Optus Stadium is the brand new kid on the Australian Stadium block but the management team from VenuesLive team is highly experienced and super keen to impress the Events Industry in September. We caught up with Greg Sleigh – General Manager, Commercial for a sense of the place, the team and what we an expect.
What do you do at Optus Stadium, and what do you enjoy most about your role?
I manage the commercial streams of the WA VenuesLive business, including Optus Stadium’s event procurement and curation, hospitality, memberships, partnerships and Stadium Tours.
What I love most about the event industry is its diversity and uncertainty, and most importantly, I love to take the opportunity to get out and see the joy that events bring to fans. There is nothing better than standing in the middle of the arena with 60,000 fans belting out an Ed Sheeran song and watching that joy on people’s faces. We’re in the business of creating lifelong memories so it’s fantastic when you see that come to life.
What makes Optus Stadium stand out in the industry? What do you pride yourselves on?
Physically, right now Optus Stadium is bright, shiny and new so it certainly stands out internationally. Where we’re fortunate though is it has been built to stand the test of time and its location on the Burswood peninsula will always make it a spectacular place to visit. There will be very few public venues built (ever) that combine the size and grandeur of the Stadium with the space and opportunity within the surrounding precinct and all against the backdrop of the Perth city skyline.
What values does your brand align with and how do you put that into action in the industry?
We have maintained a philosophy of ‘fans first’ from day one. Depending on who you are, that might mean the fact that we appointed a craft beer provider who pours four different beers in public areas, or that every seat in the house is located within a 40m walk of a toilet and food outlet, or that when engaging with our staff, face to face and online, you get a fan friendly engagement.
It’s not only our core brand value but a motto between all of our permanent and casual staff and a focus for us that defines policies, procedures, procurement and any new projects we undertake. We’re here because around 50,000 Western Australians as well as interstate and international visitors attend the venue every week – it’s our job to make sure they all have a fantastic time.
What do you think are the challenges and opportunities facing the events industry?
Attendance is the single biggest issue facing the industry. Events and venues function for the benefit of people who want to go to them and undoubtedly internationally, there’s a growing trend toward staying at home and watching events on TV rather than viewing them live.
Hence the focus for us is on being a venue that creates memories for patrons, their friends and families, so they want to come back event after event. You can’t ensure the right result at any event, so you need to be on top of all elements of the experience that you can control.
Can you share some of your reasons for supporting the Australian Event Awards and Symposium?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have won at the Australian Event Awards in 2013 and my recollection was the diverse nature of celebration – from acknowledgment of the biggest public events in Australia to businesses doing fantastic things on a regional level. You also have businesses that deliver services at private function or conference level or the major event level. The Awards are a true celebration of the magical industry we get to call ‘work’.
What is unique about Optus Stadium?
Over and above the architecture, the location and the amazing fans who frequent the venue.
What’s special at Optus Stadium is what’s special about Perth. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the level 1 public concourse looking out to the arena, in a private suite or in the Sky View Lounge overlooking the city – whatever the size of the crowd you’re in, you’ll have an abundance of space and light.
Tell us something not many people know about Optus Stadium.
A key contributor in the design of the Stadium was the Whadjuk Working Group – representatives of the Mighty Noongar Nation. They ensured that appropriate recognition of the rich Aboriginal history from the land on which the Stadium was built was incorporated, not only from an art viewpoint, but also in the design of the building and the surrounding precinct.
What has been your favourite event in the past year – either to work on or attend?
My favourite week for events this year so far was in February – on the Wednesday we hosted 60,000 fans in 30 degree heat for Eminem at Optus Stadium, and immediately after I jumped on a plane to the UK and watched Leeds United at Elland Road, pretty much in the snow!
What’s the best advice you’ve received working in the events industry?
When it all gets too much on event day, focus on everything you can control in the next thirty minutes. And nail it. When you’ve done that, reset and go again. Break anything into bite size bits and the likelihood is it will all be ok.