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Boom Boom Boomlets

By Guy Hedderwick posted 01-04-2018 21:42


“The night is dark and full of terrors”, or so I learned watching Game of Thrones. It is true, venues are overwhelmed with new security issues, patron safety is a topic at every conference and ‘security’ is the first word on everyone’s lips. We underwent a huge transformation with the Millennial (Gen-Y) and their need for an experience over and above ‘just’ an event, by providing a variety of catering choices and creating different gathering areas to suit diverse patrons in our venues and at our events. This disruption took venues from places where events took place to an experience-based business where our focus was on meeting the needs of the fan or customer rather than just putting on an event. 

The Millennial are now the largest workforce and old Baby Boomers like me have had to change the way we operate, how we manage and how we think to fit in with well-educated driven young men and women who are creative thinkers and who value teams and the collective over the individual. They are now the decision makers and networking beats the prestige of being able to afford a suite.

A dark and way scarier force is building and as venues we need to be nimble if we want to continue to fill our venues with fans and customers. The rise of Gen Z or the Boomlet is going to take us by storm and we are going to need to plan and adapt now to meet their needs. Software and technology is going to disrupt like never before.

Our world is about to change and change at a rate which is exponential. Here is South Australia we have been trialing driver-less vehicles and they will start to appear on our streets. Can you imagine a world where our children won’t get a drivers license, perhaps won’t own a car. The MD of Daimler Benz says, just like Uber who owns no taxi’s, the future is a world with no car owners. Instead of owning cars we will simply call them when we need one, meaning we will need 90% less vehicles, less car parking and perhaps large car parks outside stadiums which are used for tailgating will now become green space, albeit used for a similar purpose. We will go from 1.2 million deaths and an accident every 60,000 miles (100,000 km) to one every 10 million. The predication is that insurance will be X100 times cheaper. We need to be thinking how this affects both our space and our current commercial properties we sell. We are not here to talk about the motor industry and the affects it has on our business but it’s an example of the changes coming. If we don’t have to drive our cars and there will be less cars on the road, then we can live further away and our venues may not need to be located in urban spaces, whereas now location is always so important for access. Charging stations for electric vehicles will be a consideration rather than the eco-friendly venue the Millennial demanded.

Gen-Z is the ‘no childhood’ generation, and in the US, 49% of births were Hispanic. Both these trends will change the US culture and behavior. It’s an exciting time where 50% of Bloomlets will be University educated, extremely technology literate and grown up before their time. Toy companies are under pressure. Barbie’s target market in the 1990 was children aged 10; by the year 2000 it had dropped to age 3. Babies now playing on screens and other electronic devices. The Gen-Z is already a savvy consumer who is over saturated with brands. How will this affect the way we advertise and commercialize in venues?

61% of this generation has a TV in their room, they have Video games, ultra-fast internet and a smart phone. They live in a world where information is immediately available and Google is the first call for advice before parents.

I overheard an amazing conversation between Boomlets and a Pro-Basketball coach selling them on the game. The questions asked were really quite interesting.

“Can we vote on who you sub in and out?”

“Why did you sub player X? He is very good looking and funny and really good for the game”

“I saw this amazing play on YouTube, why don’t you use it or would you like me to show you?”

“I don’t know if I will come again the venue didn’t have any bubble tea.”

“Were there any celebrates here today?”

Research shows that 65% of the Boomlets go to events because they want to be seen at the event. Being seen at the event was the number one reason they came.

We have tinkered with getting people involved in the experience with fantasy leagues, tweets to the screens etc., but imagine catering to a brand-saturated group who require Bubble tea this week, Ice Coffee next and the latest energy drink the week after? A group who was raised on reality TV want to vote and be part of the change, where an emotional connection with the team is more important than the game. Will we be better off getting eyeballs if the players have a good and/or tragic backstory? Where players and entertainment providers have to spill the beans on their pasts in order to make the event compelling, because we have created a generation who need their happy chemicals triggered before they engage?

Gen-Z are a generation who want not only instant content but the ability to take that content and use it for themselves and publish it where and when they want. How does this effect our huge TV deals? In Johnathan Livingston Seagull they say “If you love something set it free, if it comes back it loves you and if it doesn’t it never did” This is a generation who will decide how the brand unfolds not the team or the venue or the owner and that is scary. Likewise, in our venues we are going to have to be nimble. We are going to become technology hubs delivering content to consumers. The secret is, we deliver content and right now, content is still King.

The night is dark and full of terrors but the future is going to be equally amazing.


  1. Happy Chemicals
  • Endorphins- the chemical release during exercise which makes us feel good.
  • Dopamine- the chemical released when we reach mini milestones which keeps us going, unfortunately also the addictive chemical which is triggered when we gamble, get likes on Facebook, very addictive.
  • Serotonin- the happiness or emotion we feel when one sees someone do something for someone else- the one mentioned in the article (creates connection)
  • Oxytocin – the love chemical.


Guy Hedderwick

Executive Director Adelaide 36ers and Adelaide Lightning basketball and CEO Titanium Security Arena.