Whether taking over in the chair of a legend, following a legend onstage, or assuming an office after a beloved leader, we’ve all heard the saying "a tough act to follow." There are few things more difficult than following in the footsteps of greatness, and just as few are as easy as following an underwhelming performance, which is where the FIFA World Cup starting this spring in Rio finds itself.
There are many variables under a host city's control when planning for a major global event. Some of the most important, however, such as expectations from the previous host, are totally up to circumstance. Thanks to the ridiculous idea of hosting the Winter Olympic games in Vladimir Putin's undeveloped vacation town of Sochi and the economic meltdown preceding the last World Cup, Rio is primed to be a breakout success for four reasons:
Rio is a globally renowned vacation destination unlike anything we've seen in recent international events. The Germany World Cup of 2006 and London Games of 2012 had desirable enough locales, but nobody is mistaking the river Thames for Copacabana beach.
2) Prime Time TV
The Rio World Cup will air big games live in prime time for media-rich North America.
3) Football Popularity
Football is hitting an inflection point: Football, or soccer as it’s referred to stateside, is more popular than ever with ratings spiking for the English Premier League and the European competitions. What once was a sport of one or two global stars now features charismatic protagonists selling kits by the truckload in Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, Rooney and Suarez. (Don't worry, if you don't know who they are yet, you will after Rio).
4) Corporate Interest
The 2014 Olympics in Sochi saw country delegations actually returning blocks of unsold tickets while accommodations were underwhelming and the corporate crowd stayed away for safety reasons or due to lack of interest. The 2010 World Cup was an unmitigated disaster so bad it saw the collapse of a major ticket broker, venues left half full before the host starts giving away tickets, and a TV schedule unfriendly with the football loving world (Note: Many will point to "all-time high" ratings, but that was more due to better distribution. Rio will obliterate the ratings we saw in 2010.)
Ticket sales for the Rio World Cup have been brisk with every allocation selling out near instantly. The corporate crowd has flocked to the event and has swallowed up travel and hospitality packages at a record pace.
There are plenty of questions surrounding FIFA's marquee event. Will the infrastructure be in place? Will the violent lower class spill over into the tourist centers? Will Rio be ready for their place on the big stage? The key to all of these questions: They are within Rio's control. If they can stay out of their own way, we are set to witness the biggest global event in recent history.
-- Tony Knopp is co-founder and CEO of Spotlight Ticket Management, which manages more than 9 million corporate and business owned tickets globally with a value greater than a billion dollars. Email Tony or follow him on Twitter @SpotlightTMS.