Judging The Stadium Events & Hospitality Awards

The Stadium Events & Hospitality Awards is an annual celebration designed to continually drive-up standards and recognise the very best venues across the UK stadium industry.  Around 400 guests from 40+ stadia join together to celebrate the achievements of their stadia colleagues in a glittering awards ceremony.

Here are a few more details about how the categories are selected each year, and how the categories are all independently judged.

Award Categories

Each year the categories featured at the awards are selected by the Stadium Experience Leadership Team using feedback from the member venues of Stadium Experience, along with considerations for any wider developments which may affect how a stadium operates.  The categories available in 2023 will include:

*NEW* Non-Matchday Mystery Shopper Award – Recognising the professional and efficient teams handling sales enquiries for non-matchday events at stadia.  This is a mystery shopper corporate/business event sales enquiry call and follow up email correspondence.  The judging criteria is created by the Stadium Experience Leadership Team, with judging completed independently by HGEM.

Outstanding Contribution Award – Recognising those individuals or teams who are simply outstanding at what they do, and continuously shine. This can be something as part of their regular duties, or perhaps focusing on supporting the local community or business recovery from challenging times.  Judged by the independent judging panel.

Best Retail Catering Award – Recognising the best retail catering teams at stadia across the UK.  This team will demonstrate commercial growth, high quality food offerings or proactive sustainability improvements. Judged by the independent judging panel.

Matchday Sales Team of the Year Award – Recognising the very best matchday sales team in stadium venues across the UK.  Entries will demonstrate strategies for growth, brave new ideas, and overcoming challenges. Judged by the independent judging panel.

Non-Matchday Sales Team of the Year Award – Recognising the very best non-matchday sales team in stadium venues across the UK.  Entries will demonstrate strategies for growth, new ideas for unique and different events, creative use of their spaces, and overcoming challenges. Judged by the independent judging panel.

Best Stadium Events Venue Award – Recognising the very best stadium events venue within the UK. Judges are specifically looking for a stadium venue which consistently displays exceptional venue facilities and outstanding guest experiences. Judged by the independent judging panel.

Operations Team of the Year Award– Recognising the often unseen behind-the-scenes teams that make stadium events run so smoothly, going above and beyond the call of duty to provide the very best service to customers. Judged by the independent judging panel.

Chef Team of the Year Award – This is a live kitchen competition held as part of the HRC Event in London, and judged by Salon Culinaire expert judges. Chef teams have one hour to prepare, cook and present a three-course menu suitable for their Club Chairman to entertain the Head of the FA or RFU to dinner.

Visiting Football Directors Award – Voted for by Directors at each football club.  They are specifically asked to consider the welcome, service and catering when casting their votes.

Visiting Rugby Directors Award – Voted for by Directors at each rugby club.  They are specifically asked to consider the welcome, service and catering when casting their votes.

Matchday Hospitality Awards (Small, Medium & Large) – Experienced chef and hospitality experts attend a venue to try out their matchday offering. Each element is carefully considered and scored against strict criteria. This category is split into small, medium and large categories based on the number of hospitality seats on a matchday.

Overall Matchday Hospitality Award – As above, but instead pitches all venues against all, regardless of size.

Independent Awards Judging

Each award category is independently judged (Stadium Experience does not judge any of the awards).  Some categories are voted for by stadium directors, HGEM judge the Non-Matchday Mystery Shopper Award, Salon Culinaire judge the Chef Team Award, and others are decided by teams of experts with many years experience in their fields.


HGEM judges the Non-Matchday Mystery Shopper Award by providing a mystery guest programme to assess the quality of sales enquiry calls and follow up email correspondence.  HGEM are experts in their field, working closely with hospitality companies to measure and improve their guests’ experience. Their core services include mystery guest audits, building highly customisable feedback sites, optimising online reputation through review management, and bringing all the data together into one, award-winning Guest Experience Management platform – The Hub.

Salon Culinaire

Fresh Montgomery organises the Chef Team of the Year Award.  This is a live kitchen competition judged by specialist Salon Culinaire chefs who focus on immaculate hygiene, teamwork, quality and freshness of produce used, practicality, cost and suitability, originality, and of course taste and flavours.

Judging Panel

The majority of categories are judged by an independent panel who submit their first, second and third placed votes in each category – Chosen using strict criteria developed by the Stadium Experience Leadership Team in advance.  These votes convert to scores, with the highest scoring venues winning the top awards.

The judging panel for 2023 includes:

Read more about the biographies of our judging panel.

Matchday Hospitality Award Judging

The Matchday Hospitality Awards are judged separately, lead by Head Judge, Rod Bowker.  As Head Judge, Rod creates an expert team of judges, each with over 20 years experience in the chef and hospitality industries.

On the day the judge has a strict criteria report pack with them, which has been developed jointly by the Head Judge and the Stadium Experience Leadership Team.  Each full report is then validated by the Head Judge and Stadium Experience to ensure consistency across the board.  The full reports are made available to each venue after the awards event to aid the venues future learning and training.

The current list of judges are shown below, please click to read more about their culinary and hospitality experience.

Rod Bowker (Head Judge) Geoff Acott Lee Corke
Graham Crump Paul Gilmore Mark James
Ian Jaundoo Rob Kennedy Donald Leitch
David McKown Dennis Mwakulua Neil Thomson
Sue Woolcock


Find out more about The Stadium Events & Hospitality Awards, by emailing office@stadiumexperience.com.


  • Before Stadium Experience it was quite lonely as a venue sales manager, it’s a great platform to share/gain ideas and knowledge giving you the benefit from other like-minded individuals who understand the hurdles faced to achieve budget in a hard environment.

    Collette Salmon Non-Matchday Sales Manager - Liverpool FC
  • We have been a member of Stadium Experience since it began. Regular networking meetings provide valuable industry knowledge, whilst at the same time the ability to generate new relationships and cement existing relationships with other partner clubs. The benefit of combining with all members to share best practice and row the industry as a whole has been invaluable. Now, with around 60 members and the recent expansion to include members from Rugby stadia, the association is showing continued growth with very exciting times ahead.

    David Timms Senior Business Development Manager - Chelsea FC
  • Stadium Experience has provided us at Allianz Park Stadium with invaluable benefits. The bi monthly members meetings give the team the opportunity to meet with likeminded individuals, network and gain insight to the stadium industry as a whole. Enabling the teams to share best practice in our industry is unique and that’s exactly what Stadium Experience allows us to do! The support within the community is second to none, and it has also given us valuable exposure to event agencies looking to book events in our area. Each year we all look forward to the prestigious awards ceremony; Not only is it great fun! But it’s so great to see the hard work and dedication of the teams being recognised and celebrated!

    Aimee Richardson Business Development Manager - Saracens Rugby Club
  • I joined Stadium Experience four years ago when I started working for Fabulous Fan Fayre, representing two unique stadiums. Having previously worked for a large hotel chain, and being completely new to stadia, Stadium Experience immediately provided me with a wide network of supportive, like-minded business professionals to share ideas and best practice. Stadium Experience offers such a diverse wealth of knowledge, accessible at your fingertips, and the Members Meetings are extremely resourceful. The Marketing Manager (Debbie) has been absolutely brilliant to work with; she has been quick to respond to any queries that I’ve had, and is extremely proactive in sourcing new opportunities to showcase and raise awareness of the collection of stadiums, especially within the conference and event agency sector.

    Rebecca Pickard Director of Sales at F3 - Manchester City FC & Watford FC
  • Stadium Experience has not only created a brilliant networking opportunity for myself to connect with likeminded individuals across the football and rugby industry but also allowed me to visit many agents, exhibitions and events to showcase Stadium Experience as a whole and the venues I have represented. Working previously in a rugby stadium and now a football stadium the benefits of Stadium Experience membership has been invaluable. The bi monthly meetings are a great way to share best practise, ideas and to know that there is a group of others facing the same challenges and successes as you in the world of stadia.

    Jennifer Barry Conference and Events Sales Manager - Stoke City FC
  • We are a member of Stadium Experience and have found the relationship very rewarding and the investment worth every penny. They have given us some great contacts in the industry, some great enquires and also the benefits of sharing best practises between sporting venues in the Country. The marketing support is second to none and very informative with great support and guidance when needed too. The meetings you attend is a great opportunity to network with other Clubs and gives you opportunities to build relationships with instead of being competitors. Keep up the great work Stadium Experience Team !!

    Debi Gross Sales Manager - St. George's Park
  • Stadium Experience has been a huge part of the strategy put in place by Gloucester Rugby to increase exposure for non-matchday events. By miles the friendliest and most honest group I am part of, ROI was achieved very early on in our membership.

    Angela Sanders Head of Venue Sales - Gloucester Rugby Club
  • I have been involved with Stadium experience for a number of years now, membership of this organisation gives us the chance to network and share best practice with other similar venues. The meetings are immensely valuable and the membership fee is the best value money any stadium can spend.

    Chris Gibson Director of Catering & Hospitality - Burnley FC
  • Being a member of Stadium Experience has provided The Totally Wicked Stadium with a fantastic platform to promote ourselves as an independent venue alongside some of the most prestigious stadium's in UK & Northern Island. It offers members a fantastic opportunity to share ideas and share best practice and also keep up to date with industry trends.

    Sonia Caldwell Conference & Events Sales Manager - St. Helens RFC
  • Being a member of Stadium Experience has been hugely beneficial to Ashton Gate Stadium and has provided a real platform for us to promote ourselves as an independent venue following our £45m investment. It's a great way to share best practice with other stadia and work with a lovely bunch of people.

    Justine Kebby Head of Hospitality Sales - Bristol City FC
  • Having been Stadium Experience members since the beginning (and the first!) of the rugby membership, we couldn't be prouder to be associated with such a friendly and professional collaboration of people.

    Debbie and her team have always helped us with last minute requests, supported to aid awareness of Sixways Stadium within the C&E world; including us in relevant articles within the well written magazine.

    No amount of thanks can be described with the magnitude of information, support in marketing and sharing in best practices, from both the leadership team and other stadium members.

    Stadium Experience are indeed 'Conference & Event Champions'.

    Guayarmina Molyneux Business Development Executive - Worcester Warriors Rugby Club
  • Norwich City Football Club have been a member of Stadium Experience for many years now, and find it extremely beneficial. It is a fabulous opportunity to network with like minded individuals, and to share best practice and advice.

    It is an extremely supportive group to be part of, and also a great way to gain new leads and enquiries for the venue.

    Helen Gooch Head of Conference, Meetings and Events - Norwich City Football Club
  • Being part of Stadium Experience has been beneficial for both the Meetings and Events and Match Day Retail Catering business. The membership gives us a brilliant networking opportunity, enables us to share best practice with other similar venues and is a great platform for getting advice and new ideas.

    Chris Reed - Sodexo (Newcastle United FC)


Advertise your product or service to over 50 stadium venues.

Find out how Stadium Experience can help you

Find Out More


  • Head of Matchday Hospitality Sales at Burnley FC

    Burnley Football Club
    More information