The latest industry news to your inbox.

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities


I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy


Venues: Our cultural hubs

Sodexo Live! UK&I CEO Rebecca Kane Burton champions innovation as being key to meeting customer expectations across the industry

19 May 2023

Rebecca Kane Burton served spells as VP and GM of The O2 in London and CEO of West End venue chain LW Theatres prior to becoming UK&I CEO for venue services company Sodexo Live! last June. Here, she champions innovation as being key to meeting customer expectations across the venues and live entertainment industries…

There is nothing more exciting than the hushed anticipation of a live performance about to start. For me, it doesn’t matter if there are five or 50,000 people; the magic of the event itself is always what keeps the audience coming back for more.

The pandemic left the live events industry a shell of its former self, so making way for these events to flourish will draw people back into towns and cities and support economic growth throughout the country. A vibrant events calendar supports local communities, promotes world-leading creativity, and has a tangible economic impact.

That’s why I was so excited to become Sodexo Live!’s CEO. It is an opportunity to effect real change and highlight why live events and performances are crucial as the beating heart of urban hubs across the UK.

The pandemic was an awful time for us all, and many industries were severely impacted. However, I really feel theatre and live events were treated incredibly unfairly. What happens when you stop the live industry is you also stop all the things it enables – hotels, restaurants – and all that secondary spend adds up and has an impact on towns and cities across the country. Not to mention impacting the livelihoods of the million plus people employed by the live industry.

As the sector continues to recover, innovation must be at the core of all our thinking across the industry, especially as customers expect, and deserve, the best experience in the current economic climate. People might choose to go out less, but when they do, they will want quality experiences and will vote with their feet.

“I always like to look outside my industry for inspiration and fresh ideas to see what boundaries are being pushed and how we can implement them into our cutting-edge strategies”

At Sodexo Live! we want to work with venue partners who have the ambition to drive change and pioneer new ways of engaging people in entertainment and cultural events. That means talking about how we can elevate the experience for every single person who enters one of our partner venues. We are about improving the customer journey across every site we operate in, whether that be with a ten-course tasting menu paired with wines served by an expert sommelier or a fantastic pie and chips at matchday.

The joy of being a part of such a large company working across many industries is the knowledge and experience we can draw on from Sodexo as a whole. It provides us with valuable support in terms of development while allowing us to continue to focus on delivering innovative solutions. It’s about listening intently to our venue partners’ wants and needs, tapping into the variety of resources we already have access to.

While being a part of a global multifaceted firm is a huge advantage, innovation is the key to elevating experiences and keeping people engaged. I always like to look outside my industry for inspiration and fresh ideas to see what boundaries are being pushed and how we can implement them into our cutting-edge strategies. Sodexo Live! has an excellent opportunity to work with our partners to establish new ways of thinking, and I would encourage others to do the same. For instance, we’re deploying innovative sustainable strategies that can act as future models for how events are run. Our recent work with farmer & CEO Tom Morphew of Full Circle Farms demonstrates just that. A truly regenerative social value farm in the heart of the Sussex Downs, Tom and his team are passionate about farming that doesn’t use chemicals or pesticides, in turn improving soil health and combating climate change. His full-circle farming model gives his produce its amazing taste. Leftover ingredients and appropriate food waste from events are supplied to the farm to create compost and fertiliser, which are then used to grow next year’s crop of fruit and vegetables, which in turn are then sent back to the venues.

I’m passionate about putting the customer first and creating memorable experiences at iconic events and venues. I want to do things differently in the live marketplace by supporting the businesses we partner with, through innovation, food, and pioneering technology. As we get further into 2023, we will have some other exciting innovative initiatives to share and shout about, and I also look forward to seeing how others across the industry are innovating.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.