Name: Isabel Joris
Job Title: Tour Operations Manager
Company: Wembley Stadium Tours
Member Since: 2019
At Wembley we’re seeing that interactivity is a key trend and one that we are constantly looking to enhance, We’re keen that a visit to Wembley is so much more than a walk around an empty stadium and so much of the work we’re doing within the tour aims to bring the venue and the stories of Wembley to life using many interactive elements along the tour route
Tell us a bit about your role and how it supports the business?
The award-winning Wembley Stadium Tours lets guests explore behind-the-scenes of the UK’s largest sports and entertainment venue – taking visitors deep into the heart of the stadium, to those areas usually reserved for the biggest names in sport and music. As Tour Operations Manager my role is primarily responsible for ensuring that a best in class end to end visitor experience is delivered at all times – in keeping with a visit to one of the world’s most iconic venues. Working with trade partners, overseeing an external call centre and liaising with internal stakeholders are just some of the additional aspects of the role as well as managing a team of Tour Hosts who deliver the tours and bring an additional dimension to the experience. Their tales from the past, fun facts and anecdotes really bring the Stadium to life and help to really personalise a visit to Wembley. I am proud to manage such a knowledgeable team who are so loyal and truly passionate about their place of work.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
That every problem has a solution. We are all often placed in a situation where the answer doesn’t seem very clear at first but when taking a step back or discussing it with others, there is always an answer or a solution.
What are the emerging trends within your sector?
Wembley Stadium Tours straddles a few sectors; sports and live entertainment as well as being a popular visitor attraction in its own right. At Wembley we’re seeing that interactivity is a key trend and one that we are constantly looking to enhance. We’re keen that a visit to Wembley is so much more than a walk around an empty stadium and so much of the work we’re doing within the tour aims to bring the venue and the stories of Wembley to life using many interactive elements along the tour route.
It’s likely that technology will play an even greater role within our operation. We’re implementing new ways to use interactive guides for visitors to use including downloading an app onto their own smartphones. We’re also looking at how we utilise more technology within the tour as well as improving the bookings and the arrival processes in order to make it all more automated and engaging for customers.
On the sports side of the business, diversity remains a key focus for us. As the growth of women’s football continues to evolve, we’re incredibly proud of the work the FA and other sports bodies are doing to promote equality and diversity. Within the tour, we’re looking to do more to showcase these stories and will be looking to dedicate more space to and display more memorabilia from England’s Lionesses which will hopefully inspire girls and young women who come to the tour that football truly is for everyone. We’re also starting to feature more artefacts from the Women’s FA Cup and much more.
Another key sports trend we’re keeping our eye on is e-sports. Pre-Covid we were seeing whole arenas being packed out to watch e-sports competitions so it’s going to be interesting to see how this plays a role in Wembley’s future and how we might start to incorporate the rise of e-sports into the Tour. Watch this space.
What is coming up for your company in the next 12/18 months?
Our main priority focus is to ensure that we re-open safely and securely in line with Government guidelines. We have yet to re-open following our closure last March but rather than repeatedly opening and then being forced to close, we chose a more cautious approach of taking a step back and waiting whilst prioritising Wembley’s primary role as an event venue as well as the safety of the teams, staff and our visitors above anything else. As we start to look to re-open we’ll be focusing on rebuilding consumer confidence, ensuring that the public has trust in us and our operation to keep them safe. We’ll be implementing a number of measures to do this; some go without saying such as hand sanitiser stations, cashless payments etc, the others are a little more technical and will include our new interactive guide app.
For tour operators, we’re trying to make the booking process as easy as possible so as we re-launch we’ll also be launching our tour operator booking portal, enabling BETA members to check availability and make bookings quickly and simply, speeding up quoting and ensuring that your clients get the tour they want. In the medium term, we’re also excited about the launch of our educational workshops covering a range of topics from sports to history and business. These workshops will also be open for tour operators to book – but only when the time is right.
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our industry, what is the one thing that you have learnt personally or professionally during this time?
It’s difficult to limit this to just one answer as I’ve learned a lot. Covid-19 has definitely taught me to be more resilient and more flexible in work practises. It’s also given me an opportunity to explore more of the organisation that makes up Wembley and the FA, where I’ve learned things that I can take forward with me. Covid-19 has also taught me to appreciate the values and importance of effective communication even more than I already did. Things are changing so quickly that it feels like we’re constantly having to work with stakeholders as we face new challenges and solve new problems to ensure that the Tour is in the best, most attractive and safest possible shape for visitors when we eventually reopen.
Find out more about BETA member Wembley Stadium Tours here