‘Customer journey paramount for venues’


Victoria Matthews at Coliseum Europe 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Victoria Matthews’s knowledge on the venue industry is immense and spans several topics related to the arenas. She is a repository of knowledge related to the stadium industry and a soft-spoken impromptu speaker with a total grasp on the subject.

Matthews is the Executive Officer of the European Arenas Association (EAA) and comes across as a very level-headed person as she sends out a sharp statement that the venue operators should offer a level playing field to its entire staff.

At the European Arenas Association (EAA), she is responsible for strategy implementation and day-to-day management. Undoubtedly, she knows the art of managing the workforce and has been working with the EAA since 2012.

Neil Levett is also an authority on venue matters and his association with the European Arenas Association dates back to the 1990s.

In a face-to-face with Neil Levett, Emcee, Coliseum, UK, Victoria Matthews, Executive Officer, European Arenas Association, Netherlands, says in no uncertain terms that the venue operators should never lose sight of the fact that only an enriching customer journey will keep the revenue mills running in a robust manner. She further stressed that venue operators should be able to provide a feeling of oneness to its staff – be it the foot soldiers or the top honchos. ‘Coliseum’ brings the exclusive deets.

European Arenas Association

Rotterdam (Netherlands)-based the European Arenas Association (EAA) is a group of arenas with a range of hosting experiences, including concerts, comedy, sporting events, congresses, conferences, and trade fairs. The EAA was founded in 1991 and today represents 37 leading European arenas across 20 different countries dedicated to hosting the most innovative and popular entertainment in Europe.

Victoria Matthews starts off her riveting conversation with Neil Levett by informing that the EAA was formed way back in 1991 – “What started off with a group of friends and colleagues deciding to open independent venues and meet couple of times in a year to ensure that they are on the same page, make best practice and share content ideas is today an organization representing 37 leading European arenas across 20 different countries.”

Neil Levett agreed that things in EAA have “undergone a sea change” since it was formed in 1991 and Matthews could not agree more as she also put in that the entertainment industry too has undergone total transformation since 1991 – “I think in 1991, outside of the United States, there were 15 international touring companies talking about music specifically. It’s now somewhere like 45.”

Bounce Back

She recounted that “COVID was devastating and brought the venue and the live entertainment industry on its knees but a study conducted by the EAA in 2022 revealed that gradually the venues are again running full house.”

After the harrowing times the pandemic gave to the venue industry (all other sectors too were reeling under the COVID effect) Matthews informed that the EAA has decided to “devise a strategy for the future to make arenas more resilient and no matter how hard the situation is, the venue industry will have to bounce back”.

She informed that the “hardest hit from the pandemic was the entertainment sector”.

Both Levett and Matthews agreed that arenas and stadia play a key role in the “societal well-being”.

To buttress her above point, she added that arenas became the hub of the society when the pandemic was at its peak the world over and venues took on the role of humanitarians as they were deployed as “food banks, vaccination center and quite a few arenas were converted into hospitals. The venues acted as balm during COVID-19 and kind of provided the healing touch to people.”

The duo agreed that in a post-COVID world, though the crowds are coming back to the arenas, but the ride is still bumpy for the venue industry in the form of energy crisis, inflation and, of course, talent shortage as she pointed out, “There was a huge flight of talent during COVID and venues are still struggling to fill in that void.”

Learning Curve

Matthews informed that the venue operators can approach any of the EAA membership network if they want to provide a “learning opportunity to their staff and the whole point of the association is to learn from each other and to set standards for best practice”.

Levett termed the above as a “great initiative” and shared that the problems of touring costs, ticketing, the procurement cycle, and then the pressures of costs being driven down as well are the issues taken up by the EAA.

Levett and Matthews agreed that COVID or no COVID, the top-of-the-ladder artistes like Madonna’s concert tickets sell like hot cakes. It is only the middle band artistes for whom the going is still tough.

Matthews stated that with sustainability being a hot-button topic “a lot of artistes are putting forward conditions that they will only play in ‘Green’ venues. The ‘Green’ venue concept is great with the new builds but some of our arenas are more than 20 years old and serious work needs to be done taking into consideration the sustainability quotient which also is again about resource, time, effort, and money.”


Victoria Matthews summed up by asserting, “The biggest challenge before venues is neither sustainability nor equipping the arena with tech bells and whistles. It is the customer journey. The venue is the brand and providing the fans an exalted experience is their biggest responsibility. I don’t think one can create a customer experience unless one has an employee experience. The employees should be made to feel that they are a crucial part of the delivery chain and it should be drilled into the staffs’ minds that the ‘Customer is the King’ and it is always the customer first in every business.”

A customer journey is a tool that helps marketers understand the series of connected experiences that customers desire and needs.

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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