The FIFA Confederations Cup Germany 2005 has strongly hinted at the grandiose scale of next year's FIFA World Cup finals.
The teams have turned on the style. The fans have generated a wonderful atmosphere. And the sun has shone almost uninterrupted. Another good reason to return in 12 months is the hospitality programme, which, with its welcoming staff and excellent cuisine, aims to ensure every guest enjoys a memorable, top-quality experience, doubling the fun at the football.
The person in charge of hospitality is Iris Pawelski, the 'Head of Sales Center' for iSe Hospitality, the Swiss company with the worldwide rights to the official hospitality programme for next summer's finals. FIFAworldcup.com caught up with Pawelski at Saturday's Germany-Brazil semi-final, and found her in the hospitality area more than three hours before kick-off, familiarising herself with her surroundings in the Frankenstadion.
"I go over everything extremely thoroughly one last time, and make sure I actually know where everything is," she smiles. Pawelski has to be prepared for every eventuality. "This is important, as we need to be capable of informing our guests how long it takes to reach the stadium from the hospitality area, for example, and how they find their seats and the toilets."
The next step is a final briefing for the attractive hostesses. "All our hostesses are provided with a guest list and seating plan. Following the briefing, I go and freshen up, ready to greet our first visitors. And after that, we're focused exclusively on our guests," she explains, all the while swiftly sorting out a problem with the night's seating plan. Customer satisfaction has the highest priority here.
Pawelski is not personally responsible for selecting personnel, but she was still delighted by LOC president Franz Beckenbauer's positive comments about the staff. "The local hostesses' service orientation has been truly excellent," she says. "For example, if a visitor loses his bearings and needs to be reseated, our hostesses have reacted in an extremely charming way, conveying the request in a pleasant and friendly manner."
Pawelski only feels any sense of comfort once everyone is seated and no thorny difficulties have arisen. However, her job is far from over. She now has time to cater personally to the guests' needs. "My job also includes 'direct guest management' with our customers, finding out whether everything is OK. Naturally, I'm also responsible for keeping our customers fully informed about FIFA World Cup Hospitality Packages," she remarks.
She has a little time to herself during half-time as the VIPs remain inside the stadium. But after the final whistle, the convivial atmosphere returns as the guests gather once again in the hospitality area. After 90 minutes of football and the 15-minute break at half-time, no-one feels like sitting down again straight away. The game will be analysed and contacts firmed up. Pawelski calls it a day only after the last visitor has left the tent. "Then we get the whole crew together and have a relaxing drink."
For Pawelski, the FIFA Confederations Cup is a serious dress rehearsal for next year's FIFA World Cup. She can hardly wait for the main event. "I'm already fired up for next year's World Cup. It was always a personal goal to be part of it, and that's what I've achieved," she enthuses.
There can be no doubt the hospitality team is ready for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and this level of commitment and service all but guarantees a successful event next year.