Crossing the bridge between safety and fan delight

Stadium safety and fan experience are both important matchday aspects. However, it is often forgotten that there is a correlation between the two departments.

As stewards are often the first point of contact fans encounter, they are a key component in how fans perceive their stadium visit. If during a frisk, stewards greet fans in a friendly manner and provide the necessary information, fans will see this as a positive experience. However, if your stewards don’t have any contact with the fans and are rather harsh, this experience will often be experienced in a negative manner.

During the ESSMA Summit, several speakers touched upon the importance and correlations of merging safety and fan experience. 

Fan engagement at the core of Arsenal FC’s stewarding programme

Arsenal FC strives to have its matchday operation run smoothly. To achieve that, one of the major goals for stewards is to deliver an enthusiastic meet and greet at Emirates Stadium. As good experiences tend to make visitors behave better, it's key to make them feel welcome and create a pleasant atmosphere.

Tomorrowland: ensuring an incredible experience from a safety perspective

The correlation between safety and fan experience is not only important for sporting events, also music events understand the importance of it. At Tomorrowland, ensuring a safe venue is always top-of-mind when further enhancing the festival experience. 

Nevertheless, the crew delivers serious efforts in preparations not to be enslaved to routines. Routine is a buzzkill for creativity and innovation, essential to a festival as Tomorrowland. So they try to let go or rethink habits during the preparation period. But once plans are made, they have to be executed thoroughly.

‘We do believe that all the effort that’s being put in the backstage, will show off on the frontstage to all festival visitors.’’

Sammy Lakwijk, Head of Risk at Tomorrowland

SLO’s can make a difference

A concept which is growing in importance regarding contact with fans is SLO Management. A Supporter Liaison Officer is the bridge between a club and its fans. They do not only build a relations with the fans, security staff and police but they also ensure that everyone is satisfied. When (ultra) fans for example want to design a tifo or organise actions to create a nice atmosphere, an SLO guides everything in the right direction and makes sure that there are no unexpected issues during the match. Therefore, they are key to keeping the fans satisfied while creating a unique and memorable atmosphere on matchdays.

Since 2012, there is a network of 38 trained SLOs spread over 22 Swedish clubs of which 10 are working full-time for their respective clubs. 

Stewarding training would benefit from higher focus on customer experience

Another interesting aspect is the hours of training stewards receive and the topics touched upon during these sessions, which ESSMA analysed in its Stewarding Benchmark Report. The main topics focus on safety, security and healthcare, while only a few elements are linked to customer experience. Meaning there is still a lot of room for growth to train stewards to become more service- and customer-oriented.

How is your club closing the gap between safety and experience?

Want to know more about these insights? Discover all related presentations including the cases presented by Arsenal FC, Djurgårdens IF and Tomorrowland on our Knowledge Platform.

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