PARRAMATTA - SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
"The success of the Bankwest Stadium project is not only testament to the power of the TASK transaction management platform, but an illustration of how technology partnerships bring benefit to both sides."
Since officially opening in April 2019 Bankwest Stadium, located in Sydney’s geographic heart of Parramatta, has become a firm fan-favourite. Developed specifically with spectators in mind, the new stadium includes design features and facilities that promise to bring supporters closer to the action than ever before.
Owned by the NSW government and operated by VenuesLive NSW, Bankwest was developed as a replacement for the existing Parramatta Stadium, which dated back to 1986. The venue is home to three football codes and regularly hosts local and international touring acts including Elton John, Cold Chisel and Birds of Tokyo.
Featuring the steepest grandstands in Australia and the country’s first major installation of modern safe standing design, the focus at this rectangular stadium is steadfastly on the fan experience – from optimised field sightlines in every seat through to streamlined food service delivery, no aspect is overlooked when aiming to deliver the ultimate day out.
The business need
Time frames on this project were tight. VenuesLive NSW was appointed operator of the stadium in October 2018 while construction was still in progress. With the final structure due for completion in early 2019, the company would have just three weeks between final handover and the first scheduled event – a home game for Rugby League foundation team, Parramatta Eels. This would mean working closely with the operator to ensure deadlines were met and having extensive experience in successful deployments of large-scale stadium projects
The cornerstone of a superior guest experience is efficient food and beverage service so, first and foremost, VenuesLive NSW was looking for a POS solution that could meet stringent service targets. Having set a 60 second counter service time, the company needed an underlying POS platform that was both immediate and intuitive. VenuesLive NSW draws from a pool of 2000 casual staff, so simplicity-of-use for the rotating catering team was paramount, particularly to meet demand during peak periods such as pre-game and half-time.
In addition to the general admission zones, VenuesLive NSW provides in-suite service in its corporate hospitality areas, so the company was looking for a mobile solution to effectively manage the ordering and delivery process, freeing up suite attendants to look after guests.
From an operational perspective, VenuesLive NSW was interested in real-time inventory and ordering functionality to facilitate on-the-fly stocktake and adjustments, though this was part of a medium- to longer-term implementation plan. The most pressing requirement for phase one deployment was a solid reporting tool, which could provide valuable insight into the behavioural trends of stadium guests and pave the way for more accurate operational planning.
Daniel Farrar is General Manager of Digital and Technology at VenuesLive NSW, looking after the technology footprint for both Bankwest Stadium and the nearby ANZ Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park. He was responsible for assessing operational and technology requirements and sourcing suitable solutions.
Already aware of the TASK platform, Farrar decided to investigate further and says the company’s ethos of innovation and a focus on delivering a better customer experience played a significant part in the ultimate decision.
“The decision to go with TASK was really based around their openness to innovation and integration. Everything they develop is with a future customer enhancement in mind. Not only do they do the basics well, but they have an ability to scale really easily through provision of a range of innovative solutions – whether that’s self-serve kiosks for food and beverage, through loyalty and online ordering apps or via any of the other customer touchpoints that are coming out of the technology space."
“Those customer-facing elements, along with a solid API set that allows us to seamlessly integrate with other stadium elements, are what takes the TASK offering above and beyond being merely a point of sale. That focus, flexibility and scalability were what solidified our decision,” he said.
Initially, VenuesLive NSW deployed TASKs centralised POS terminal management solution, inventory management and an in-suite management tool to facilitate speed-of-delivery and streamline food and beverage operations. With the system proven, it opened the door for development of a customised app that would further increase the guest experience, delivering value via a mechanism that is now almost universally expected.
For Farrar, the decision to develop an app was a no-brainer.
“Technology has definitely changed the fan experience, as people’s expectation now is to access and receive information via mobile phone. We realised the need to embrace mobility and provide the services our guests want using that technology,” he said.
Shane Stoddard is General Manager Commercial at VenuesLive NSW. He says the app as a logical extension of the system and a great value-add for stadium guests, regardless of the event.
“We chose TASK to develop and implement our app because we’d already integrated the solution across the entire venue – it just made sense to run a seamless solution throughout. The app is the foundation for our loyalty program, so it’s not only a source of information, but also the instrument we use to reward our guests. Because it’s a dedicated Bankwest Stadium app and not limited to one club or event, every single person attending the venue can enjoy those rewards,” he said.
Short implementation lead times on technology deployments can be problematic, but Farrar says the TASK team ably rose to the occasion.
“We had a great experience despite the condensed timeframe. The TASK team bent over backwards to roll-out the system as quickly as possible. Working closely together meant we were able to prioritise what needed to be done and when. It’s also an ongoing process – since opening we’ve continued a program of refinement and improvement based on what we’ve learned and we’ve been able to put together a plan for what we will do in the future,” he said.
Large-scale deployments are usually complex, with or without short lead times. The Bankwest Stadium project was no exception but, thanks to extensive experience in the stadium sector, the TASK engineers knew what to expect. Stoddard says the team brought plenty to the table.
“In that lead-up to opening we only had three weeks to configure everything, so we were in contact with the TASK team not just daily, but sometimes hourly. We were not only working extremely closely, but they thought of things that we didn’t even foresee. It was great having them on hand to assist before anything went off track,” he said.
Andreas Breitfuss is General Manager of Catering at VenuesLive NSW, overseeing all aspects of catering operations, production and delivery. He says one of his team’s biggest challenges is ensuring quality and consistency of delivery, thanks in part, to the utilisation of a large pool of casual staff. From his perspective, the TASK solution has more than delivered on its promise.
“Efficiently servicing 30,000 guests is a lot of pressure – especially at half-time. One of the best things about the TASK solution is how simple it is to use. Of course, we provide staff with pre-event training including POS-specific instruction, but the inherent intuitiveness of the system and simplicity of design really makes that job much easier. It’s also widely-used within the industry, so many of our workforce are already familiar with it before they start,” he said.
For Breitfuss, access to accurate information has been vital to realising efficiency improvements.
“We knew there was a more efficient way to run catering – to deliver better customer service and more effective staff. The TASK POS gives us that efficiency, but so does the inventory management and reporting functionality. By integrating inventory, ordering and sales we can easily analyse real operational costs and do things like track wastage far more easily.
“From a management perspective, accurate reporting is everything. A lot of the products in catering work on small margins, so knowing exactly where we stand at all times – be it mid-game or post event – is a really valuable tool."
Farrar sees the instant availability of accurate data as the key to successful planning.
“The best thing about the TASK transaction management platform is that it gives us a whole-of-business view of our F&B operations. We’ve been able to incorporate a range of functions into the system that provides day-to-day, minute-to-minute visibility, which gives a clearer understanding of our operations and lets us plan much more effectively,” he said
In dynamic industries such as this – where technology is increasingly used to improve service delivery – there’s always a future plan in the wings. At Bankwest, that means the unyielding focus on the fans won’t waver anytime soon.
Stoddard keeps an eye on both local and overseas industry trends to get a feel for where things are headed.
“We generally look to the US and the UK to see how things are being done. At the moment, it is very much about serving the customer quickly and efficiently. We’ve seen the advent of cashless transactions, kiosks and a total self-serve model where guests order via their mobile phone, arrive, pick-up food, pay via the app and move on. We’ve got no doubt that’s where everything is heading,” he said.
Farrar agrees that superior service remains the foundation philosophy.
“Everything we do is for our customers and the POS is such an important part of that. We’ll keep looking at how to move our guests through queues more quickly and how to give them more options. We’ll continue to work with TASK to streamline our processes and provide customers with more choice.
“Our partnership with TASK is a growing one and something we definitely want to evolve. We have a long list of things we want to implement, including more work on the app. We’ll continue to develop that until it is an essential part of a game day experience. For the guest, it’s about more than F&B, so we’ll be doing work on integration other venue services elements like parking and ticketing and even messaging to the video screen,” he said.
For Breitfuss, future plans include an increased focus on the inventory management aspects.
“We’ve certainly realised a few things since opening. From my perspective, a key learning is ‘the more POS, the better’. It’s so much more efficient and really does provide a better customer outcome. We’ll look at developing alternative orderings options as well, like in-seat ordering.
“We will definitely continue to explore additional ways to realise the power of the system including more effective stock movement capability utilisation – so if we sell out of an item it comes off the POS and the menu screen automatically, for example,” he said.
The success of the Bankwest Stadium project is not only testament to the power of the TASK transaction management platform, but an illustration of how technology partnerships bring benefit to both sides.