The anatomy of ultimate fan experience


Nils Braude at Coliseum Summit EUROPE 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Developing a great stadium experience can bring fans and teams closer and what the venue operators dream about is to hear the rumble and roar of fans in a packed house. The in-stadium fan experience is unlike any other. What fans desire today are smart stadia that can become the crucibles of identity and community and the heartbeat of a City.

Nils Braude, who is one of the top bananas at the Twickenham Experience Limited, UK, swears by the above as his job entails dealing with the hospitality part and ensuring guests have an exhilarating experience while at the venue.

Nils Braude is the Managing Director of Twickenham Experience, the conferencing and hospitality business set within the Twickenham Stadium, the Home of England Rugby and one of the most iconic and historic stadia on the planet.

Nils Braude, MD, Twickenham Experience, UK, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

In a one-to-one interaction with Neil Levett, Emcee, Coliseum, UK, Nils Braude, MD, Twickenham Experience, UK, tells that whatever changes are implemented at the Twickenham Stadium fans are at the forefront of that change and they strive to deliver better fan experiences so that the supporters get bang for the buck. He also tells Levett that the Twickenham Stadium is not all about rugby and offers visitors much more…

Twickenham Stadium

The 82,000-capacity Twickenham Stadium in Twickenham, South-West London, England (UK), is a rugby union stadium owned by the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the English rugby union governing body, which has its headquarters there. The England national rugby union team plays their home matches at the stadium.

Rugby Football Union

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is the national governing body for rugby union in England. It was founded in 1871 and was the sport’s international governing body prior to the formation of what is now known as World Rugby (WR) in 1886. It promotes and runs the sport, organizes international matches for the England national team and educates and trains the players and the officials.

Twickenham Experience Limited

The Twickenham Experience Limited provides facilities for corporate events at the Twickenham Stadium. The company provides meeting rooms, conference centers as well as event catering.

Informed Nils Braude to Neil Levett, “The Twickenham Experience Limited is the joint venture between the Compass Group who is the service provider and the caterer and there are a few from the governing body from our company. We have developed the East Stand of the stadium and it has been a very successful business.”

He further informed that his role is to commercialize the venue “both on a non-matchday and from the hospitality and catering perspective”.

Levett pointed out that it is an 82,000-seat stadium with an anchor tenant that only plays for five times a year. And the stadium has 360 day left when the anchor tenant is not there.

Braude stated that they don’t benefit from their home team (England rugby) – “However, we try and promote ourselves as not just a rugby stadium but we are a 365 days-a-year venue. We do about 24-25 events in a year and we do a huge amount of non-matchdays business and we are trying to commercialize the space that is not traditionally used within the venue and are also reaping the rewards of the same. We run about 1,000 events in a year and we run multiple events at multiple times.”

Levett further pointed out that the Twickenham Stadium also boasts a hotel and Braude informed that it is part of the property which has been handed over to the Marriott International to run – the London Marriott Hotel Twickenham which is a distinctive destination for unforgettable experiences for corporates and sports fans.

Observed Braude, “Having a hotel next to a sports facility really attracts and benefits.”

Levett informed that an innovative golf event was held at the Twickenham Stadium this Summer and to this Braude further informed that they partnered with Stadium Golf “to utilize areas in the stadium that are not traditionally used by the corporates. We used the tiers and the stands, the nine holes around the seating bowl and the four-day tee off event (June 8th-11th) ran from 6 am to 10 pm at night. And we had three-course lunch and wine on offer.”

The Stadium Golf Tour is a groundbreaking initiative that will transform iconic sporting stadiums across the United Kingdom into unique golfing experiences. The Stadium Golf Tour opens the doors to sporting stadiums, allowing golf enthusiasts and newcomers alike to step onto the hallowed grounds and play nine holes of golf like never before.

Braude informed that they are also planning to attract church events and movie nights are also on the cards.

Not one to sit back and twiddle their thumbs, Braude and his team introduced esports when COVID clobbered the world back in 2020 – “We had an inhouse esports team that used one of our spaces.” Levett said that it was a sterile environment all over the venue and Braude joined him in stating that, “With no one around social distancing was particularly easy to do and during the pandemic we also sharpened the tech teeth of our stadium. The Internet prowess we have produced in our stadium today is second to none.”

He revealed to Levett about the stadium’s hospitality plans – “We have increased our hospitality capacity from about 9,000 to 14,000 including the boxes, all sponsor areas and hospitality areas and we also realized that the market really cannot take a lot of hospitality colors and we really need to invest now in the experience around the sport itself and as the ticket prices are increasing fans are looking for a wider experience and to attract a diversified group of audience you need to create an experience around the whole day.”

Braude further informed Levett that their future plans include building new parts of the stadium and upgrading the existing parts and future-proofing the venue.

Nils Braude concluded by stating that the community plays a key role in Twickenham Stadium’s greater scheme of things and “we want the local residents to come and use the facility as a 24/7 operation. The community is definitely the fulcrum of our future development plans. We are also digitizing the customer journey and working to deliver more personalized experiences.”

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