The Negotiation

In this episode of The Negotiation, we speak with Greg Turner, an industry leader in live sports and entertainment events and venue management in China. He is the Founder and Managing Director at Shenzhen High Performance Event Management, which manages and promotes events at the Shantou University Sports Park. We discuss 1500 years of sports evolution in China; why team sports have taken longer to develop; the role the government plays; how foreign sports brands can and should connect with the China fan base; and expectations for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Enjoy!

Show Notes

Topics Discussed and Key Points:
●      How sports evolved in China over the past 1500 years
●      Why team sports have been slower in China
●      The role that the Chinese government plays in sports
●      What reform in the Chinese sports industry currently looks like
●      How the sports entertainment world looks in China with regards to live events
●      How foreign organizations can connect with sports fans in China
●      What is a “venue” in China?
●      What Greg expects for the 2022 Winter Olympics
Episode Summary:
Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Greg Turner, an industry leader in live sports and entertainment events and venue management in China. He is the Founder and Managing Director at High Performance, which manages and promotes events at Shantou University Sports Park. Greg himself led the development of the STU Sports Park; a $110 million project donated by the Li Ka Shing Foundation to Shantou University.
Before Greg’s involvement with STU, he served as the General Manager at XingYang Sports Culture Development, having been recruited directly by China’s first-ever Winter Olympic Gold medalist Yang Yang to manage her investment into the development of ice sports in China. During his eight months working on the initiative, Greg led his team in building up various grassroots programs for ice hockey, figure skating and short-track speed skating, establishing Feiyang as Shanghai’s premier public ice-skating facility.
Listen in as Greg talks about the factors that shaped the development of the sports industry and culture in China, from their unique government-driven character to the Soviet-era roots that motivate the nation to dominate the global sports world.
Greg then talks about the differences between sports cultures in the West and in China, what foreign organizations should focus on when looking to establish themselves in the local sports industry, and the reforms that the industry is currently undergoing.
Finally, Greg explains how live events are organized and promoted in China as well as his thoughts on the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Key Quotes:
“Sports in China operates a lot different than what we’re used to—it’s very government-driven. Government policy lays the framework for how it’s going to be developing. That dates back to 1918 when the first paper that Mao Zedong published was on the lack of personal fitness for Chinese people and how that was impacting their ability to build a strong nation.”
“[China aims to have sports consumption] become one of the new pillars of the Chinese economy. They’re shifting away from manufacturing and they’re trying to have more of a balance between service and manufacturing—maybe more on the service side. Sports are seen as part of that basket of industries that are going to develop the national economy and help it keep growing.”
“Sports, [for the Chinese] is just one piece of the entertainment diet that they have. If they have to choose between watching their favorite player or favorite team play a game or watching a movie with friends, it’s actually a really difficult decision. If you add in dinner, they’re probably going to choose the dinner first and foremost. So, sports doesn’t have that same drive and passion that it has in the West.”
“Doing business in China is kind of like boiling water: There’s nothing going on for a long time then, all of a sudden, everything explodes. [...] I think sports is right on the cusp of boiling point.”
“With everything going on in the world in China and in the U.S., one of the things that I take heart in is that sports is a great uniter. We’ve seen that in the past and I hope we can see that again as we go through the next few years.”

What is The Negotiation?

Despite being the world’s most potent economic area, Asia can be one of the most challenging regions to navigate and manage well for foreign brands. However, plenty of positive stories exist and more are emerging every day as brands start to see success in engaging and deploying appropriate market growth strategies – with the help of specialists.

The Negotiation is an interview show that showcases those hard-to-find success stories and chats with the incredible leaders behind them, teasing out the nuances and digging into the details that can make market growth in APAC a winning proposition.