Last year we celebrated my Dad's 60th Birthday by organising hospitality for a Reading FC home match. As a loyal Royal it made sense to give my Dad an experience he would love and remember - and watching football was something we could all enjoy.
We purchased 6 places in the 1871 suite. The package was £62 + vat per person and included:
- Place at a table in the 1871 suite for dinner
- One course gourmet 'pub lunch'
- Access to a cash bar
- Match day programme and team sheet
- Match day entertainment
On the day we arrived and were shown to our table, impressed at the view our day started well. Unfortunately a power cut had meant that a full menu wasn't available and for some reason the bar was under-stocked so we only had access to beer and soft drinks unless we went to another area.
We tried to stay upbeat but with limited service it put a dampener on the day. The highlight ended up being the seats and the result - something that would have been the same if we had paid for regular seats.
For my Mum I think meeting Kingsley and Queensley!
After we got home we agreed that rather than just complain between ourselves we would provide feedback to the club.
My Mum took the initiative and rung the hospitality team eventually being introduced to Adam Benson - Commercial Director.
From the moment Adam heard our story he was apologetic, kind and caring. His customer service was exemplary. He offered my Mum and our family the opportunity to attend another match to give us a chance to see what Reading FC hospitality is really like.
This time we had a place in the Vice Presidents Suite (£85
The experience was amazing. 2 days later we are still talking about what a wonderful time we had.
Like before we were welcomed and shown to our table. This time we had:
- A chef assisted carvery
- Half time and full time refreshments
- Availble bar
- Premium seating
- Match day programme and team sheet
- Car park space
The carvery was delicious, the bar fully stocked and the experience at a different level. The lemon meringue pie for dessert was so good I persuaded everyone in my party to have it. Unlike before where staff seemed somewhat confused every time we asked a question the staff here were anticipating our requests, so when faced with an empty plate where pie once was they disappeared and a whole new pie appeared.
The only disappointment was that I filled up on the first two courses that I left no room for the cheese on offer.
While the Vice-Presidents Suite was smaller than the 1871 Suite and didn't over look the pitch it had a nice atmosphere and the staff were attentive. Fitting 10 people our table was a slight push - the other 4 people on our table were all men and as we tucked in a corner there wasn't much room to spare. One of the ladies working quickly arranged another table and allowed us to spread out so problem solved.
After dinner we made our way out to our seats and I can honestly say in all my years of going to games with my Dad I don't think I have ever had such a good view. Sat directly on the half way line, up by the TV cameras it was exactly where football should be watched from. Reading also put in a great performance winning 1-0 against a team just above them in the league. Happy day all round.
Our experience was enhanced by simple but effective service, blankets were provided to go outside - perfect for the under-dressed members of my family who hadn't anticipated the cold evening. At half time we had biscuits and tea/coffee on offer - exactly what we all needed and at the end of the match vegetable soup greeted us. Delicious and warming.
We were having such a great time that we stayed almost 2 hours after the match. We took part, and won, the pub quiz so our table shared a bottle of champagne. A great end to a great day.
We met old players and a childhood hero of mine - Michael Gilkes - who played for Reading when I was a kid.
And as chance had it 3 members of the Kaiser Chiefs were also in the Suite with us (you may remember I Predict A Riot and Ruby). As the champagne flowed I may have fan-girled.
Adam had ensured our experience didn't end there though.
He had organised that we could all stay overnight at the Madjeski Hotel at the ground. The gesture was much appreciated as we had come down from Birmingham and my sister and boyfriend had come from London. While neither location is a million miles way not having to get home after the match was great. We were able to relax and catch up as a family and as timing had it my Mum had just celebrated her 60th so it was celebrations all round.
The hotel stay included access to the on site health club so we started our Sunday morning with a swim and sauna before indulging in breakfast. It felt like being on holiday.
While we got our experience as a gesture of goodwill I would highly recommend spending the extra to do this experience over the 1871 Suite. We plan to head back on other occasions and if you are looking for a company event or prize for someone this would be perfect.
For all the years I sat in my season ticket seat I never imagined what was on offer in the hospitality area. I am almost more impressed at what the Madjeski Stadium can offer having seen behind the scenes that I ever thought I could be staring out at the pitch.
If you want to check out the full hospitality offering see here.
Thank you Adam and the team for making my Dad's 60th and our day unforgettable.