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Twickenham
Connected stadium

Thanks to investment from owner the RFU, Twickenham is now one of the most technologically advanced stadiums in the world. Tom Walker reports

By Tom Walker | Published in Sports Management 13 Jun 2016 issue 122


Prior to hosting the 2015 Rugby World Cup, The Rugby Football Union (RFU) set out to improve every aspect of the experience at Twickenham – the historic home of English rugby – for both players and fans. With a budget of around £76m, the RFU wanted to make significant modernisations to the stadium and place Twickenham at the forefront of stadia innovation.

The work included improvements to both fan and player areas and saw new changing rooms being built, modern health and fitness areas being introduced and player medical facilities being upgraded. The hallowed turf was relayed with a Desso GrassMaster hybrid grass pitch and in the stands, a large section of seats were replaced, additional public bars and toilets were added and improvements were made to the media facilities.

Perhaps the most impressive upgrading work, however, took place through a considerable investment in new technology around the venue. As part of the redevelopment, the RFU launched what it called the Connected Stadium project and worked with a number of tech partners to come up with innovative solutions which would both improve customer experience and fan engagement, as well as refine match day operations.

The results have been impressive. Following a successful Rugby World Cup, Twickenham is now considered among the most “connected” stadiums in the world – and has the industry awards to prove it. Last month, Twickenham’s new contactless payment solution earned it the “product innovation” award at the Stadium Business Awards. It has also been given the Worldpay Customer Experience Award and the Retail Systems Award for best use of technology in the hospitality & leisure sector.

“We have a number of industry firsts at Twickenham,” says George Vaughan, senior project manager at the RFU. “People representing sports venues from all over the world are taking notes on what we’re doing here with our connectivity.”

TARGETED MESSAGES
Central to the connected stadium concept has been the creation of a new digital infrastructure, through which the RFU is now able to digitally engage with fans during match days. “Upgrades to our systems were a key component in achieving success in delivering the Connected Stadium project,” says RFU’s IT operations manager, Mike Morris.

“Through installation of 700 Samsung digital displays, Internet Protocol television (IPTV) and digital signage, we now have the capability to deliver relevant, targeted messaging throughout the stadium from partner campaigns to stadium information.”

These targeted messages include everything from details on upcoming games and events for marketing to helpful advice on where fans might be able to get their halftime drinks quicker by avoiding the queues.

“Our new point of sales (POS) system can now ‘speak’ to our IPTV in a way that is quite uncommon in this sector,” adds Vaughan. “For example, we can facilitate queue management via the POS in real time, based upon sales volumes.

“We do this by measuring transactions across all tills and drilling into the data immediately. If the system detects that there are a lot of transactions coming in from level one bars – meaning that they are busy – but not that many on the level above, then it will push a message to all the screens on level one to say ‘if you are queuing for food or drink, take the stairs and go up to level two and get served quickly.”

MEASURING SUCCESS
As well as improving fan experience, the new POS system is able to deliver key operational benefits. “One of these is the introduction of contactless payments across every till,” Vaughan says.

“It gives our fans the choice of how they want to pay – and also helps speed the transaction time at the bar and across the stores.

“Statistics show that a cash transaction – on average – takes around 17 seconds to complete. A contactless payment, meanwhile, takes four seconds. For a venue such as Twickenham, with a capacity of 82,000, those extra seconds quickly start to accumulate and turn into minutes.”

“We also introduced tablets in our corporate hospitality areas and boxes in order to do away with time-consuming, physical, paper-based catalogues. Our hosts and hostesses now carry tablets which allow them to place orders in real time and it has transformed the way we interact in those areas.

“Adding to that, we have the first fully connected smartphone POS for hawkers, allowing all of our 145 hawkers to take card payments – including contactless and smartphone payments. It’s really speeded up transactions.”

Vaughan adds that as well as providing fans with a better experience, the changes have been good for bottom lines too. “In the first four months since introducing the tablets in the corporate areas, we had a sales uplift of 45 per cent. That is a rather big increase and shows that people most definitely are comfortable with the technology.”

VISUAL IMPACTS
As well as increasing fan engagement through the sales experience, there have also been improvements in the Twickenham’s AV infrastructure. Two huge new HD screens – measuring 169sq m (1,800sq ft) each – have been installed and suspended from the stadium roof. Capable of broadcasting HD live video and instant replays, the screens have been brought in to capture fans’ attention during breaks in play and to compete with “third screens” – mobile phones and other devices brought in by fans. The removal of Twickenham’s old screens also had the added benefit of making space for an extra 650 seats, increasing total stadium capacity to 82,000.

Being dubbed the most “connected stadium in the world” is a source of pride for Vaughan, who says that there are now parallels between what goes on behind the scenes and on the pitch.

“All of our systems communicate with each other now,” he says, describing the new technology. “We’ve taken the famous team ethos of rugby – which we push out on the field – and extended it to our operations off it.”


The Partners
RFU worked with Comsec to ensure it achieved and then maintained the required level of compliance with PCI (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).

The dynamic POS technology was supplied by Kappture and offers a number of operational benefits. Tills can be set up in seconds, training is delivered via video lessons straight from the POS and the system is integrated into the connected network.

Stock and cash management systems were delivered by Triple Jump, providing RFU with a real time view on every transaction.

RFU’s acquiring partner Worldpay has helped install a fully contactless system which accepts card payments as well as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay across all 500+ sales points.

The new IPTV system can be used to direct fans to concessions with shorter queues
Fans can now enjoy a more connected visit
All of Twickenham’s 145 hawkers are connected to the central system
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Sports Management
13 Jun 2016 issue 122

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Connected stadium

Twickenham

Connected stadium


Thanks to investment from owner the RFU, Twickenham is now one of the most technologically advanced stadiums in the world. Tom Walker reports

Tom Walker, Leisure Media
RFU, Twickenham is now one of the most technologically advanced stadiums in the world
The new IPTV system can be used to direct fans to concessions with shorter queues
Fans can now enjoy a more connected visit
All of Twickenham’s 145 hawkers are connected to the central system

Prior to hosting the 2015 Rugby World Cup, The Rugby Football Union (RFU) set out to improve every aspect of the experience at Twickenham – the historic home of English rugby – for both players and fans. With a budget of around £76m, the RFU wanted to make significant modernisations to the stadium and place Twickenham at the forefront of stadia innovation.

The work included improvements to both fan and player areas and saw new changing rooms being built, modern health and fitness areas being introduced and player medical facilities being upgraded. The hallowed turf was relayed with a Desso GrassMaster hybrid grass pitch and in the stands, a large section of seats were replaced, additional public bars and toilets were added and improvements were made to the media facilities.

Perhaps the most impressive upgrading work, however, took place through a considerable investment in new technology around the venue. As part of the redevelopment, the RFU launched what it called the Connected Stadium project and worked with a number of tech partners to come up with innovative solutions which would both improve customer experience and fan engagement, as well as refine match day operations.

The results have been impressive. Following a successful Rugby World Cup, Twickenham is now considered among the most “connected” stadiums in the world – and has the industry awards to prove it. Last month, Twickenham’s new contactless payment solution earned it the “product innovation” award at the Stadium Business Awards. It has also been given the Worldpay Customer Experience Award and the Retail Systems Award for best use of technology in the hospitality & leisure sector.

“We have a number of industry firsts at Twickenham,” says George Vaughan, senior project manager at the RFU. “People representing sports venues from all over the world are taking notes on what we’re doing here with our connectivity.”

TARGETED MESSAGES
Central to the connected stadium concept has been the creation of a new digital infrastructure, through which the RFU is now able to digitally engage with fans during match days. “Upgrades to our systems were a key component in achieving success in delivering the Connected Stadium project,” says RFU’s IT operations manager, Mike Morris.

“Through installation of 700 Samsung digital displays, Internet Protocol television (IPTV) and digital signage, we now have the capability to deliver relevant, targeted messaging throughout the stadium from partner campaigns to stadium information.”

These targeted messages include everything from details on upcoming games and events for marketing to helpful advice on where fans might be able to get their halftime drinks quicker by avoiding the queues.

“Our new point of sales (POS) system can now ‘speak’ to our IPTV in a way that is quite uncommon in this sector,” adds Vaughan. “For example, we can facilitate queue management via the POS in real time, based upon sales volumes.

“We do this by measuring transactions across all tills and drilling into the data immediately. If the system detects that there are a lot of transactions coming in from level one bars – meaning that they are busy – but not that many on the level above, then it will push a message to all the screens on level one to say ‘if you are queuing for food or drink, take the stairs and go up to level two and get served quickly.”

MEASURING SUCCESS
As well as improving fan experience, the new POS system is able to deliver key operational benefits. “One of these is the introduction of contactless payments across every till,” Vaughan says.

“It gives our fans the choice of how they want to pay – and also helps speed the transaction time at the bar and across the stores.

“Statistics show that a cash transaction – on average – takes around 17 seconds to complete. A contactless payment, meanwhile, takes four seconds. For a venue such as Twickenham, with a capacity of 82,000, those extra seconds quickly start to accumulate and turn into minutes.”

“We also introduced tablets in our corporate hospitality areas and boxes in order to do away with time-consuming, physical, paper-based catalogues. Our hosts and hostesses now carry tablets which allow them to place orders in real time and it has transformed the way we interact in those areas.

“Adding to that, we have the first fully connected smartphone POS for hawkers, allowing all of our 145 hawkers to take card payments – including contactless and smartphone payments. It’s really speeded up transactions.”

Vaughan adds that as well as providing fans with a better experience, the changes have been good for bottom lines too. “In the first four months since introducing the tablets in the corporate areas, we had a sales uplift of 45 per cent. That is a rather big increase and shows that people most definitely are comfortable with the technology.”

VISUAL IMPACTS
As well as increasing fan engagement through the sales experience, there have also been improvements in the Twickenham’s AV infrastructure. Two huge new HD screens – measuring 169sq m (1,800sq ft) each – have been installed and suspended from the stadium roof. Capable of broadcasting HD live video and instant replays, the screens have been brought in to capture fans’ attention during breaks in play and to compete with “third screens” – mobile phones and other devices brought in by fans. The removal of Twickenham’s old screens also had the added benefit of making space for an extra 650 seats, increasing total stadium capacity to 82,000.

Being dubbed the most “connected stadium in the world” is a source of pride for Vaughan, who says that there are now parallels between what goes on behind the scenes and on the pitch.

“All of our systems communicate with each other now,” he says, describing the new technology. “We’ve taken the famous team ethos of rugby – which we push out on the field – and extended it to our operations off it.”


The Partners
RFU worked with Comsec to ensure it achieved and then maintained the required level of compliance with PCI (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard).

The dynamic POS technology was supplied by Kappture and offers a number of operational benefits. Tills can be set up in seconds, training is delivered via video lessons straight from the POS and the system is integrated into the connected network.

Stock and cash management systems were delivered by Triple Jump, providing RFU with a real time view on every transaction.

RFU’s acquiring partner Worldpay has helped install a fully contactless system which accepts card payments as well as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay across all 500+ sales points.


Originally published in Sports Management 13 Jun 2016 issue 122

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd