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REVENUE-GENERATOR: Interview with Gareth Roberts, Commercial Director, Warwickshire County Cricket Club/Edgbaston Stadium

In this latest Industry Interview, Katie McIntyre chats in-depth with Gareth Roberts, Commercial Director at Warwickshire County Cricket Club (WCCC) about Edgbaston the business, the power of commercial partnerships, keeping ahead of the curve when it comes to the fan experience, and the stadium’s 20-year Master Plan.

 

Firstly, can you start off by telling us a little about you, your background, general duties at Edgbaston, etc.?

My current role is Commercial Director at Warwickshire County Cricket Club, where my main responsibilities are the cricket revenue projects, mainly ticketing, membership and commercial partners. We’re now looking at digital opportunities and how we monetise those areas. I am also responsible for three central teams of marketing, communications and the recently – about 12 months ago – set up content team, which is all about driving and ensuring we have powerful, impactful content that people want to read. Obviously from a progression point of view, people want constant access to interesting updates messages but want to see the information delivered in a different way, whether digital format, video, etc. The three central teams cover the requirements for other core areas of the business, that is, conference and events hospitality, the Cricket Board and the catering operations.

 

My background is very much sales, marketing and brand. I spent 22-years at Carlsberg, the brewer. I started in sales, did that for 6 years before moving into Customer Marketing, learning specifically how you market to customers. Then into brand, and learned how you maximise a brand, its core assets and attributes into the various target audiences, that taught me a lot of how you talk to people; right message, right target audience, right timing, right product. Then the last 12 years at Carlsberg, I looked after the main sponsorship partnerships, such as The FA, The RFU, The RFL and their own unique properties such as the England Team, the FA Cup and Wembley Stadium, all the way down to grass roots football; the England Rugby Team and the Tetley’s Bitter Cup; the Tetley’s Super League and the Tetley’s Super League Grand Final Around 2007  I created the platform for the re-launch of Tuborg in the UK, one of Carlsberg’s brands, by negotiating new partnerships with Live Nation, for their music properties of the O2 Academy, Wireless, Download Festivals, plus moving the Tuborg brand in to Glastonbury, Leeds and Reading festivals, and Latitude. In essence, creating a new foundation for Tuborg as the company’s music brand via sponsorship.  

 

So, to summarise my experience, it’s a lot of varied roles within sales, marketing and brand, with community and media running alongside. I’m now focused very much on the commercial side, and how we drive and secure the core revenues, across all elements of the Edgbaston Stadium business.

 

 

Can you give us a brief overview as to Edgbaston, the business?

Edgbaston is owned by and is the ‘home ground’ to Warwickshire County Cricket Club (WCCC); we’re a not-for-profit organisation. We have a membership, stakeholder process, so there are no shareholders and no dividends or anything like that to pay out. Everything we create in the way of surplus, we are able to reinvest in the facilities at the stadium, the playing side, staff, new technologies and investing in things from a customer/fan point of view; all aiming to develop the business. It’s a good robust business but we know that more we can create in the way of revenue, hopefully the more we can put back into the business and continue to drive it forward

 

Back in 2011, we completed a GBP£32m upgrade and redevelopment of the stadium that allowed us to build purpose-built media facilities, which we believe now are in the best in cricket. The playing facilities were also upgraded, for which we receive a lot of very, very positive feedback from visiting teams, including international teams such as Australia and governing bodies such as the ICC But what we’ve developed out of that £32m redevelopment is a strong and successful conference and events business, which is now worth around £2.5m per year revenue to the business. We have a joint venture with Compass; the biggest catering company in Europe, known as  Edgbaston Experience Ltd, which works on the conference and events side of the business, managing and running all of our bars, catering, F&B business, etc. WCCC owns 55% of that relationship, with Compass having 45%.

 

In terms of stakeholders, we have a management board, with member representation, and we have a number of very experienced non-executive directors who now it on the board. We have a very strong stakeholder relationship in Birmingham City Council, who we borrowed a significant amount of money from to complete the stadium redevelopment. They are a key stakeholder, key partner and key strategic partner but they are also aware of the benefits Edgbaston Stadium brings to the city on annual basis. For example, the [ICC] Champions Trophy this year, where Edgbaston hosted 3 warm ups, 4 group games and semi-final had a positive economic impact to the city of around £25m for an Ashes year, it would be higher. Being able to build a stadium that attracts people from not only all over the country, but from all over the world, means people coming into the city, using the hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping, etc., can deliver that £25.5-£30m economic benefit to the city.

 

 

What are the main challenges when it comes to Edgbaston?

In terms of the main challenges, obviously we have to service our debt, so our biggest challenge is making sure that we secure the biggest games in world cricket. That has to be first and foremost, as the significant and vast majority of our revenue comes in as cricket related sales. So by building the new stadium, what we have done is secured our future in many respects, because we believe we now have the best facilities in the world.

 

In terms of our vision moving forward, our aim is “To be the best cricket business in the world”. That’s what we’re aiming for on a day-to-day basis and is what always remains at the forefront of our minds. So when we continue to redevelop, we still have a lot of work to do, but we feel we already have some of the best media, playing, conference and hospitality facilities in the world. However, we cannot be complacent so we are always looking for operational excellence across all areas of the business. Add that to the passion and commitment of our staff then we certainly have a chance of delivering on our objectives. The next three schedule is the best in cricket and we aim to maximise and enhance our reputation during this period. We’ve just had the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, we’ve got the first ever day/night Test Match against West Indies in August, followed by the T20 Finals Day a month later and this is all followed by the India Test, Australia T20 and Finals Day in 2018, then in 2019, we have both the Ashes and the ICC Cricket World Cup secured.

 

Every 3-4 years, we submit to the ECB [England & Wales Cricket Board] the package of matches that we want to secure for the following 3-4 years touring program. I would say that the core part of our role is to ensure that we secure those matches and then operationally deliver those to the highest quality.

 

There’s a lot of sport in Birmingham that we have to compete against, from athletics to 3-4 football teams, from Premiership [EPL] to Championship, there’s also an ever-growing leisure offering in the city, which is getting better and better. So it’s all about being relevant and offering fans the kind of experience at Edgbaston that makes them want to come back. Everything from the match day experience, the interactive activities, things for the kids, and whether it’s family-orientated and the quality and variety of food, it has to be right. It’s also important that we cater for all of our visitors, so if you take the South Asian matches, it’s making sure that we have Halal food available but also give them access to prayer rooms. It’s of that sort of recognition and respect that stands you apart from other leisure events.

 

Edgbaston will host the first ever day/night Test Match against West Indies in August

 

That follows on nicely to my next question regarding the Fan Experience and connectivity at Edgbaston. What kinds of initiatives and technologies are you currently offering and what are you hoping/proposing to offer at Edgbaston moving forward?       

What we’re trying to do is offer something that starts before a fan even reaches the ground. We want to build awareness and interest in cricket at Edgbaston and create a preference for our brand over others. For instance, we’re only an hour from Trent Bridge, so we need to make sure fans choose us rather than anywhere else, so we try to make that first part of it very attractive and impactful through our digital marketing process. We’ve worked hard over the last 5 years to develop a very strong database, which now has 270,000 marketable customers. We are able to segment in to key groups, so we can target effectively and efficiently; so we know who buys Test Matches, who buys One Day International (ODI) matches, and who buys T20 matches, so we can actually get the particular message about the product that they like to them, with the right message, with the right information. This results in a better open rate and ultimately more interest and more sales, etc. The start point is always about getting the right message and the right product, to the right person, and that’s getting more and more digitally-led these days, whether that’s through electronic direct mail, Twitter, Facebook, and obviously our website, it’s imperative that the impact is high and message is powerful.

 

In terms of the actual buying process, we’re trying to make everything easier. At this moment in time we are investigating ticketless options, that they can down load on their phones. We’re not there yet but it’s certainly what we’re aiming for in future. Taking this a step further, can that ticket then also give them travel or accommodation at the same time.  so that if a fan is coming up from London, they will be able to simply buy one ticket; i.e. travel from London into New Street [Birmingham’s main train station], where they get a shuttle bus from the station to the ground and then gain access in to the stadium, all on the one ticket. Our shuttle bus service from the City is run by one of our key commercial partners, National Express and we know in the Ashes season, over 50,000 people use the shuttle bus service. And then when they get to the ground what we’re also looking at in the future, is can they use that one ticket to purchase their drinks, food, merchandise, everything on that one ticket. That’s where technology is going.

 

Also, we want to ensure that the customer experience coming into the ground continues at a high standard, easy access into the stadium, followed by good quality of service and queue speeds once inside the ground. This call all be supported by effective information provided by LED screens at all public kiosks and concessions and through all of the stadium IPTV set up. A consistency of look and feel but also of keeping the customer experience at the forefront of the delivery. Then in-bowl, it’s all about the entertainment, it’s all about the content generation that supports the on-field activity, from big screen to what fans can pick up on their mobile and even through the stadium’s PA system. We now have a full stadium Wi-Fi infrastructure in place, which means the specific landing pages can tell fans not only about the game, the opponents and the players, but also about retail offers, what’s available, map of the grounds, all app-type data. It’s all about driving everything into the fan’s mobile, which is where we believe technology is going. In the future, maybe as early as next year, fans should even be able to order their F&B in-seat.

 

During this process it’s important that that we continue to secure data on our customer. Compass are very proactive as well, so what we’re trying to do is deliver a fully connected stadium – whether it’s all fully connected via the sub project – it all fits together, so we can collect all of that data and continue to update customers on what’s going on around the ground, and then allow us to continue talking to them once they’ve left the ground, and we know that they like lager, they bought burgers and an England shirt; having that data means we can then furnish them with further information on our core products, as well as with targeted information based on their specific likes.

 

Our objective, when we talk about Edgbaston, is to continue to be creative and innovative. We see ourselves as the leaders in innovation, at the forefront and ahead of the game in many respects. For example,  taking on the first ever day/night test in the UK through to changing our name to the Birmingham Bears, we are putting things in place that are different and creative, rather than standing still and waiting for things to happen.

 

As part of the next stage of redevelopment at the ground, we need to see where we can enhance the customer experience to a level that competes with the best of the world. Back in January, I was lucky enough to travel out to Boston, with my Head of Content, to see how the Americans go about delivering the in-bowl and full stadium fan experience. We went to the Patriots ground [Gillette Stadium], where we went into the control room to see how the LED screen and perimeter boards work together; for example, simply, if there is a pivotal moment  and as everything is connected, the same message can be shown across all mediums, all at the same time. A fantastic example of this was at the Boston Celtics basketball team at TD Gardens, in-bowl and it’s just an amazing visual theatre and entertainment experience, all connected and all driven by the match control centre. It’s a proper entertainment show. Even when you go onto the concourses, perhaps to get a beer, you don’t miss anything, as all the concourse TV’s and IPTV set up, kiosk screens, etc., are all connected, so if someone gets a basket, this is shown across the entire concourse.

 

Our aim is for Edgbaston to be all connected in this way too. It’s a big, 3-4 year project, but we’re working on it now and developing a phased install to deliver a Boston Celtics/TD Gardens-style execution, with LED and perimeter screens, concourse-, kiosk- and hospitality box TVs, so that no matter where a fan is in the ground, they all get that same in-bowl experience.

 

With the Ashes and Cricket World Cup in 2019, it would be great to get this in place by then. However, it’s a bit of a challenge from both a financial and logistical point of view, but certainly as cricket moves forward – for instance, as you’ll be aware, with the English Premier League coming into cricket in 2020 – there are some really good opportunities to have all these things in place really drive that customer experience for the ‘world exposure’ of the new English Premier League in 2020 and onwards. As I’ve said before, it’s a challenge financially, however, if we secure a really strong programme from 2020 to 2023, including the Ashes, and secure Edgbaston as one of the eight venues for the Premier League, that would secure significant revenue that we can re-invest.

 

We are also now aware of the new broadcast deal that’s been secured over the last few weeks with Sky and the BBC from a terrestrial television perspective, so we know the value that can be generated from such media exposure. So basically, by the end of this year, we should have a good idea as to where we are from a commercial and secured investment point of view, which means we should be in a good position to see how this can be invested in stadium and fan experience over the next 3-4 years.

 

Finals Day of the NatWest T20 Blast in 2015

 

WCCC recently secured a new commercial partnership with Birmingham International Airport for the next 2 years following on from Edgbaston’s successful hosting of the ICC Champions Trophy, which will see perimeter branding in the stadium bowl for England’s inaugural Day/Night Investec Test Match against the West Indies in August and also at the Test match against India in 2018. Can you describe how you are enhancing commercial opportunities and partner programmes?

As you say, Birmingham Airport is our latest partner. It’s a fantastic relationship to have; being a high level brand partner. From a pure association side of things, having high level brand partners such as Birmingham Airport, and our recently extended partnership with Birmingham City University – the two biggest brands in Birmingham – it shows we have the ability and quality of securing those types of partnerships moving forward. Working with high profile global brands such as Birmingham Airport creates a lot more interest in Edgbaston as a venue, a brand, a product on a global platform. We’re really driving those blue-chip, worldwide brand partnerships; we actually have quite a few potentials bubbling away at the moment, who we’re looking forward to working with in the near future, particularly in regards to fulfilling our technology ambitions. We feel that if we get the right companies and brands on board, then they can help us drive and deliver on our technology vision.

 

One such company that we’re working with is the globally-renowned large LED screen manufacturer, Daktronics, who were our hosts out in Boston. They’re the people we’ve been working with on the control systems, which we now have in place in the Control Room. Show control, Tri-cast and 3 play is what you need to create your own ‘production’ room and to put on a show. They are the best in the business and deliver all the NFL and main sport stadia in America. It’s these types of companies that we want to work with; the best in the business in each of the categories and classes.

 

We’ve been able to put together a strong commercial partner programme over the last 4 years, securing valuable revenue – now at over £1m per annum (compared to £220k in 2012). The investment is important but it’s also imperative that each partner can also enhance the business and add value in all areas of the organisation. Birmingham Airport and Birmingham City University are very good examples of proactive partners who work with you create added value for all parties concerned and buy in to our vision.

 

 

WCCC/Edgbaston is viewed as an innovator in the sector. Is this something you set out to be known for?

As previously mentioned, when we talk about Edgbaston, we talk about being a business that is innovative and creative.

 

We were in fact the first stadium to hold a day/night one day game back in 1997/98 and we are now the first ever venue to host a Day/Night Test Match in the UK. We want to take on these challenges and will continue to look other innovations in cricket and stadium development.

 

In regards to non-match day activity, we need to ensure we are maximising the world-class space and facilities, every day of the year. We now run the biggest fireworks display in Birmingham, we hold boxing, darts and other sporting events and we are now investigating the option of an outdoor concert in the future.

 

There is also a real ambition to be expose our high quality food offering and work towards a potential Michelin star in the future. This would be a ‘first’, as far as we know, for any sports stadium, so another good example of innovation and ambition away from cricket.

 

 

What can we expect in terms of the future of cricket and the further development of Edgbaston?

Our car park is going to be developed, with 400 new apartments being built. We sold that piece of land as part of the funding for the £32m stadium redevelopment to a developer, for around £9m, and construction on the apartments is due to start next year.

 

At the ground level of those residential apartments, there will be bars, cafes, restaurants, retail, etc. What it will create for Edgbaston, in essence, will be a plaza, a destination, for people to come and visit. There is also a 230-room hotel being built right on Edgbaston’s doorstep, meaning we can pretty much offer on-site accommodation. Looking at the customer experience, this will mean we’ll be able to offer accommodation during Test Matches, and also for our conference and events business. We’ve met with the developers and know and understand what the brands are. They fit well with us, being of good quality. It’s a very simple partnership and we know we’ll be able to deliver a good occupancy level more or less immediately, so good position for a start-up hotel business. Basically, we are creating a centre of Edgbaston – which it currently doesn’t have – with a world-class stadium at its heart.

 

We’ve got a really exciting future ahead but we have to make it happen. Yes, we believe we have the best facilities in cricket and have an exciting events programme coming up, but as you know, we still have to put it in place, operate the stadium perfectly, we need customers to keep coming back and need to keep them aware of what’s happening in regards to that future. Having a strong vision, that the commercial partners, key stakeholders, customers and importantly staff want to get on board with, is key, and that’s how you attract relationships like Birmingham Airport and BCU (Birmingham City University). It’s also why international brands are now looking at partnerships with us and it could be that these commercial partners help us drive the brand globally, especially in cricket territories like India, Pakistan and Australia. Having that international reach, where the Edgbaston brand is so well known and iconic, gives us a fantastic opportunity to build a global audience that creates a relationship with the Club and the Stadium.

 

 

Can you tell us more about technology and the customer experience at Edgbaston?

The technology side at Edgbaston is very much driven with the customer in mind; that’s our priority at the moment. When we talk about the experience – i.e. fans wanting to come to the ground, buying a ticket, getting to the ground, etc. – we want to make that as easy as possible with new technology. So that’s about making it possible for fans to buy everything they need in one easy process but also collect the tickets and information on their preferred devices, i.e. mobile it’s all about making the customer journey a lot easier.

 

The millennials obviously expect everything literally at their fingertips, however, what we’re not doing is discarding, at this stage, is the current generation or even the generation before that. As the average age of our membership is 57, although they’d like to be tech-savvy, many of them aren’t, so when, for example, we do the annual membership process, we still send them a paper form to fill in, because even if they have a mobile phone, they might not necessarily know how to use it, and they want to have a personal, face-to-face relationship. They like coming into the shop, and renewing their membership, so we have to recognise that and gradually introduce technology and digital processes over the coming years.

 

We are trying to get more and more people on to the digital platform, one reason is cost – as there is still quite a high cost when you’ve got 4,500 members, ease is another – getting the message across that filling the form out online is a lot easier and more efficient etc. In the next 5 to 10 years, it will all be done on an electronic format. So, it’s all about keeping ahead of the curve and comes back to having the right technology partners on board, who can help us ensure that we’re always up-to-date.

 

From a technology point of view, when fans are in the bowl, it’s about ensuring that we can deliver this big screen, interactive process across the whole digital platform. If we can create a fully connected stadium with the large screens, IPTV’s, Wi-Fi, LED perimeter boards, etc., then the customer experience will be incredible. Add the opportunity for the fan to interact, via their mobiles, with tweets appearing on the big screen, this really will drive a strong entertainment experience that the spectator can get fully involved with. It’s going back to the Boston experience, where we saw how the Celtics deliver a ‘proper’ show, it’s all about the entertainment and the customer experience.

 

 

What about the future of cricket and the development of Edgbaston?

There’s been a lot of research on the state of cricket over the last 2-3 years and what’s clear is that the future of cricket is about making sure people remain interested in the game and that cricket is one of the Top 10 on young people’s sports lists; that’s all about getting in to schools and cricket clubs at an early age. T20 is that driver, that’s the entry point. If you’ve never seen cricket before, you come to a T20 game. What’s so good about T20, is that it’s an event itself, with cricket at the heart of the entertainment. Consistently, you will see activities like Kids Zones – we can have anywhere from 200-300 people in these zones at any one time; live bands, creating the buzz and the atmosphere; and other fun and interactive areas around the ground. This, added to the in-bowl visual and audio effects, lead to full night of entertainment. All our under 16’s get free entry, which is encouraging parents to think about relatively good value for money family night at a 4 family ticket price of around £36.

 

The benefit of ‘pester power’ linked with good value has certainly seen a huge increase in families and kids at Edgbaston over the last few seasons. Most 7-plus year-olds now days have either their own mobile phones or iPads, or at least access to one, so if we can capture their data, we are able talk to them through the exciting T20, Birmingham Bears brand; an attractive vibrant yellow colour, an American style badge/logo and getting unique content and materials such as autographs from their favourite players, messages from mascots, downloads, etc. It’s all about getting families and children into cricket.

 

There’s actually been a new project nationally launched by the ECB called “All Stars Cricket”, 100% targeted at driving more interest from kids. Already around 40,000 under 8’s have signed up to the new scheme. That’s a great result in making sure that cricket remains strong with this important group and ensuring they get involved and enjoy the sport. T20 is the lead format in this project, using its fast pace, exciting formula to attract and interest new players. This is also where the new English Premier League comes in, due to be launched in 2020. The Big Bash in Australia is a prime example of how to engage with families and build real and sustainable interest in the younger generation. The new Premier League aims to emulate the success on and off the field and is certainly needed as a much needed boost to cricket and its future. Edgbaston needs to be one of the city venues chosen and we feel we are in a good place to secure that position. As a venue, we would be getting the best teams and the best players from around the world. For us, at Edgbaston, it would also mean getting the best players from the South Asian communities of India and Pakistan in particular. Being smack in the middle of these large groups of cricket fanatics, it does offer up a huge opportunity to attract these audiences to Edgbaston Stadium. One of the key reasons to change our name to ‘Birmingham Bears’; was to build the city brand with these local south Asian communities; we still remain the only county to have done this.

 

Our focus on T20 is certainly delivering success as we continue to grow audiences every year with strong increases from the South Asian fans. If we can get this right in 2020 and the new Premier League, and draw the world names from India and Pakistan to Edgbaston – who are like gods in these communities – then I have no doubt that the South Asian community will come to the ground in their 1,000’s.

 

[WCCC play in the county championship and the one day tournaments, then T20 is where the growth area is, which is delivering family-focused entertainment and is really thriving and driving interest in the Birmingham Bears.]

 

 

Arena Seating, one of your commercial partners, will be bolstering capacity by 850 people for each day of the Investec Day/Night Test Match, as well as for other big events. Can you tell us more about this?

We did this first for the Ashes back in 2015 – obviously with an event like the Ashes, you could sell out the stadium twice over – so we wanted to look at ways of how we could get more people into the stadium to see these events. We have an area in the stadium, where we can put in temporary seating for 850 additional people. This means over the course of the 4-day event, we’re getting an extra 3,500 people into the ground to see the biggest games in the world.

 

With the Champions Trophy this year, we worked with Arena and the ICC, in the knowledge that for the India v Pakistan game, for example, with almost 90,000 applicants for tickets, nearly 4 times our capacity, we needed to look at different ways to allow access to more people. We knew this would also be the case for the ICC England v Australia and semi-final matches and then, looking ahead, Day 2 and 3 of the Test Match and T20 Finals Day in early September. Our view is always trying to give more access, so over the 8 days as above, we are able to get an extra 6,500 people to come and watch cricket at its best. It’s something that works both from a commercial point of view, but also from a getting more people access to these major match days at Edgbaston.

 

We will continue to look at ways of increasing capacity through future redevelopment. Taking that from a future point of view, we are currently developing a master plan, which is looking at another 4-5 years ahead. So, whilst we’ve already completed the £32m redevelopment in the new pavilion, the older part of the ground could be something that we look at developing in 5-10 years’ time, which would naturally increase the capacity at the ground. What we clearly need to do is secure the best matches in the world cricket, over a longer period that ultimately bring more revenue to the business and then maximise the matches through our quality food and beverage facilities.

 

 

How important is knowledge-sharing between industry peers in the cricket sector?

I think cricket is very good at understanding that as a sport we need to grow the whole category. We have various groups at the highest level of the game that work very well together. For the Chief Execs’ group, the Chairmen’s group, and for my level, there is the Commercial Directors’ group that focuses on Test Match grounds.

 

The Commercial Directors’ group meetings focuses on the common areas that work across all of the grounds. Obviously we all have different objectives and there is also healthy competition but it working on common projects makes sense and delivers core efficiencies for all. These are projects such as; customer database, digital platforms, Wi-Fi, ticketing etc.

 

Five years ago we set up a data collection project, managed and implemented by Two Circles. Before that neither the venues nor the ECB collected data, so didn’t really know their customer and therefore could not create any targeted or segmented marketing strategies.  This is a very good example of the whole game working together to enhance cricket and knowledge share effectively.

 

From our point of view, taking the Boston trip and going out to an NFL ground, a University and an entertainment venue (whether ice hockey or basketball) to see the best in the world, there is a real opportunity for industry peers to share knowledge and develop our own ambitions to get close to that. We also have good relations locally with the football teams, Birmingham City, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion, as well as with Ricoh Stadium’s Wasps rugby team; we can learn a lot from rugby, being so similar to cricket in terms of their customers and the customer experience, with no segregation, and a more relaxed, informal atmosphere.

 

From my point of view as a company, we need to go out and see different sports and different types of industries. And from the cricket side, we are very good at working together to build the category of cricket, and if we don’t, then we’ll have a problem in the future and it’ll all be down to us individually rather than collectively.  

 

 

What current trends are you tracking at the moment?

Simply how customers are consuming their information and what they want to see and hear within that ‘brief’ update. We talked about how we get someone interested in the first place and that’s about where they consume their content; we need to ensure we are part of their ‘range’ of interests and entertainment. So pop-up adverts on YouTube, Instagram, wherever people are picking up their information, we have to make sure we’re part of that trend. Our focus is on creating interesting and impactful content otherwise, for straight ‘boring’ adverts for example, customers will simply not pick them up. This is such an important and critical area that we have now created our own in house content “agency”, responsible for churning out high quality impactful content at a high standard of production.

 

In saying that, we also need to ensure we maximise the use of our unique assets, i.e. our fantastic stadium facilities, our unique atmosphere and of course our players, who are the heroes to many. To that end, we’re now looking at how we create an Edgbaston production team in the future; it’s still about content, but it’s bigger than that, it’s got to be day-to-day, up to date, 10-15 seconds bursts, this is what we believe people want to see. This does mean putting in the resources and continuous team upskilling but if we are serious in where we want to be in the future then, we need to keep developing as a team and producing relevant and exciting data, video and informative content. And it’s our job to drive that content creation and get it out via the right channels, where people can pick it up.   

 

How do you foresee the sector evolving over the next 4-5 years from a technology perspective?

Mobile is absolutely key! I can see mobile and phones in particular being the device in the future that people will rely on for almost everything. It’s the device that is accessible every minute of the day so it has to be our job to ensure that our content readily available, attractive and functional and easy for them to pick up. It goes back to creating the right, up-to-date, fresh content, which they can’t pick up anywhere. People want that immediate interaction and feel that they’re getting spoken to ‘personally’, in the right way, with the right product information.

 

The very first day/night cricket match in the UK at Edgbaston in 1997

 

 

 

 

The final day of the old pavilion pre-redevelopment at the end of 2009

 

 

Huge thanks to Gareth Roberts and all the team at WCCC/Edgbaston for assisting in the compilation of this insightful interview piece.

 

Above & main image (top): Gareth Roberts, Commercial Director, WCCC, at the India v Bangladesh ICC Champions Trophy match

 

 

Images, courtesy: WCCC

 

 

#SportsVenueBusiness – keeping you in the know!

 

 

 

 

 

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