THE BIG INTERVIEW: Christian Lau, Chief Technology Officer, LAFC
In this latest industry interview, we hear from Christian Lau, Chief Technology Officer for Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) and their Banc of California Stadium.
In this video interview, conducted via Zoom, Christian talks us through his career journey and highlights the fact that his ‘standout moment’ to date was when he joined LAFC, having come from more traditional roles in publishing and business consulting.
As Christian explains, in this – his first professional sports gig – he came on board just as the club was breaking ground on its new Banc of California Stadium; so he was quite literally able to help build a stadium, which he now runs.
Christian goes on to talk about his objectives for the next 1-3 years. He highlights how they were on a path to introduce a lot of new technology this year, some of it aligning with the whole touch-free customer journey post-pandemic. He also explains how he’s now task with identifying the technology that will be required at Banc of California Stadium when fans are able to return and that the club will be looking to introduce new technology outside of the current COVID-19 needs at the venue in the next 2-3 years.
Christian advises that LAFC is working with the Los Angeles Venue Task Force, which represents every professional sports venue, as well as live entertainment venues, in Los Angeles and the county, on a roadmap to reopening; sharing ideas on technology, best practices, etc. He says that they are also working with the Trusted Venues Consortium on more of a national level, which is focused heavily on technology around health-verification and health-monitoring.
Despite the lockdown, Christian explains that he and has team have been very busy, probably busier than before, as they have had to add on the whole new COVID-19 topic to their remit. He confirms that they have gone to contract with five new partners during the lockdown, including technology surrounding crowd intelligence where they are working with a company called Armored Things. He confirms that they are also now working with partners Patriot One who are providing a next-generation security system that will be used at the gates of Banc of California Stadium to get people safely and securely into the building.
Together, Patriot One, LAFC and Banc of California Stadium will form “The Stadium & Event Safety Strategic Alliance,” which will utilise groundbreaking security technology to turn Banc of California Stadium into a global showcase venue to advance the vision of safety and security for public gathering spaces. (Watch this space for a story outlining this new partnership.)
Christian also explains how they are working with a lot of things to do with concessions; as the days of people standing in lines to order their beers is gone! Meaning mobile ordering will be a main priority, so they are reimagining their whole concessions and guest experience for F&B and merchandise purchases, etc.
Finally, Christian talks about how sports and entertainment venues will evolve over the next 2-3 years, especially when it comes to their utilisation of technology, which will be the salve for all. He talks about club spaces and suites, for example, where they are having to make modifications to those operations because of the pandemic but says that “when you think about it, 2-3 years down the road, it will simply be common practice”.
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ALSD International – Europe’s leading event for the Premium Seat & Sports Hospitality sector – taking place at Liverpool FC’s Anfield Stadium this October, 12-13, will examine how to increase revenue through new builds, renovations, service expansions and the latest technology, and how to recoup lost revenue post COVID-19.
The next edition of ALSD International – organised by the Association of Luxury Suite Directors and Sports Venue Business – will feature a high-level conference, an exhibition hall showcasing the latest products, services & solutions, tours of Anfield, Everton’s Goodison Park and M&S Bank Arena, and numerous networking events, ensuring optimised opportunities to knowledge-share, network and do business.
#ALSDInternational – Europe’s leading event for the Premium Seat & Sports Hospitality sector
#ALSD – Leading the Premium Seat sector for the last 30 years
#sportsvenuebusiness – The leading platform for sector news, views & developments