An operational approach to technology at Twickenham Stadium
Some sixty members of the European Stadium & Safety Management Association (ESSMA) assembled for the sold-out Fan Entertainment Workshop in Turin, Italy, on 3-4 October. The venue for the two-day event was Allianz Stadium, home of Juventus FC.
George Vaughan, Senior Project Manager at Rugby Football Union (RFU) focused his presentation on the operational approach to technology at Twickenham Stadium and its open-loop system.
To keep up with the expectations of fans, Twickenham is investing in digitalization as the digital natives will be the major consumer group in 10 years’ time. The 3 pillars to achieve this according to Vaughan are: Connect, Communicate and Conduct. The emerging generation of under 30’s expect a new kind of fan experience, with connectivity as a necessity rather than a nicety.
“We need to evolve the stadium experience in the same way that shopping centres have, with things like wireless parking, wayfinding, interactive digital displays, location-based messaging, Click & Collect, free Wi-Fi and charging points, personalised push offers, mobile & tablet POS, and frictionless payments. Just as there is an expectation from visitors of food, drink, public facilities and parking, this same expectation is quickly extending to Wi-Fi. There is growing evidence in the US to suggest that many young fans are leaving venues at half-time if there is poor or no connectivity. Just remember, every fan able to connect from their seat, is a potential marketer for your venue!”
George Vaughan, Senior Project Manager at RFU
In 2015, when England hosted the Rugby World Cup, Twickenham went contactless. Before the technology had been implemented, there were long queues at the bars during half-time which meant lost revenue. Since working with contactless transactions, queuing times have decreased from 18 to 4 seconds. During the Six Nations in 2017 for example, 60% of all transactions happened contactless.
For the past 18 months, Twickenham has opted for a Click & Collect feature allowing fans to pre-order food and beverages ahead and during an event to collect at designated locations. Additionally, Vaughan explained what Connected Hawking is and detailed that Twickenham has around 200 hawkers during major event days. These hawkers walk around with backpacks, buggies, mobile tills, etc. providing better contactless services.
Delivering an integrated stadium model with digital wayfinding using sales data to inform fans is the next step. In Twickenham’s new app features including Order2Seat, merchandise catalogues, Seat Finder, etc. will be implemented. Furthermore, they are looking at AR/VR solutions to engage with fans not present in the stadium during games.