First Impressions: Tips for an F1 Host City

Guest post by , editor of Formula One information site  Mr. Marquez is a French national currently living in Australia, and attends a live F1 race at least once a year. Add your comments, thoughts, and tips in the comment section below.

F1 spectators are split in two distinct categories: the curious local wondering what the fuss is all about, and the traveller coming from interstate or overseas.

With regards to the first category of visitors, it is very much local knowledge that prevails and hoteliers in and around Austin will have a fairly good clue as to what to expect.

The second category of spectators is quite interesting though. They tend to be well educated and technically minded (no surprise there – following F1 demands it, to a certain extent) and of course they are passionate enough about their sport to the point of spending thousands of dollars to attend just the one event.

Visitors from Australia, Canada and the UK should actually be quite open-minded if India last year proves to be a good form guide. That is not to say that they expect to pay through the nose just because it is F1. They are quite savvy and if the USGP experience does not live up to their expectations, then this could jeopardise the future of the event. An example of that could be setting prices to Singapore levelswhilst the USGP ends up being no more than ‘just an F1 race,’ a la Korean Grand Prix.
At this stage, it is too early to tell what we can expect from COTA and the local culture/entertainment scene. It would therefore be advisable to wait and see how the first year pans out and only justify price increases according to revenue management matrixes rather than apply a premium for the sake of the event.

Careful planning will also ensure customers returning and recommending this or that fine establishment. F1 fans literally live and breathe F1 day-in day-out. A quick look on Twitter will verify that. Wouldn’t it make sense to have all practice, qualifying sessions and race replayed or on demand? The vast majority of ticket holders opt not to rent a FanVision unit and like to relive the day’s action when back at base. It might be worth checking whether SpeedTV or Fox offers such services. Alternatively, hotels should check they have enough bandwidth for their guests to stream such content from their room.

Spectators will also expect that contingency measures are in place when things go wrong. They usually do in the case of a first event as there is no previous experience to draw from.
In the case of hoteliers, think of greater flexibility than usual. This could be having more knowledgeable front desk staff before and after on-track action, to help organise transport to the circuit or airport, or even a seamless check-out for those returning late from COTA with an early flight on the Sunday after the race.

It is also worth noting there will also be four French drivers in the 2012 F1 crop. The French tend to be seen as impatient and blunt when addressing people in English. Not that they are rude, but probably frustrated by the language barrier and cultural differences. Hotels could ready themselves and hire seasonal French speaking staff, which should also go down well with Quebecers. And whilst higher rated hotels will have staff trained to deal with such situations, smaller hoteliers could benefit from being prepared to such eventualities.

Austin probably has all the ingredients to make the USGP a long and profitable success story. To make this happen, the local business community will need to work together to support the organisers, promoters and local government and shift away from the ‘quick buck’ mentality. The first year is a dry run. Start counting your chips from year 2.


Austin Festival photo credit: Nathan Peck

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3 Reviews

  1. Sue DeMar, 5 years ago

    Are you kidding me? Insulting the French already? If you want to see how things are done, go to the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal has it’s sh*t together and, wow, they speak French, and wow, they are polite and gracious.

       -   Reply
    • ARH, 5 years ago

      Hi Sue, our guest blogger Damian is French, and we’re grateful to have him share these experiences from his culture’s perspective.

         -   Reply
    • @Damien_Marquez (, 5 years ago

      Hi Sue,

      Thanks for raising your concern.

      I am indeed a French national currently living in Australia and speak from my experience living in Sydney and London in the UK over the last 14 years.

      The practice of foreign language is abysmal outside of the major cities, even in Le Mans which hosts multiple premier motorsport events such as the Le Mans 24 Hours and the MotoGP round.

      I have also observed the behaviour of my compatriots at grands prix in Melbourne, Malaysia and Singapore. Whilst some of them are perfectly able to express themselves in English, the majority struggles.

      There is now a business advantage in having hotel staff familiar enough with the language now that interest in the sport is growing again in the country.

      Romain Grosjean, the current GP2 champion, will be driving a front(-ish) running car, Jean-Eric Vergne is a Red Bull backed promising talent, Charles Pic is well connected and will be driving the media savvy Marussia F1 Team. In addition, Ferrari Academy driver Jules Bianchi will be driving half of the free practice 1 sessions for Force India.
      Having four drivers in the field increases the probability of one of them being successful enough to re-ignite the desire to travel to grands prix en masse.
      This compares to the last time France had a driver in F1 was when Sebastien Bourdais drove for Scuderia Toro Rosso.

      Lastly, as you have correctly mentioned, French Canadian is the main language spoken in Montreal, hardly a barrier in the way of French people to communicate with the locals.

      I hope this reply makes sense and brings some context to my original point.

         -   Reply

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