Recently I was fortunate to have a tour of two premium US stadiums Fiserv Forum and Lambeau Field. The Stadiums were cutting edge with strong attendance and utilisation run by well-funded organisations. It’s no wonder we constantly look to Big Brother in the US for Stadium design and trends.
But there’s a problem. We are not in the US, our population is small, we have variable attendances, our labour costs are much higher and one could argue our culinary expectations may be more sophisticated.
As such, I have identified eight hospitality trends relevant to Australia and New Zealand.
1: Labour Costs Rise
Reducing the labour requirements in retail outlets will be a focus with more cashless transactions, and the introduction of unmanned point-of-sale terminals. Self-service outlets will reign supreme.
2. Coffee Growth Continues
Antipodeans’ thirst for quality coffee continues to grow year after year. Barista-made coffee is the one item patrons are happy to queue for so invest in quality-made coffee.
3: Craft Beer
Craft beer continues to represent more value than major brands, especially when the consumer perceives the beer prices to be less than reasonable.
4: Supplier Rights
Traditional cornerstone sponsorship deals will continue to be challenged as consumers become less loyal to brands. Stadiums will explore new procurement models in all categories.
5: Menu Engineering
Stadiums will become more analytical in their approach to price setting in a drive to achieve improved sales volumes and better value perception. Reducing the price in some major categories to improve unit sales will be seriously considered.
6: Contemporary Hospitality Experiences
Patrons will continue to seek quality hospitality experience in line with high street offerings. Strong design, authentic food and beverage, and consistent service levels will be critical in providing places people want to be!
7: Fight for the Share of Purse
Growing ticket prices and high-street hospitality offerings all compete for a personal budget that is not growing. Stadium operators will need to offer products and experiences that exceed the expectation of user markets.
8: Align Technology with Stadium Culture
Stadiums are a habitual environment where patron habits are hard to break. Stadiums will look to the pre-ordering solution and pick-up stations. However, there is no evidence to support in-seat ordering and delivery technology/service as yet for GA or large areas of the Stadiums. Culturally our stadium patrons don’t seem to need this service as seen in some trials throughout Australian Stadiums; even the US Stadiums have reduced their focus on technology growth as Stadium traditions and culture seem to be resisting this innovation.
Stadiums will not be immune to the current challenges facing the hospitality industry; however, smart operators will embrace innovation and creative solutions to enhance the game day experience.