In May, the stadium beat off stiff international competition to win the Best New Venue Award at the Stadium Business Awards in Turin. That success was swiftly followed by the Directors Choice Award at the Football Hospitality Awards. Regarded as one of the toughest categories to win, Brighton & Hove Albion was graded by visiting directors of other clubs on the stadium, the welcome and the standard of hospitality on offer.
The stadium’s staff training programme, Team Brighton, was developed by its training partner Nick Brice, whose company, 360 Degree Vision™, uses tools developed as a result of years of experience in both people and organisational development and successful theatrical production.
Brice and his team were brought in to help Brighton & Hove Albion transition from its old home at an 8,500 seat athletics track to a brand new, state-of-the-art, custom built stadium that now seats 28,500 people.
“We were invited to suggest ways of helping Brighton & Hove Albion take a group of people that had been working out of a much smaller ground and up their game to provide a customer experience fitting for a five star stadium. This experience needed to be delivered across all touch-points on both match and non-match days and deliver a level of customer satisfaction that kept them coming back,” explains Brice.
The stadium’s first year has been so successful that almost all next season’s season tickets have already been sold – with only 800 remaining as of June 25. As a result of the attractiveness of last season’s match day experience, the club is 10th on season ticket sales in the whole football league – including the Premier League .
“The club has done an amazing job,” says Brice. “Its staff have been incredible. Our role was as a stimulus, a catalyst to show them what they could achieve and make them run with it, and they didn’t just run, they flew.”
The key to successful people and organisational development, says Brice, is authentic engagement. And that’s where 360 Degree Vision™ really scores. Says Brice: “People have to feel they are part of a story. To know where they’ve been and where they are going. They need a roadmap to success and to understand the part they play in it, one which stimulates the senses and gets their juices flowing. But if you only do things at arm’s length, that’s the level of engagement you’ll get.”
“Our role is to provoke, stimulate, nudge, encourage and chivvy,” says Brice. “We give people experiences, frameworks and strategies that collectively get them on the same playing field and help them achieve their goals.”
To do this, Psychology graduate Brice uses a combination of techniques garnered from a 25 year career in staff training and consultancy that’s seen him work all over the world for companies like Amex, BA, Toyota and TMI, together with a successful background in writing and producing plays which have won critical acclaim at both the Edinburgh and Brighton Festivals. In 2010, he was asked to produce seven of them for broadcast on the Sky Arts channel – as well as recently leading a ‘creative team culture’ session for the channel’s programme makers.
“It was around then that I started to try and explore how to use some of the techniques of theatre in business,” says Brice. “Theatre is an incredibly powerful medium, and I was convinced that energy could be harnessed to engage staff in a way that nothing else could.”
Brice’s first application of applied theatre was with TMI in Scotland, in a programme to improve Glasgow Housing Association’s housing repair and maintenance service. After detailed research, actors were used to represent tenants in realistic real-life immersive environments at conference events.
“Without exception, the association staff bought into it. They were given an authentic insight into their customers’ experiences of them and through that, learned how to improve the service and work better together,” says Brice. This resounding success was repeated with a national retailer, using actors in in live theatre ‘playbacks’ of real stories (anonymously) of staff experiences of managers who had not lived the company’s values.
Brice calls this tool VerbatimPlayback™. He’s gone on to use it with other clients to create thought provoking and challenging ways of examining issues as diverse as customer needs, culture differences, employee motivations and skills challenges for different generations and cultures, management skills and corporate tools.
VerbatimPlayback™ is one of many tools 360 Degree Vision uses. And, at the Amex Stadium, a whole range of techniques were used to create a programme that involved the entire organisation.
Built on a foundation of extensive research, the programme first concentrated on helping hone the club’s story and strategy. The next step was to ensure that all staff members were fully on board with it and not only fully supported but co-authored the values underpinning the strategy.
“As a verbalisation of the heart and soul of an organisation, especially one such as a football club where customer experience is at the core of its offer, values are critical. Using shared values involves everyone in the goal. But it’s not something you can just play lip service to. Values have to be adopted and used as an integral part of people’s working lives, and that’s why it’s important that all staff were deeply engaged in the process.”
Staff engagement was cemented still further with a massive event – the first one ever to be held at the stadium. The day focused on different areas of the customer journey and care was taken to make it as exciting and memorable as possible with artists, acrobats, a ten foot high footballer as well as keynote speeches from players and executives. “We showed them what was possible and in doing so, showed them what they could achieve,” says Brice.
Other ongoing strategies included HR development clinics, mystery shopping, monthly feedback sessions, team leadership skills, staff “champions,” noticeboards and graffiti walls.
Martin Perry, CEO and now Executive Director of Brighton and Hove Albion and The Community Stadium Ltd. says: “They worked with us to clarify and communicate our customer experience strategy and are developing our people and their teams to deliver it. They did a great job in helping us achieve a very high level of performance in a very short time.”
360 Degree Vision also offers clients a further range of training opportunities, including e-learning, coaching sessions, interactive video-based learning modules with leaders/discussion guides, facilitator training and a range of short, sharp and savvy development programmes for busy people and teams that last from 20 minutes to half a day called Bite-Size Bootcamps™.
Another highly effective tool is Bite-Size Plays™, the company’s multi-award winning international collection of ten minute plays that can deliver a unique hospitality experience as well as being adapted to reinforce key messages such as customer service, respect, diversity and inclusion and sustainability. The plays have sold out at Brighton and Edinburgh for the last five years and are suitable for a wide range of venues and events.
“With a wide range of tools and techniques and highly experienced and creative staff, we can choose the right media and approach to engage people effectively and deliver the key client objectives,” says Brice. He adds: “Every client is different and every programme is tailored to suit them. I’m delighted the one we developed for the Amex Stadium has been instrumental in their success, and hope to see this fantastic start, where they’ve already won Best New Stadium at the International Stadium Awards, go from strength to strength in years to come.”
For further information or to set up an interview with founder Nick Brice please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07778-356954.