SBJ/June 19-25, 2017/Power Players

Need to know: How will facility management skills change?

How will the job, skill sets and requirements of a position like yours change over the next 10 years?

DAVE BROWN, American Airlines Arena: The venue operating environment is changing very rapidly due to external factors, and venue professionals must adapt just as quickly to stay current. Look at how social media and security threats have changed our profession in the last 10 years. Certainly there are things we don’t even know are coming over the next 10 years that will have the same impact. Venue executives must stay informed and ready to address what the next big things may be.

SCOTT JENKINS, Mercedes-Benz Stadium: Technology-driven data and social media are all around us in our hyperconnected world. We’ll need to sort through the noise of an over-abundance of data to find actionable information. At the same time, we need to stay connected on a personal level with our customers and associates. Being good at both will be key.

ALLEN JOHNSON, Amway Center/Camping World Stadium: Technology will continue to evolve and change the way we work and the expectations of our patrons. The experience will continue to be what we should focus on and how we can make that better, easier and pertinent. We must continue to adapt to the changes coming as well as to anticipate what is next. We will be challenged to find ways to make more money and to spend less.

JIM MERCURIO, Levi’s Stadium: I can see the next 10 years requiring a more centralized approach on how we serve our customers. For example, what we know and understand about our customers’ wants, needs and desires, spending habits, arrival patterns, etc. all helps toward delivering upon the needs of our customers. Using and understanding data and analytics is and will likely remain an important tool and skill set in developing mechanisms to be sure that we deliver quality customer service as we strive to exceed our customers’ expectations, which are consistently on the rise and for good reason.

I think our focus on safety and security will need to remain at the forefront. That said, we must continue to strive toward integrating smart technologies, guest services and event staffing training initiatives that complement our security programs.

I might also suggest that in 10 years, the baby boomer generation might need some additional assistance with targeted focus on their needs, desires and accommodations given the fact that they make up a substantial amount of the North American population — somewhere around 20 percent.

Lastly, I will contend that the job will continue to require what it has for the 25-plus years that I’ve been in it. That is, people you can believe in. Employees you can trust. Mentors that can and actually teach. Leaders who aren’t afraid to make mistakes.

We’ve got all of that at the 49ers. I’ve been fortunate enough to have that around me my entire life.

JOHN PAGE, Wells Fargo Center: Adaptation to technology to allow venue relevance. There’s been so many recent developments and our job as facility managers will continue to be the incorporation of the technology to assist with the overall live experience. There’s still nothing like seeing your favorite team win or hearing that special song, but the recognition that technology integration makes all of those an even more special impression.

Management of the new generation will also be a challenge with their expectations. We will need to leverage our business culture to allow the future leaders to engage, embrace and commit to our organizations. Obviously what we do (the nights, weekends and volume) isn’t always easy but at the end of the day we still need to have fun doing what we do … we’re in the best business ever and the envy of many. Need that to translate to all of those that we touch!

ROY SOMMERHOF, M&T Bank Stadium: Security of our venues and their surrounding areas will continue to be a high priority. To that end, venue managers will likely need to pay particular attention to incidents globally, nationally, and locally to develop strategies that deal with ongoing threats. Those strategies will need to be adaptable to the threat at hand. The challenge for the venue manager of the future will be to implement security practices that keep the venue and fans safe from all types of threats, and at the same time produce minimal detrimental impact to the guest experience.

BRETT STEFANSSON, Philips Arena: We will continue to see rapid advancements in technology and analytics and having an understanding of these areas and how they influence the day to day business is critical.  

KIM STONE, AmericanAirlines Arena: To be effective venue managers, we have to stay ahead of how the world is changing and consumer behaviors are evolving. That is a daily challenge. The macro forces I’m watching that will have a long-term impact on the industry are mobile technology, data analytics and terrorism, both physical and cyber. The successful venue managers, therefore, will acquire the necessary expertise in these areas to maximize the opportunities and minimize the risks.

DAVE TOUHEY, Verizon Center: I think the more well-rounded with a complete understanding of the industry will be important. I think that technology is a huge growth area especially when coupled with experience at the venue. We are all competing for the same entertainment dollars across a lot of platforms, and venues need to stay on top of that. Another area that will continue to be a focus will be security. We are in a completely different place with security at venues than we were in the past, it is a critical area that requires attention. People skills and strong time management will always be important skill sets in this industry.

PAUL TURNER, AT&T Stadium: As a venue manager, our profession continues to evolve with the development of standards and practices, the application of new technologies, and efforts to make attending live sports and entertainment experiences compelling. Over the next 10 years the people who will be successful are those who continue to innovate, people who have a balance of creative skills with analytic abilities. Successful leaders will be people who build organizations that are able to adjust to changing situations and who put their people in a position to be successful.

LEE ZEIDMAN, Staples Center: I’ve always told young people trying to get into this business that it is not just a career or profession but a lifestyle. The hours and days can be incredibly long, it is event driven and there are no weekends and holidays off if you are hosting events. It can take its toll on relationships and families and it’s a must to understand and figure out a life/work balance early on or this industry could burn you out quickly. That said, the job takes strong leadership and relationship-building skills, the ability to coach and counsel employees, incredible amounts of patience, dedication, the ability to change decisions on the fly and a strong understanding of analytics and social media. Outside of understanding the latest and greatest technology that may be introduced over the next 10 years, I don’t see these core skill sets or requirements changing.


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