The NEC Group has joined forces with Barclaycard in a naming deal that its boss believes will help propel the business onto an international stage.
The entertainment and conferencing company has signed a five-year deal with Barclaycard that will see the National Indoor Arena in the centre of Birmingham renamed the NIA, A Barclaycard Unwind Experience following a £20 million refurbishment.
As well as renaming the arena, the partnership will also see Barclaycard become official payment partner to the NEC’s ticketing operation, theticketfactory.com and payment acceptance innovations using contactless technology.
Paul Thandi, chief executive of the NEC Group, believes the deal not only enhances his organisation through association, but it will also have a major impact on its customers.
“It’s a global brand that believes in technology to enhance the customer experience by simplifying it,” he said.
“The deal is with the NIA and also with theticketfactory.com which is now the second largest ticketing business in the UK behind Ticketmaster which recently said that we are now their main competitor. What this does is absolutely push the ticketing business internationally.”
The latest deal follows the decision to sell the naming rights for the LG Arena which Mr Thandi said had been “fruitful for them and us” and had seen the introduction of 3D technology at the LG Arena and added that LG would soon be introducing further innovations for visitors to the complex using mobile technology.
The Barclaycard deal was potentially even more fundamental to the overall customer experience at the arena.
“It is about delivering a much better experience for our customers for the entire time they are with us,” said Mr Thandi.
“There are millions of people who have contactless technology through their payment cards and mobile phones so customers can spend on products and services in the arena as well as on things like VIP access and events.
“This is about introducing technology to simplify the experience for our customers so they can enjoy their journey with us.”
The NEC Group is currently working with architects Broadway Malyan on a major internal and external overhaul of the facility which will cost £20.4 million over the next two years, with the venue remaining open throughout. The end result should be an arena to rival anything currently out there, said Mr Thandi.
“This is going to help us to become the beating heart of the city,” he said. “The new arena will be over four floors with 540 more seats and an increased standing capacity of 800 with significantly more bars and restaurants and top class hospitality so that we have an arena for the 21st century in partnership with a 21st century brand.”
Dan Mathieson, head of experiential marketing and partnerships at Barclaycard, added: “Striking this deal gives Barclaycard a chance to showcase innovation in payment at some of the UK’s hottest entertainment events and venues.
“The eventual rollout of contactless technology across the NEC Group, means customers will be able to pay quickly and easily for shows they want to see, using their contactless cards or contactless-enabled mobile phones, even if they’re on the go.”