July 20th, 2024

Close-up on Co-op Place: Working with synergy

By Trampas Brown on January 16, 2024.

Food and beverage manager Adam Koch works at last year's Night at the Museum at the Esplanade, helping the kids create their custom snack trays for the event.--PHOTO BY Randy Feere

The term “synergy,” as defined by the Oxford dictionary, denotes the interaction or collaboration of two or more entities to generate a combined effect greater than the sum of their individual impacts.

Since taking over the operations of Co-op Place, we have witnessed a tangible manifestation of synergy. In response to the uncertainties prevailing globally in mid-2020, the City assumed control of Co-op Place from a third party during the pandemic. This strategic move allowed us to scale our operations and manage costs efficiently across Co-op Place and the Esplanade during a highly uncertain period.

Fast forward three years, and the success of this operation is evident. Operationally, we have optimized resource allocation not only across various ice surfaces in the city but also across other venues. Centralizing ice rentals through a single point has not only doubled public ice rentals at the facility but has also enhanced operational efficiency. Staff and ice plant operators can seamlessly move between facilities, such as the Kinplex and Co-op Place, based on the needs of each venue.

The incorporation of a full food and beverage department has broadened our offerings at the Esplanade, enabling us to host popular events like “Dining in the Dark,” which sold out within seven minutes during its second iteration this year. This addition also empowers us to leverage collective buying power, ensuring competitive pricing amid the backdrop of rising food costs. The ability to maintain a larger pool of casual staff ensures an ample supply of concession workers and bartenders.

A significant benefit has emerged in the realm of ticketing as well. Patrons can now utilize a unified ticketing platform for events at both the Esplanade and Co-op Place, including Medicine Hat Tigers games. Our ticketing platform has expanded its scope, providing a sales outlet for events and experiences offered by Tourism Medicine Hat and local schools. We used this same platform, Tixx.ca, to ticket the NYE Fest at the Big Marble Go Centre. This expansion has tripled our ticketing volume since 2019, streamlining the experience for patrons and enhancing efficiency.

Lastly, the vital role played by volunteers cannot be overstated. Volunteers now have the flexibility to contribute to a diverse range of events and experiences, from scanning tickets or ushering at Tigers games to conducting research in our archives or assisting school groups in our education spaces.

This connection between an ice arena and an arts center, though unconventional at first glance, aligns with a common model observed across North America. It underscores the potential for increased efficiency, heightened guest satisfaction, and, indeed, synergy!

Trampas Brown is the manager of guest experience and operations for Co-op Place

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