ASM Global prescription for healthy venues



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Iain Campbell at Coliseum MENA 2022 Image: Iain Campbell & ASM Global

Iain Campbell who is presently the Executive Vice-President, Middle East, ASM Global, UAE, is a man of many parts. The top gun is a focused and committed professional with extensive expertise in operations and facilities management gained within the sporting, leisure and hospitality industries. He is commercially astute with the ability to identify business opportunities and implement effective promotional/marketing activities to raise corporate profile and consolidate year on year expansion. He is also an adept people manager, who excels in managing human and physical resources.

Campbell is armed with 35 years of experience in Venue Management, Sports and Leisure and Hospitality. He previously served a stint as the Group Director of Venue, ASM Global (APAC) and enjoys 15 years of work experience in Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Dubai).
 

ASM Global

ASM Global is the world’s leading venue management and services company, connecting people through the power of live experience.

The Los Angeles, California (US)-based company realize the potential of the world’s greatest places, spaces and events to create amazing experiences for its guests and exciting opportunities for its team members, while delivering the highest value for clients, partners and owners. The top-notch company’s world-class suite of solutions, systems and services delivers amazing guest experiences and creates value for clients, partners and the communities they serve.

In an exclusive with ‘Coliseum’, Iain Campbell offers some pearls of wisdom which will hold in good stead venue operators and all other stakeholders involved in running a venue and also drives home the point that only building majestic venues will not help to get return on investment (ROI), but the team which is involved in running a venue will have to work in cohesion to achieve the desired results. And to achieve the common goal the team will have to “work smart”.
 

Who ASM Global is?

The name ASM Global ring a bell as Iain Campbell stated, “I think most people know who we are but we decided to rebrand right in the beginning of COVID and what a great idea that was.”
 

SMG and AEG Facilities are now ASM Global

AEG’s venue management arm, AEG Facilities, and Onex-owned SMG announced on October 1st, 2019 that they have completed their merger to create a single global facility management and venue services company, ASM Global.
 

SMG

SMG was an American worldwide venue management group headquartered in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania (US), which specialized in managing publicly-owned facilities. It began operation in 1977 and was one of the largest property management corporations in the world.
 

AEG

The Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), also known as AEG Worldwide, is an American global sporting and music entertainment presenter and a subsidiary of The Anschutz Corporation. It is the world’s largest owner of sports teams and sports events. Under the AEG Presents brand, it is the world’s second-largest presenter of live music and entertainment events, after Live Nation. AEG Presents was founded in 2002 as AEG Live.

As Campbell further informed, “With the forming of AEG, we are the world leading venue operator and SMG the second biggest to be formed. We boast over 350 venues now around the world on five continents and 200 million guests’ pre-COVID.”

Painting a positive picture, he asserted that it would be a smooth sail for ASM Global in a post-COVID planet.
 

Maximizing ROI

 

Design

  • Create a design that works for everyone;
  • Involve the operator as early as possible;
  • Consider all stakeholders;
  • Utilize all space to maximize revenue; and
  • Capitalize on façade – naming rights/ad revenues.

 
Campbell questioned, “We build stadiums and arenas but do we talk to the right people? Are our football clubs the right entities to tell us what to build? Maybe they can give ideas about the pitch and a little bit about spectators and promoters.”
 

ASM Global take:

  • Before setting out to build a venue, everybody’s opinions should be taken into consideration; and
  • Before building any stadium or arena, ASM Global works “very closely with all the stakeholders. We take everybody’s views”.

 

Opinions count

He narrated that recently while working with a Saudi client “We interviewed over 50 stakeholders for one venue. Right from the cleaning companies to the promoters, we asked ‘what do they want’? We asked event organizers what they actually need in a stadium. What are they building it for?”

Campbell said that the organizers were “overwhelmed” that their viewpoints mattered and they felt very good about it.
After taking everybody’s views, “We incorporate that in a document that we have which is a design document which we give to the architects, etc. Once the architects work is over, the only people left are the operators and the owners.”
 

Key takeaways:

  • An arena/stadium should be utilized 365 days a year;
  • Versatility key;
  • Utilizing all possible space of an arena – “The perfect examples are the 62,850-capacity Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England (UK) or the 20,000-capacity The O2 Arena in London. These two stadia utilize every single space for commercial purposes. The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium also boasts a brewery and they also use the space underneath the seats.”
  • Getting people in early – Building the venue as a mixed-use facility so that fans would love to march into the stadium several hours before the game starts and would love to stay back even after the match is over. The venue will have to be designed and built in such a manner that it serves as a perfect getaway for spectators – “The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium also boasts a night club and this is something that we will look at.”

 

Brainstorming

COVID-19 came as a bolt from the blue for the whole world when it struck in March 2020 as Campbell put in, “COVID was awful for all of us, especially ASM Global with 61,000 employees. Everybody was sitting back at home doing nothing and venues were either serving as hospitals or vaccination centers. However, we made a very big decision. We splayed all the groups – and I am talking from cleaners up to senior executives – into innovation groups on or across all five continents. And the pandemic gave us time to ask our employees to ideate and come out with crazy ideas. And people did come out with some great stuff.”

  • It’s really hard to launch an event because the show starts slow and several other problems associated with an event were brought to the fore during the above exercise.

 

Ideation effects:

  • ASM Global now invest in events – “We have a content division. We will help create the event, we will give ideas to the event organizer, and we will help them get off the ground. Do we need to reduce the rent? Do we need to supply staff?” ; and
  • Regional tours – “We need to work and collaborate together and create regional tours between Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi.”

 

In tandem

During the whole ideation exercise, the employees pointed out that ASM Global does not do enough community events – “We have all of the community that hold events but they are never held in ASM Global-run arenas and stadiums.”

  • Holding community events will help because a venue just cannot run on eight or 12 major events a year;
  • Venues will have to hold events 365 days in a year and to make that happen the right team is required and everybody in the team should work in unison;
  • More collaboration between venues, operators and promoters – “We might be competitors, but we have one goal – to fill our stadiums and arenas so that we can help each other out. We can’t have an event for five weeks either at Coca-Cola Arena or one of our stadiums or arenas around the world. Pass it on to your competitors. Let’s make sure it happens somewhere and vice versa they should do that.”
  • Talking to each other – “How can we together make events more cost-effective like sharing equipment;
  • Consider the future sustainability of live events – “This is a key point. Have certain parts of the world overpay for content will not work to anybody’s benefit and it is not sustainable. So, we have got to work together to make it sustainable. Venues will have to be packed with people. If these facilities are not raking in the moolah, then why build them?”;
  • Offensive and defensive capex – “This is another pertinent point. We have got to make ourselves cost-effective. We need to buy better PA systems, AV systems, we will have to make the event more affordable. We allow our venues offensive capex and defensive capex. And the venues should be well maintained”;

 

Operational efficiencies

Efficiency is pivotal to a successful venue business as Campbell stated that if events are running at a loss, organizing such events hold no meaning. One should hold back to back events and there should be planning precision.
 

Standardized events set-ups

He continued, “You might have two different promoters for two different days which means completely two setups. But, one can save money if one keeps the same production. ASM Global does it all the time. And venues should totally switch over to cashless payments and mobile ticketing.”

All visitors to the stadium might not be comfortable with the cashless quotient, but these are teething troubles and venue operators should focus on the whole cashless angle.
 

Corporate events

He stated that ASM Global makes “astounding” amount of money out of corporate events. So, venue operators should go in for holding corporate events because it will help them to keep the cash registers jingling.
 

Dynamic adoption of all event-types

The way forward is to keep the lights of a venue on 365 days a year and this can be done through dynamic adoption of all event-types.

Campbell concluded by stating, “We are always seeking new ways to realize the potential of every venue that we are entrusted to serve, delivering amazing experiences and connecting the world through inspiration, innovation and imagination. These are venues built by amazing architects. One should always be involved right from the beginning when a venue is being constructed. And taking possession of the keys of a ready-made venue is a total ‘No’.”

Iain Campbell is a very level-headed person who believes in team work. He well knows the fact that to improve the health and efficiency of a venue, there should be collaboration between venues and not cut-throat competitions.

Preparation is key. Analyzing what is working, what is not and what can be improved upon is the key to future success so that revenue can be generated with ease and memorable fan experiences can be created.

ASM Global cannot provide any magic bullet to help run a successful venue business but if operators follow their prescription, they can definitely help deliver an outstanding experience and keep fans enchanted.

Continue to follow Coliseum for latest updates on venues business news. Coliseum is dedicated towards building the best global community of sports and entertainment venue executives and professionals creating better and more profitable venues.

Become a member of the only Global Sports Venue Alliance and connect with stadiums, arenas and experts from around the world. Apply for membership at coliseum-online.com/alliance and make use of the 365Coliseum Business.




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