ATPI Events reflects on a great edition of The Ocean Race 2022 - 23
The Ocean Race is one of the largest and, above all, most challenging sailing competitions in the world. Since 1973 the race has been held every three years and takes sailing teams around the globe. ATPI Sports Events was already involved in the 2014-15 and 2017-18 editions, ATPI returned as the Official Hospitality Agency for the 2022-2023 edition. This means that ATPI was responsible for providing guest experiences and hospitality programs for the races’ partners, sponsors, and suppliers where sustainability takes center stage.
The Ocean Race 2022-23 edition, started in Alicante and took the teams from January to June in seven legs to Cape Verde, Cape Town (South Africa), Itajaí (Brazil), Newport (USA), Aarhus (Denmark), (flyby) Kiehl (Germany), The Hague (Netherlands), and Genova (Italy). As in every edition, the boats make a stop in each city, where an Ocean Live Park is created in the harbor. During these stops, the competition between the sailing teams continues with ‘in-port’ races. These stops provide the perfect opportunity to experience The Ocean Race at the heart of the action. And that experience is exactly what ATPI offers with its guest experiences and hospitality programs: the ultimate Ocean Race experience, with a focus on sustainability.
A significant part of The Ocean Race experience is already ensured by the heroism of the competition. “It’s truly an extraordinary race,” says John Bergmann, Commercial Head of Events Events at ATPI. “You wouldn't want to spend even a week on such a boat. Eating food from pouches, sleeping on a stretcher, using a bucket as a toilet. And it can get quite dangerous along the way. The farewell as the boats depart from Alicante, the race's starting point, is accompanied by loud team songs as the boats set sail, and family members waving goodbye to their loved ones, hoping to see them all return safely.” Janneke van Aartrijk, Program Manager at ATPI, adds, "There are a lot of stories within The Ocean Race. I think that heroism contributes significantly to the experience of sponsors and partners. With our guest experiences and hospitality programs, we aim to bring guests as close to that experience as possible.”
Tailored to Customer Desires
The program provided by ATPI can include various components such as welcoming the boats upon their arrival, a tour on one of the participating sailing boats, a visit to the One Blue Voice Pavilion, or ‘sailing along’ during an in-port race or the start of a new leg. On a small, fast VIP boat, guests can get close to the action, and an onboard commentator provides extra information about the race. "Guests also have access to the Sailors Terrace," Bergmann explains. "That is the race's hospitality area, where sailors also gather. To showcase all that we offer, we've developed a brochure. Nobody will book the program exactly as presented in the brochure, as everyone wants something different. However, through that brochure guests become aware of the possibilities, and we can start building a tailor-made guest experience. In the context of sustainability, we thoughtfully considered whether to print the brochure and, if so, what to choose in terms of quantity and type of paper. Even the type of ink was considered in the process.”
Sustainability does indeed run as a common thread through the guest experiences and hospitality programs offered by ATPI. This environmentally conscious approach aligns not only with ATPI's values but also with the objectives of The Ocean Race itself. The organization aims to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and become entirely climate-neutral by 2040. The event's sustainable ambitions are emphasized by the organization's endorsement of the United Nations' 'Sports for Climate Action’ initiative and participation in the Race to Zero campaign. The sailing boats collect data along the way on water quality, water health, microplastic pollution, and the impact of climate change on oceans. In the Ocean Live Parks, there are free water refill stations, zero use of single-use plastics, and recycled materials are used as much as possible.
"Sustainability goals are truly integrated into every aspect of The Ocean Race's organization," says Janneke van Aartrijk. “They don’t just want to be climate neutral; they ultimately want to leave a positive impact on where the race has taken place. Just like us. This also challenges the guest experiences and hospitality programs we organize for their sponsors and partners. What does ATPI? For instance, we look at the hotels and dining establishments where we accommodate our guests. Are they avoiding single-use plastics? What’s the hotel’s location, and do they offer electric transportation? Are the restaurants operating in a responsible way, offering vegetarian options and certified seafood?” And it doesn’t stop there. The Ocean Race calculates the overall event’s impact, including the impact of an individual guest participating in a two-day program. ATPI ensures that data such as flights, accommodations, transportation, food, and beverages, and even boat trips are all factored in. With the help of this calculation, The Ocean Race ensures that the resulting figure from this calculation should more than offset the impact by the end of the program, making it a climate-positive event.
Such practical matters and hard calculations are one aspect, but ATPI goes even further. Janneke van Aartrijk says, “We also want to take guests on the journey of the larger underlying narrative of why and how the hospitality programs are designed to be as sustainable as possible. Viewing the sustainability aspect from a hospitality perspective is challenging. We’re dealing with paying customers, and unfortunately, it’s still the case that a sustainable choice is often the more expensive one. What’s crucial for us is to be transparent about the choices we make. What are we already doing in terms of sustainability, and what is still pending? An event like The Ocean Race certainly helps to put climate issues on the global map. With our hospitality programs, we’re proud to contribute to that.”
Bergmann agrees and concludes: "You don’t need to be a sailor to find The Ocean Race remarkable. We are extremely proud to be the Official Hospitality Agency for The Ocean Race 2022-23 edition, and I hope that we get to experience many more editions. We’ve been working together for a long time and understand each other perfectly. Our guests will take the benefits of that.”