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Advantages are numerous for venueswho use pre-event data. By Aaron Hamilton STADIUMS:


           what avenues venues are taking to enhance the event-day experience through tools such as hi-speed Wi-Fi, ordering food to your seat, im- proved halftime entertainment, better acoustics, and so on. However, rarely do I see much discussion about the operational components of delivering an event and actually getting this fundamental element right before worrying about the value adds. I’ve recently been following an event that took place over several nights as part of a concert tour at a venue that has been operating for a number of years. You would expect that the operations would be pretty strong given the number of events this venue has hosted, yet (admittedly I wasn’t in attendance so I am simply going from the various feedback I have had and social media elements), there were a number of operational failures in particular to transport whereby fans queued for two hours for a bus, an entry process where they ran out of wristbands and subsequently lost control of the entry process, lengthy queues to concession outlets, as well as long queues to toilet facilities,   failures at this venue. Whilst ordering food to your seat, having great Wi-Fi and a big su-

per-sized screen are all great value adds, the fundamental operational   experience before these nice new add-ons have even been activated for the consumer and are ultimately irrelevant to the guest experience given the operational failures. These failures reinforce the point of consideration - should we be placing more emphasis on getting the  Obviously, there are venues that regularly deliver operationally ex- cellent events, and most venues I imagine have an event which they could say felt like the perfect event operationally. However, my ques- tion is this: why isn’t every event perfect? One area that I believe we haven’t made good use of so far is data analytics and using pre-event data to support our operational planning and ensure the operational failures mentioned above do not happen at our events. In my experience, data is poorly used, and a lot of data is obtained via post-event reports which identify elements that worked well at an event and those where improvement is required. Why are we so wor- ried about post-event and in-event surveys to get data from which an assessment will be made as to the success of that particular event?  understand the upcoming events consumer and planning various ele- ments of the event based on this intelligence? Data analytics supports all of the above questions and is an area I believe will receive a lot more attention in the near future. Consideration also needs to be given as to where the fan experi- ence starts. Is it once a guest arrives at the venue? Is it once they leave their home en route to the venue? Is it once they make the decision to purchase the ticket, which then includes receipt of various pre-event communications? My thoughts are that it is the latter of the three ex- amples, and the beauty of most ticketing systems is that we are able to obtain contact details of ticket purchasers, therefore making it fairly simple to obtain any pre-event intelligence to support the development of informed operational plans.

Whilst data is great, it is, however, only as valuable as the informa-

tion extracted, which is why analytics play an important function in ensuring informed plans are made during the operational planning phase whilst also ensuring informed decisions are made in the deliv- ery/event phase. Whilst a post-event survey provides feedback in the past tense, pre-

event surveys provide an opportunity for event organizers/venues to ask ticket purchasers a series of questions that will provide useful in-  which will ultimately support the operations plan. When tickets are purchased, we receive the contact details of purchasers so why not send these future guests at your venue a pre-event questionnaire to understand their intended behavior and requirements? From a few questions, we can understand how guests are getting to

the venue, how many people they are attending with, how early they are intending to arrive at the venue, whether they are likely to pur- chase food and beverage (and if so, their preferred choice of food and drink), and so forth. These simple questions provide us with some in-  guest services operations, as well as providing information to ensure  are many other questions you may wish to ask your prospective guests; however, the data obtained pre-event can be far more valuable than the data obtained post-event if the right questions are asked. As well as pre-event data, real-time analytics available during the

event provide the venue manager with the ability to use real-time data in a comparative approach in understanding whether operating plans       Real-time data can be obtained from the public transport systems

in providing data to prepare for visitor arrivals following which we can ensure there is enough resource at the gates or if necessary redirect people to gates with a smaller queue. CCTV/heat mapping systems   - bile. Points of sale data provide information to identify what catering outlets are busy and identifying outlets where additional support may be required, or there could be a PA announcement to advise guests in this queue of an alternate location where there are smaller queues. Whilst these examples can be made via the human element in an ob- servatory perspective, this is still a subjective decision as opposed to the informed decision that can be made through the utilization of data and per-determined algorithms. With all being said, and appreciating the fan experience is fun- damental to our operations, the underlying message here is that the basic venue operational elements are not forgotten when it comes to delivering a great fan experience. In doing so, using data correctly enables plans to be developed based on information that guests have communicated to the venue whilst also providing a platform to ensure informed decisions can be made during the event. FM

Aaron Hamilton is senior manager venue management (zone operations) – event operations of EXPO 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.


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