In conversation with Ben Mannion: Could Queensland become the sports capital of the world?

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

Could Queensland become the sports tourism capital of Australia the world?

Ben Mannion, our newly appointed Chief Sports Officer, is in the box seat to share his views, drawing upon his 25 years experience in the Sporting Industry, as well as a lifetime of living and breathing sport.

Ben tell us, what lights your fire when it comes to Sports?

Sport has always had such an impact on me throughout my life. It really comes down to its unmatched social influence. Not only does it bring people joy and excitement, but it brings entire communities together for a common cause. One of my fondest achievements was working on the strategy for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. It was about connecting communities, using sport as the vehicle to bring people from different nations and cultures together, and football was that conduit.

The world of sport is rapidly evolving, what do you believe is next on the horizon for Queensland?

I truly believe that Queensland can become the sports tourism capital of the world. This is my vision for Queensland and where I believe some of the biggest opportunities exist. The question myself and the Luminair team can help answer, is how to entice high-performance teams to visit, play and train in Queensland in the lead-up to the games, and beyond.

There are hurdles such as geography to overcome, however what we hold in our hands is an opportunity to maximise the benefits that sport can deliver (which are primarily centred on social and economic benefit). All levels of Government, the sporting industry, individual venues owners and our communities- all have an important role to play.

So, what should the Government, venue owners, and the sporting industry be leaning into now to ensure they have their bases covered for the future?

To deliver future-proofed strategies, products, and experiences, our knowledge suggests that there are five critical areas our clients should be considering:

1. Commercialisation and Diversification of Sporting Bodies

Sporting organisations and associations are now needing to look at alternative business models to ensure that they remain relevant and sustainable; both financially and to meet the changing industry and consumer needs. This has meant that some sporting organisations have developed alternative revenue streams, have merged with other bodies, or now deliver a broader expanse of offerings.

2. Digitalisation of Sport

The pandemic accelerated digital usage and created a long-term shift in how people interact, connect, and share online. It is now more vital than ever for businesses to embrace digital technologies and invest in an integrated digital approach that seeks to create meaningful engagement between brand, sport, athletes, and audiences all year round.

4. Community Engagement & Mobilisation

Age and health, ability, socio-economic factors, time availability and parenting commitments are simply a few of the factors impacting Queenslander’s participation in physical activity. It wasn’t so long ago that 25% of Queenslanders had not participated in sport, exercise or recreation in the past 12 months. The engagement of community and mobilisation are vital going forward. When Queenslanders are active, there is great upside to business, the economy, and general health and wellbeing outcomes.

5. The “New Frontier” of Events

One significant question for us all is: What does the post-pandemic era hold for consumer preferences in the way events are delivered and consumed?

What is the biggest hurdle facing us in reaching this vision?

Funding is a significant hurdle. Sport is a complex industry with multiple funding sources and multiple entities to distribute the funding to. This can create pitfalls and all stakeholders need to find better ways and funding models to entice the best athletes, teams, and events to Queensland.

Another significant challenge is our geography. In comparison to our smaller States or international counterparts, Queensland is extremely expansive. Therefore, the big picture question is, how do we bring world class events to Queensland, so the best athletes have to come, train, and play here over the next 10 years?

What would you say to someone who doesn't even know where to begin?

In my experience, most clients can articulate what their “ideal” is and where their goal posts are. My role at Luminair is to help connect the dots and ensure that the path is well-designed for them to reach this point; with short-term and long-term goals on the way to realising the ultimate vision.

Finally, what is one of your best sporting memories people may not know about?

While I might have a background in banking, finance, media, major events and sport, most people don’t realise that I once became a Scuba Dive Instructor in Dahab, Egypt where I lived for 12 months in the early 2000’s. I clocked up over 300 dives in the Red Sea, which is something I am very proud of.

Are you ready to take a deep dive with Ben today? Connect with Ben via LinkedIn by scanning the QR code below.

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