Computer Merchants Chief Operating Officer Kylie Charrington gives the inside story of big event IT
As the crowds pour into a major stadium looking forward to a spectacular show or a thrilling sporting event, many stop at the concession stand to grab a memento. They may only be in place for a day or two, but those merchandise stands are an important part of the big event experience.
So how do organisers create an entire shopping experience using modern point of sale (POS) technology, only to dismantle it the next day and move on to the next show? It is a precision venture that requires high-level planning skills and fast thinking – clearly this type of work isn’t for the faint-hearted!
Computer Merchants work on anything from concerts to rugby league, rugby union, soccer and even motorsports, with crowds up to 100,000; so, we need to make sure the POS solutions can withstand tremendous transaction rates without skipping a beat.
Just as sports stars and rock legends need to be at the top of their game, so too does our IT event group; From capital cities to remote locations like Bathurst, our team has mastered IT on-the-go.
While an event may last a few hours, the IT process invariably takes longer. The Computer Merchants event team begins preparation, conducting prior testing and commissioning of all necessary POS equipment. To reduce pressure on customers the team provides a complete service that includes set-up of both permanent and temporary shop stalls.
When you buy a tour t-shirt, or a team scarf the POS solution may include a range of devices. These can be both mobile and fixed, including EFTPOS machines, receipt printers and displays, as well as the core network infrastructure such as switches, routers, and of course power.
We complete on-site transactional checks before the crowds arrive, and at times the team may even lend assistance with servers, so we always ensure a complete range of skills on-site. Every minute a POS is unavailable costs big money, so we need make sure everything is ready to go; As soon as we arrive, the clock is ticking.
During the event, we provide full technical support wherever it is needed. This requires us to know the systems we set up back to front – there isn’t a lot of time to fix issues, so this is an environment where every member of the technical crew must have experience and a cool head.
But big event technology isn’t just about mental strength. Technicians also need to be physically fit, as during the event they are constantly moving between locations to check everything is working as it should – they don’t wait for problems to come to them, because delays are too costly.
In fact, where most people aim to cover 10,000 steps in a day, the typical event technician will take 15,000 steps during set-up alone, and by the end of their day a team-member’s steps are likely to range between 30,000 and 60,000!
Considering the mental and physical toll, it’s no surprise that part of what makes the team so well suited to major events is the right attitude. Nobody, from admin staff to senior engineers, limit themselves to just IT assistance – Our people become a part of the larger merchandising team, even if that means running stock between tents, running extra power, or setting up booths and marquees, we’re ready to jump into action – This job certainly isn’t for bystanders.
The hours may be long – sometimes from 7 am to 2 am on consecutive days for a big concert series – but the pay-offs are amazing. When the crowd is watching the show, we often get to see the action up-close as well; and somehow, the tiredness recedes when you’re watching world-famous superstars belt out their greatest hits, or international athletes score winning goals; and knowing, no matter what happens on the field, you’re part of a winning team.
Need advice about pop-up IT for an event you’re planning & want to be part of the winning team? Give our friendly team a call for a no-obligation chat.