Last month, the second successful Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific conference returned to the Singapore Sports Hub; one of the most progressive integrated sports, entertainment and lifestyle hubs in the region. Along with key decision makers from a number of the heavy-weight sporting and special event venues across the region, I was fortunate enough to attend and present at this year’s conference, which offered more than 20 informative sessions across three days and facilitated many a constructive discussion on the current challenges and opportunities facing the industry.
The Big Topics
The big ticket agenda items were venue design and construction, technology selection and schedule planning. The overarching theme was how to incorporate these elements to build fan engagement and future-proof both new projects and existing facilities. In-depth discussions provided insights into how project planners can design for extreme climates, create designs that encompass cultural specificities as well as strategies for perfecting the delicate balance of aerodynamics and comfort. Other central discussions included choosing and implementing technologies that provide practical functionality while delivering the wow factor (arguably the most important aspect to draw “couch fans” out of their “hives” and into the venues). And technology was where I weighed in.
Venue Technology: Selection & Integration
I was involved in a panel discussion that posed a number of key considerations when assessing technology requirements for a venue. My fellow panelists highlighted some pretty impressive advancements including high-tech building management systems and products that utilise the latest in wireless technology.
However, we were all in agreement that before a redevelopment project is undertaken, there are some preliminary issues to address. With any upgrade, it’s crucial to ensure that your fibre infrastructure is robust enough to incorporate new technologies now and into the future. In addition, we highlighted the inherent value in working in partnership with each supplier to increase the technological firepower of each venue and build out that point of differentiation.
What I also felt important to impress upon our audience, however, was the immeasurable value that can be gained from the integration of new technologies.
Why is that? Firstly, there is a real cost-benefit to integrating hardware with venue management software. If a venue can synchronise and automate technology, such as lighting and temperature control, with the software used for planning and scheduling events, this will equate to huge savings with utility providers.
The second factor to consider here is how this also positively impacts the green credentials of the venue (and with the increasing focus on sustainability, surely every venue manager wants to be exhausting every avenue in this arena).
Another valuable point that came out of the discussion was the opportunity provided by spectators’ seemingly insatiable appetite for data. Venues can tap into a wealth of information about the visitors to their venues by providing fun and functional solutions, such as apps, alongside connectivity. Note that this also provides a big tick in the fan engagement box!
I’m sure that all attendees walked away with an extensive list of new ideas and plans to implement across their venues but the prerequisites are clear: plan the upgrades and implementations meticulously, ensure the infrastructure is robust enough to support the new technologies now and into the future; consider integration as the key to sustainability and savings, and finally work with your partners across the project to guarantee success!