World Cup and the Olympics."
London-based Sports Travel & Hospitality Group Ltd. has provided spectator experiences for the Olympics and the World Athletics Championships, as well as the last three Rugby World Cups.
"This is first time we've tried it for a large-scale sports event in Japan," said Tomoyuki Shimada, head of marketing at STH Japan. "I want people to experience 'omotenashi' Japanese hospitality they can't forget."
STH Japan will also sell hospitality packages for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, including for the opening and closing ceremonies, swimming, and athletics events.
"We've even had inquiries from people wanting to have pre-Olympic experiences," said Shimada.