Posted by Thierry Victor

Event venues: How to increase revenue and visitor comfort

Last week, for the first time in my life, I attended a ballet performance in a lovely theatre in central London. After 45 minutes of complex modern dance and classical music, the lights turned on and a 15 minute break was announced.

I was really impressed by the show and, after discussing the complexity of the meaning of the body language, I suggested to my partner to take advantage of the break to enjoy the second part with a nice drink.

– Great idea! In that case I will go quickly to the bathroom in the meantime.

Ok, so first you need to leave your seat, being sorry to disturb all the spectators seated next to you, trying not to step on a bag or a massive winter jacket (did they not know that the cloakroom was free?!) and finally arriving in the concourse area.

Directly visible, the bar was close to the doors, a lot of staff, no one queuing – I later learned that they increased the number of staff in order to serve more spectators during the 15 minute break. No one was at the bar and looking at my watch I still had a few minutes before the end of the break. So I decided to go to the toilet first because honestly how can you go to the toilet with two cocktails in your hands?

For people who are not familiar with the environment (like me) the theatre was like a labyrinth, the bar was empty and directly visible whereas there was no obvious indication of the direction to the toilets.

Going up then down within the narrow stairs of the building, I was definitely not the only one a bit lost. As you can imagine in a classical ballet audience, people were not that young and not as speedy as in a tube station!

Overtaking some slower (but elegant!) gentlemen in the stairs (please people, keep to your right!) I finally managed to find a long queue waiting in front of the toilet! I thought that this kind of queue was specific to the female environment – how wrong I was! There is only one 15 minute break for the 2 and a half hour ballet so if you may want to go to the toilet I suggest you run as soon as the break is announced!

After queuing for a while in the toilets I came back to the bar where a few people were ordering a drink. Perfect, it won’t take too long to order something.

But as I was finally approaching the bar, ready to order an exotic juice with a warm touch of alcohol, a staff member appeared telling us that the bar was now closed and that we must return to our seats.

Walking back between the seats, between polite people who try to stand up for you and others who just slightly move their legs, I finally get back to my seat. My partner arrived just after me.

– There are not enough toilets for everyone! She said

What is certain is that everyone else understood the importance of running directly to the toilet at the break.

Then the space turned dark and the violins started to play.

– I saw that no one was queuing at the bar, can I have my cocktail please? my partner was asking…

Sound familiar?

By assessing, modelling and predicting how people interact and move we help designers and operators get the most from their venues at every stage of the design process.

Check out our interactive dashboard simulating a 15 minute break. The SmartMove agent-based simulation highlights the relationship between the toilet provision and the bar revenue.

This platform, developed by our Smart Space team at BuroHappold, is readily extendable to explore and optimise the impact of layout, signage and operational management on visitor experience and potential revenue generation.