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Genting Arena to become Resorts World Arena

The UK’s NEC Group has announced the rebranding of Genting Arena to Resorts World Arena, aligning its branding with the shopping and entertainment centre opposite the venue.

Genting UK, a subsidiary of Kuala Lumpur-based Genting Group, has held the title sponsorship of the 15,700-capacity venue since January 2015, and will continue to do so under the new name. Resorts World Birmingham opened three years ago.

The new name is effective from 3 December 2018.

Phil Mead, managing director of NEC Group Arenas, comments: “The alignment of the Resorts World brand to our world-class arena will serve both parties well in maximising branding opportunities. Resorts World Birmingham was the first piece of the group’s leisure strategy to transform the NEC campus into a 24-hour leisure and entertainment destination, and has helped us to increase campus footfall, reaching 7.5 million in 2018.

“It makes sense to align the two venues under one brand”

“As a top destination on many touring routes, the arena has recently played host to global artists such as Iron Maiden, Paul Weller, Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue and has invested in excess of £3m in its facilities since partnering with Genting UK, enhancing the customer experience both front and back of house. This, teamed with the outstanding outlet shopping, leisure and a wide range of bars and restaurants for our visitors over the road at Resorts World Birmingham makes this an extremely cohesive partnership that’s helping to make our ambitious campus plans reality.”

“Resorts World Birmingham will celebrate its third birthday this October, and since we opened we have established ourselves as a major destination for leisure and entertainment experiences,” adds Ian Bennett, operations director for Resorts World Birmingham.

“Visitors to the arena are increasingly using Resorts World to add to their visit whether as a pre-event venue or to extend their experience post-show. Therefore, it makes sense to align the two venues under one brand. We are delighted to continue our relationship with the arena and the NEC Group with this exciting new brand development.”

Attendance at Birmingham-based NEC Group’s two arenas – Genting Arena and the 15,800-cap. Arena Birmingham – grew 17%, to over 1.6m, in 2017–18, bolstered by performers and shows including Drake, Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, Mickey Flanagan, John Bishop, Disney on Ice and Strictly Come Dancing.

 

 


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AEG launches new indoor festival, Made for the Weekend

AEG has partnered with Made Festival to launch Made for the Weekend, a new two-day indoor festival debuting this October at Genting Arena in Birmingham, UK.

Split into two themed days, Made for the Weekend will on Friday 12 October host a day of hip hop and grime, featuring Giggs, Stefflon Don, Pusha T, Nasty C and more, then on Saturday 13th present some of the giants of drum and bass and house music, with artists including Chase & Status and MC Rage, Andy C, Gorgon City, Max Chapman, Catz ’N Dogz and SaSaSaS taking over the 15,700-capacity arena from 2–11pm.

In joining forces with AEG, promoter We Made It Ltd says the Made Festival brand “steps up another level”, following its sold-out fifth-anniversary event in Birmingham last month.

“After the fifth year of the Made Festival summer edition and a 12,000 sell-out at Perry Park in July, we felt it was time to take the brand to the next level,” says festival director Pete Jordan.

“We are really excited to be working with the Made Festival team. They have built a great event with a strong following”

“We wanted to bring the extravaganza of the festival into an indoor setting, and in autumn, when the UK festival season is well and truly over. Choosing the world-class Genting Arena at the NEC for our new two-day event felt like an appropriate move, and we cannot wait to see the all-star, multi-genre line-up come to life there.”

Adds AEG/Goldenvoice UK promoter Oscar Tuttiett: “We are really excited to be working with the Made Festival team. They have built a great event with a strong following and we’re looking forward to seeing how we can build on this together.

“We are thrilled to be doing Made for the Weekend in Birmingham. It’s an amazing city that has been such a strong market for touring in recent years, and we hope the local community will be pleased to see this new indoor festival arrive.”

Day tickets are priced from £32.50, and weekend tickets from £55, plus booking fee, and will be available from the Made Festival website on Friday 10 August.

 


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NEC Group signs VR deal for arenas with MelodyVR

The NEC Group Arenas has formed a partnership with music virtual-reality (VR) company MelodyVR to offer virtual access to live events in its venues.

Concertgoers will be able to access a selection of past live events held at the Genting Arena (15,700-cap.) and Arena Birmingham (15,800-cap.) – both in Birmingham, UK – using VR technology, including performances from Royal Blood, the Script and UB40.

Over the coming months, MelodyVR will also live-stream concerts via VR in real time, and offer ‘virtual’ tickets to sold-out shows at the arenas.

Both will be available to purchase via the recently launched MelodyVR app, and promoted on selected event pages on the website of the Ticket Factory, the arenas’ official box office.

“Offering VR concerts to our customers gives them more opportunities to experience the live music they love”

Ian Congdon, head of venue sales at NEC Group Arenas, says: “VR is transforming the concert experience and shifting how fans can consume music, so it’s fantastic to partner with MelodyVR as pioneers in this field. Their usage of exciting features and technological capabilities means missing a must-see or sold-out show could become a thing of the past.

“Nothing can beat experiencing live music in a venue, but offering VR concerts to our customers gives them more opportunities to experience the live music they love and get closer to artists than ever before.”

“We are excited to be partnering with the NEC Group to deliver live and recorded VR experiences,” adds Steven Hancock, COO of MelodyVR. “Working with forward-thinking and progressive partners to make live music globally accessible via virtual reality are the foundations that MelodyVR was built on, [so] I’m very pleased that the NEC Group share that same passion for the future and we look forward to working together more closely.”

 


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Birmingham catches the Britpop bug with new Shiiine On fest

Bucket hats at the ready: hot on the heels of Cool Britannia, Britain is getting yet another Britpop-themed festival this summer, in the form of a new one-day Shiiine On event at Genting Arena in Birmingham.

Complementing the flagship Shiiine On Weekender at Butlin’s in Minehead, the one-day Shiiine On festival will take place at the 16,000-seat arena on 8 September 2018, and feature performances from Orbital, Shed Seven, Happy Mondays, Cast, Black Grape, Embrace and more.

The launch of the festival follows January’s news that famed outdoor venue Knebworth will this summer host Cool Britannia, a three-day ’90s-themed event also hosting sets by Happy Mondays, Embrace and Cast, along with the Lightning Seeds, Dodgy, Toploader and Ocean Colour Scene. Cool Britannia takes place around a week before Shiiine On, from 31 August to 2 September.

“These are the artists that soundtracked a golden era of music”

“These are the artists that soundtracked a golden era of music, and to have them all play this one day line-up is going to be epic,” says the Genting’s senior venue sales manager, Alex Ginever. “The Genting Arena is becoming a firm favourite as an alternative festival location for organisers and we’re sure that gig-goers are going to love it.”

Tickets for Shiiine On are on sale this Friday (4 May) via the Ticket Factory, priced at £66.65 for a standard ticket.

A full line-up is pictured below:

Shiiine On 2018

 


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NEC Group hires arena sales manager

Ben Sharman has joined NEC Group Arenas as venue sales manager.

Sharman – whose background in commercial marketing has seen him work on naming-rights agreements for both NEC arenas (the 16,000-cap. Genting Arena and 15,800-cap. Arena Birmingham, formerly Barclaycard Arena), as well as for Aston Villa Football Club and British Athletics – is tasked both with working with the arenas’ existing client base and bringing new business and event concepts to market.

Sharman comments: “This is a fantastic opportunity to take what I’ve learnt in my three years with the [NEC] Group, and support the arena venue sales team to drive sales and deliver the best service possible. I’m eager to join such an established and unique team that can offer the full package – not just event space, but a wealth of additional services through other NEC Group brands including ticket sales via The Ticket Factory, Amplify hospitality and in-house marketing support.”

“I’m eager to join such an established and unique team that can offer the full package”

“Ben will be a great addition to the team,” adds NEC Group Arenas head of sales Ian Congdon. “He’s already had exposure to the arenas industry in his previous group role, and I have no doubt that his enthusiasm and ambition will shine through in the quality of business he will deliver to our venues.

“I’m delighted we are expanding our team to support the successful management of two arena venues in one city. Our ability to do this relies on the strength of Birmingham’s market, with demand from both ticket buyers and promoters at an all-time high. As a team, we strive to exceed the expectations of our arenas’ clientele, so we hope this positive business trend continues throughout 2018 and beyond.”

Birmingham-based NEC Group, whose other venues are the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), International Convention Centre (ICC) and Vox Conference Centre, grew turnover 17.9% and profits 58% in a successful 2016–17.

 


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Phil Mead: 10 things I’ve learnt in 10 years

Phil Mead’s first memorable gig experience was witnessing Bob Dylan play at the then-NEC Arena in Birmingham. Fast forward 36 years, and he’s recently celebrated ten years as MD of arenas for the NEC Group.

Having transformed the business in his time with the group, Mead has overseen two redevelopments, multiple naming rights partners, and has seen new attractions built and hosted countless events, paving the way for NEC Group’s arenas to become premier destinations on touring routes. We caught up with the man himself to discover what he’s learned during a decade at the top…

1. It’s a team effort
The first lesson was learnt well before Mead arrived at the NEC, in his first venue job at a 1,500-seat entertainment and sports centre, where he quickly realised one of the most important components of arena management. “Everyone, from the rigger, the stage builder and the steward to the event manager, the marketer and the box office assistant, are all equally important, and only when working in harmony can great events be delivered. Moreover, those on the front line generally have better ideas to improve the offer than you – so listen!”

2 & 3. When you see a market opportunity, verify it with consumer research – and seize it
Shortly after joining NEC Group, Mead saw an opportunity to transform the venue box office into a national ticket agency predicated on a market entry that took venue box-office customer service levels into the agency business. Market research through consumer focus groups not only validated this premise, but they also came up with the name The Ticket Factory.

“Out of the eight names put forward to the focus groups my preferred choice came seventh! The Ticket Factory was the clear favourite by all the focus groups, so there is lesson three: you may spot the opportunity, but let the consumer tell you how it should be positioned.” The Ticket Factory was launched just nine months after Mead’s arrival at NEC Group.

“You may spot the opportunity, but let the consumer tell you how it should be positioned”

4. Take advantage of new business models
After ticketing, the next big step was to recognise that despite a strong market position, the NEC Arena needed a transformation to enhance the customer experience beyond the show itself.

“Local authority funding of the scale required based on economic or cultural benefit alone was no longer the order of the day as the public purse tightened. Neither was it viable to increase venue rentals for promoters to such an extent that £29 million could be paid back. We therefore turned to a combination of the sponsorship market (as this took a step change after O2’s deal with the Dome in London), plus faith in enhanced revenues from food and beverage and hospitality if the right quality offer was presented.” Both paid off, and in 2009, the LG Arena (now Genting Arena) was born, with every aspect of the venue seriously improved.

The same philosophy was applied to create the Barclaycard Arena where £26m of funding was a viable investment to be paid back from improved profitability primarily from retail catering, hospitality and sponsorship. Mead believes that not only do you have to look towards new business models to raise funding, but also have faith that the quality of offer will drive revenues well beyond previous arena spend per head.

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 74:

NEC Group profits up 58% in 2016–17

NEC Group, the operator of five of the UK’s leading large venues, has posted a strong set of financial results for the 12 months ending 31 March 2017, its second since being sold by Birmingham City Council.

The Birmingham-based company, which also owns ticket agency The Ticket Factory (TTF) and caterer Amadeus, reported revenue of £157.7 million – up £23.9m (17.9%) year on year – and earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £50.4m (including valuation gains of £2.6m on investment properties), an increase of £18.6m (58%) on the previous year.

“This has been an exceptional year, building on the strong maiden results the group posted 12 months ago,” says NEC Group CEO Paul Thandi. “As part of our transformation agenda, we are implementing an exciting and focused strategy which starts with a deep understanding of the needs of our customers and visitors. That understanding is in large part obtained from the insight we draw from data. We invest our resources to address those needs and improve the experience of our customers and visitors, and we can see the benefit of that approach in the significant levels of new business we have secured.

“We are not content to stand still. We will continue to deliver against our proven strategy while broadening our business through a focused leisure strategy to give our visitors more compelling reasons to visit. This includes two visitor attractions to be delivered by Merlin Entertainments at our NEC and city-centre sites in the next 12 months and new long-stay content such as Dinosaurs in the Wild, which we hosted at NEC this summer.

“We are progressing other planned developments on our NEC site within the context of our wider campus masterplan, and we will continue to extend our footprint through winning third-party venue management contracts and by securing new external opportunities for Amadeus.

The initiatives we have recently implemented and those planned … provide us with confidence that our businesses will continue to grow strongly”

“We are continuing to invest in our venues to improve the visitor experience, with a particular focus on digital technology. That investment will supplement our already exceptional capabilities to draw insight through the analysis of customer data.

“We are proud to be a central part of the West Midlands’ visitor economy, and look forward to our growth in scope and activity enhancing further the regional economy and its national and international profile.

“We are at an early stage of our strategic development. The initiatives we have recently implemented and those planned, allied with the profile of contracted forward bookings across the group, provide us with confidence that our businesses will continue to grow strongly.”

NEC Group manages Arena Birmingham (15,800-cap.), Genting Arena (15,700-cap.), the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), the International Convention Centre (ICC) and Vox Conference Centre, all in Birmingham.

The two arenas welcomed more than 1.4m visitors in the last financial year, with event highlights including Adele, Justin Bieber, Drake, Black Sabbath, the Horse of the Year Show, BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Strictly Come Dancing and Cirque du Soleil.

On the expo side, meanwhile, new events included Automechanika, Destination Star Trek and the UK Games Expo, which join existing exhibitions Spring Fair, Crufts, the BBC Good Food Show and gaming festival Insomnia, while the group has also invested in the Bradford Odeon, a new mid-sized venue expected to open in 2017.

 


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Sabbath play last-ever show at Genting Arena

Heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath capped off their 49-year career with a final, hometown show at Genting Arena in Birmingham, UK, on Saturday night.

Their farewell tour, aptly titled The End, saw the band – comprising founder members vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler, with only original drummer Bill Ward opting not to take part – play 81 shows in Europe, Australasia and North and South America, beginning last January. The health of Iommi, who has lymphoma, was cited as the reason for quitting touring, although Osbourne will continue to play as a solo artist.

At the final show, Osbourne bowed out with a simple “Good night, thank you so much” following the last song, ‘Paranoid’.

“For Black Sabbath to perform their final show back in the city where it all began is a very apt end”

The Genting, which welcomed 14,500 fans (among them deputy Labour party leader Tom Watson) to the concert on Saturday night, says it was a “great honour” to be the venue for the Sabs’ final show.

Guy Dunstan, general manager of the NEC Group’s Arenas, said before the show: “This is a monumental evening that will go down in history, and I am very thankful that the Genting Arena has had the opportunity to be a part of it. For Black Sabbath to perform their final show back in the city where it all began is a very apt end to what has been an outstanding career for the band.”

Sabbath are represented in the UK by Rod MacSween of ITB.

 


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