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Building loyalty through service: Insights from a venue transformation

In 2007, The O2 arena opened in London to worldwide acclaim. Facilities and customer experiences were taken to a new level, as owners AEG took the first steps in transforming the abandoned Millennium Dome into what is now the world’s number one entertainment venue.

Behind the scenes, the physical transformation was mirrored in a remarkable programme of education and training for everybody working at The O2.

Inside insights

XL-AllenStardustO2Allen Roberts, Head of Learning at Xperiology, recalls his experience in leading the Learning and Development role at AEG Europe during the recruitment phase and countdown to opening:

“Opening The O2 was an interesting challenge for me. I had no background in stadia or arenas and had only ever experienced them from a customer point of view. In some ways I was lucky in that it was very clear from the outset that we didn’t want to re-create what was already in existence.

“We wanted to re-define the arena experience and wherever possible introduce a service level parallel to a four or five star hotel. No pressure then!”


Xl-EveryNewStarter200pxThe key element of the HR transformation was in education, explains Allen:

“The two biggest learns for me from the experience were the importance of educating and setting clear expectations.

“For The O2, I started by introducing pre-employment training to the local community, guaranteeing those who successfully completed the training an interview for a customer-facing role.

“Why? Firstly, this gave us a chance to educate the local community on exactly what was due to be developed under that great big white tent and clear up all the rumours and gossip. Secondly, we could set a clear expectation on what we were looking to deliver service wise; nobody could ever claim that they didn’t know our expectations were going to be high.”



Keep this in mind when tendering for services, especially those which you may not immediately perceive as being customer-focused:

“I made sure the same procedure was followed when it came to putting out to tender our stewarding and security positions.

“We educated them on what we were looking to develop with bricks and mortar and we set a clear expectation on the service delivery.

“Finally all new starters, regardless of employer and position had to attend our Orientation programme. This full day introduction gave us the opportunity to educate all new starters on the facilities we could offer to our visitors and ensured they could make informed statements about our venue. In addition we could set clear expectations on how we wanted service to be delivered at The O2, i.e. consistency.”


XL-Consistency200pxAllen concludes:

“Look at any kind of market / brand research; you only get people’s loyalty when you deliver consistent levels of service.

“It takes people to deliver this service level, buildings don’t build loyalty, people do – educate them and set clear expectations so they can go out to your customers and deliver consistent levels of service.”

What’s Next?

Allen Roberts leads Xperience Learning – a range of learning and development programmes for the entertainment venue sector:

  • RE-ENERGISE YOUR VENUE EXPERIENCE – A one day course to help you re-evaluate and re-energise your customer service experience. Course dates: 28 or 30 October 2013 (Download the PDF)
  • LEADING YOUR VENUE EXPERIENCE – A three day/two night intensive (but informal) programme designed to help you lead customer service change at your venue. Course dates: 11-12-13 November or 18-19-20 November 2013 (Download the PDF)

Any questions? Got a venue service challenge? Want to build a better venue business? You can reach Allen via email here.

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Posted in Latest News | Xperiology