VIP HOSPITALITY ROUNDTABLE
NG: It’s important to keep abreast of food and
drink trends, but you have to be careful not to overindex
some trends. While there may be a lot of noise
around a diet or lifestyle choice, you should check
this change is reflected in your demographic or you
could alienate people. We tracked the rise of cocktails
around 10 years ago. We worked with the most creative
company in this space and developed Instagrammable
espresso Martini towers, flavoured paints splashed
on the inside of the glass, theming to match the
environment, and so on.
BD: It’s the age of personalization so the more
F&B options, the better. Still, most attendees still
go with traditional venue favorites. There’s always
a place for hot dogs and beer.
RW: The street food revolution has changed
the way we eat. You have amazingly passionate
people creating brilliant food at £7-a-head in a tent
on a street. The challenge is to do something that
works in a stadium when faced with 5,000 people
an hour. It’s not impossible but it requires good
equipment and people. As you go higher up the
hospitality ladder, we are delivering exceptional
dining experiences, and this demands a level of
talent previously unavailable within the industry.
What is the impact of technology on
your work and how does it play a role in
raising the standard of VIP hospitality?
RK: Innovations are making the guest experience
more efficient. We’ve introduced cashless technology
at Tottenham Hotspur FC and Twickenham to increase
speed of service. Technology is raising standards
all round, from redesigning under-utilized spaces to
table-top ordering. Smart technologies are creating
seamless experiences. For example, there are now
apps for in-seat ordering. We’ve installed a Bottoms
Up beer system at Tottenham that dispenses a pint
in six seconds.
NG: Technology drives decisions. Data analytics
now allows us to quickly pull up dashboards to view
trends, review year-on-year performance, see who is on
our site and monitor sales performance. Tech works at
every level to streamline processes and serve customers
the right information at the right time. Meanwhile, the
human interaction element of service should steer clear
of automation. Technology can drive the systems used
back of house, but there’s still nothing more welcoming
than a smile.
BD: There is both a need for high-tech and high
service. The two are not mutually exclusive. High-tech
only works if it creates a new, real service offering.
RW: Technology lets us understand guests better.
With better information on who’s in the stadium, we
can better predict behavior and create more personal
experiences. At Forward Associates, we are trialing
new technology that lets us predict guest behavior
depending on any number of factors, from the weather
to the category of game. It lets us accurately predict
the most popular dishes and drinks for every game.
What do you think the future holds
for VIP hospitality?
RK: It’s an exciting time, with more people buying
into hospitality and clients becoming invested in the
market’s transformation. New products are being
developed and brought to market rapidly and this
will benefit fans, stakeholders and clients alike.
NG: Constant innovation, pushing boundaries
and creating world-class, immersive experiences.
BD: I believe the entire venues are going to be
gentrified and that 24/7 service will be available,
especially for those top rungs of the ladder. n
(Above) Visitors can drink and
listen to live music in Tottenham
Hotspur’s Market Place bar for
two hours after the final whistle
“Technology lets us understand guests better. With better
information on who’s in the stadium, we can better predict
behavior and create more personal experiences”
Roy Westwood, founder, Forward Associates
86 www.stadia-magazine.com Showcase 2020