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ASM Global’s Alex Merchán talks fan satisfaction

ASM Global’s Alex Merchán has told IQ how the venue giant is “leading the charge” for the return of live events around the world.

The firm was fast out of the blocks in launching a new series of hygiene protocols, dubbed VenueShield, in May 2020, shortly after the onset of the pandemic.

Described as a “comprehensive, best-in-class programme” providing “trusted protection”, VenueShield has been rolled out at more than 350 of ASM Global’s venues, which include leading entertainment arenas such as AO Arena in Manchester, UK; Rudolf-Weber Arena in Oberhausen, Germany; Avicii Arena in Stockholm; the OVO Arena in Wembley, London and Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai.

“VenueShield is our commitment in partnership with the top medical professionals and associations to develop the best environment we could, and reassure customers and talent that certain checklists are being addressed,” says Merchán, ASM’s EVP of marketing. “We all had to switch our roles and play defence, and take the opportunity to plan ahead and think, ‘What will make a difference for this business one, three, five years down the road?’ That is what we spend our energy on.

“I like to think many of us are in this industry because we love it, it’s not just a job. And with that mindset, we remind ourselves that we are fans first. So how do we make sure the customer experience is a phenomenal one and that we lead the charge?”

Formerly of Live Nation and Hard Rock International, Merchán was named ASM’s first marketing head last December. He has been instrumental in the execution and implementation of the company’s strategic partnership with experience management leader Qualtrics to create an in-depth data and analytics platform for live events, offering “unprecedented” industry insights into fan sentiments, needs and habits.

Using Qualtrics, it has rolled out ASM Global Insights, a platform that allows real time access to guest interactions and feedback. The multi-touch point platform provides access to industry trends and themes with a view across all venue and event types as well as geographic regions.

“It’s the first truly global integrated customer experience platform for our industry”

“The partnership with Qualtrics leverages their technology and platform with our global footprint and local expertise,” explains Merchán. “It’s the first truly global integrated customer experience platform for our industry, and what it helps us unlock is going to be critical. It will help provide us with a deeper understanding of the customer experience to inform decisions.

“We see great value for our partners in being able to provide them with deep, rich insights, not just for the single location, but to have the opportunity to tap into like-minded leaders and understand things that might come up consistently and inform the rest of the business. We see that improving the customer experience, and that’s what matters. It’s deepening our data touch points and our understanding of the consumer and their journey.

“ASM Global leads the charge in coming back to live events around the world and we do it in a way where we know people have a good experience.”

The company named 30-year veteran Chris Bray as its new EVP of European operations last December and expanded its content division last week with the hire of Duc Nguyen as vice president of global content programming.

Merchán, who is scheduled to appear as part of the Sponsorship: Falling through the cracks? panel at ILMC, adds the venue business is continuing to show evidence of rebounding to its pre-pandemic status.

“We’re not quite at the level we all saw in late 2019, but the promise of it is there, which is the exciting part,” he says. “The signs are all pointing to us getting back to a more familiar space this year and definitely into next year.”


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