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17 Dec 2021

Daniel Gidney takes part in StadiumBusiness State of the Nation session

WATCH: DANIEL GIDNEY AT STADIUM BUSINESS

Following the recent StadiumBusiness Summit hosted at Emirates Old Trafford, Lancashire Cricket CEO Daniel Gidney took part in a state of the nation discussion with Ian Nuttall, Founder of StadiumBusiness and Lungi Macebo, Chief Operating Officer of Birmingham City Football Club, recapping the key trends and topics from the conference that are impacting upon the global venue, stadium and events industries.

You can watch the full discussion in the video above and read selected quotes from Daniel Gidney below:

On the impact of the pandemic:

“It's been a very challenging year for any professional sports team and sports club. We hosted international cricket behind-closed-doors, one of only two venues to do so in 2020, and it was very, very challenging to kind of maintain that level of biosecurity was really difficult. I think where we're at now, though, is that you have to follow the science. If I was talking to the government today, I'd say you've done a brilliant job on the vaccine programme. I don't think anybody can argue with that compared to a number of other countries. The rollout of the vaccine and the boosters. They've absolutely bet the house on the rollout programme.

“I think one of the challenges, if I look back at it, is business need certainty. Businesses need to plan; they need to be able to focus on what's next. So, I think it's harder when you're talking to the government about getting them to understand that certainty piece and actually giving you the confidence that you can plan. I think one of the big issues of 2020 was ‘yes, we're going to be okay’ then we weren't okay then for six months lockdown, then limited restrictions. Then, restrictions went from 5,000 to full house in three days. And trying to mobilise from 5,000 capacity to 23,000 capacity in three days puts a massive pressure on the events team and the venue team. The government says: ‘Well, look, it's not really my problem. I can't really help that. But I think if we could get the government to actually understand that and take into account the fact that the businesses need to plan make our lives a lot easier.”

On the increasing need for sustainable practices and service:

“Things have changed I think as our younger audiences are getting a bit older, they're becoming a lot more vocal. And they're quite rightly calling our previous generations in terms of actions as a whole in society. Customers now, not just in our conference and events space, but also our younger customers in our sports base say: ‘well what are you doing about that?’ And it's a very good question, and I think coming back to Lungi’s point is, stadiums have a lot of profile. And actually, we've got a great role to play in society in terms of raising the awareness of the issues here. But also, we need to lead. We've just got consent for a new 100-bed extension on the hotel and the restaurant and member facilities and museum facilities. But actually, it would have been very difficult to get that consent if we hadn't removed the gas supply from the building. That's really quite challenging to do, both from a design and from an actual operating perspective. But it's something that we're committed to do. We've also got enough space on the roof to look at potential solar, although, again, as Lungi said, the government needs to support us in terms of subsidies to make this work because the 30-year ROI, is a very, very long time in any business’s cycle.

“So, I think there are things that we all can do, you know, eco doesn't mean cheap. I think people sometimes think that it will save you money. I think ultimately consumption reduction is the only thing that will save you money on utilities. But we do have a responsibility to future generations to get this right and to hit carbon neutral targets. That’s something that in most stadiums, in most boardrooms in the UK, ESG - environment, society and governance - is a very big issue. It certainly is for us at Lancashire Cricket, ESG is a very, very important issue and is something that is regularly on our board and executive agenda.” 

On the importance of utilising data:

“We have more varied revenue streams than any other cricket club in the country, which is great, but, on the other hand, it makes it very difficult to track loyalty, in terms of having people who spend money across multiple areas. We're working with PTI Digital at the moment, a sponsor of the StadiumBusiness Summit, looking at how we actually start to consolidate those data inputs to make it easier to get that single customer view. A lot of people talk about that but it's really a holy grail in the venue space. Nobody really does it that well across a number of channels and it's something that is very much a priority for us: to get to know our customer better. 

“Data is everything now. In the old days of naming rights, it was about a name on the stand. It was about hospitality. It was about a few of the benefits, like player appearances. Now it's all about data. You know, with Emirates, it's about what's the propensity of your fans and customers to want to spend money on flights out of Manchester. It's very different questions 10-15 years on from when I first got involved with naming rights, to what the expectations of those organisations are now.” 

On the evolution of the stadium and events industry:

“Stadiums are the cathedrals of sport. It's an overused term, but people come to worship their teams: that's what they do. I think over time, customers and society have become so used to immediate service, immediate products and immediate innovation. And I think the stadium industry has been a bit slow to kind of grasp that. I think technology and a focus on the customer is definitely the primary focus of any stadium going forwards into the next century. I think it's so exciting. I'm very fortunate to work in sport and in a stadium environment and I think it gives you a variety every day, where your customers and your fans and your members constantly challenge you in a new way to say: ‘yeah, that's all great, but what about this? What about that?’ It keeps us fresh and dynamic. So, I think working in stadiums is brilliant."