Tag Archives: public spaces

Why Public Bodies Should Work Alongside Private Companies

8 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Technology

When we think about private companies taking government funding, images of corporate greed and unaccounted for money spring to mind. Government funded bodies, on the other hand, are viewed as public knights that battle heroically against their limited budgets. They scrape by because their crusade is viable: but their vision is sometimes lacking. Entrepreneurs live and die by the success of their ideas. If their business fails, they lose their job, their mortgage, and their dreams. Public bodies must relinquish their need to control every minute step, and learn to delegate niche tasks to people with in-depth knowledge of the subject. If they can ride atop the expertise and creativity of private companies, they are much more likely to win the battle.


Tech is always best developed by hungry entrepreneurs; people who make substantial financial, personal, and, possibly, marital sacrifices to get their business off the ground. Their business is their baby. They will nurture it, stay up all night for it, and do everything in their power to help it grow. Their passion allows them to develop a strong niche. They may spend years perfecting their specialism. They will not claim to know everything, but when it comes to the exactitude of their niche: they are a walking encyclopedia.

Innovation is key to progress

Tech defines our era and is continually evolving. It solves problems every day (and sometimes it creates new problems). There is a constant need to discover better, faster, smarter ways of working. What is relevant today may not be tomorrow, so it is crucial that a company innovates to avoid stagnation. Take Richard Branson, who founded Virgin Records. If he had been comfortable with his original business, he would be virtually bankrupt (like HMV) by the introduction of CDs, mp3s, and now Spotify. Instead, he has transcended genre; progressing to transport, to condoms, to cola, to trains, to media, to gyms, and now to space. Some of these ventures have been more successful than others, but he has undoubtedly stayed relevant and rich.

Room for creativity

Government bodies are shackled by regulations and restrictions, meaning that ideas that are “out there” remain “out there.” Branson claims successful companies “start small and think big.” A start-up has nothing to lose but hopes and dreams. With no rule book and no governing body to adhere to, entrepreneurs are free to experiment. In fact, it is their individuality and creative thinking that makes their ideas viable and successful.

Targets are ambitious

When public bodies receive a sum of money, they frequently see this as a prompt to spend the entire amount. The government monitors their spending, flagging any move that seems too radical. The result is that money is invested into tried and tested routes that will provide safe results. Private companies usually spend excess profit on new developments, with success triggering further success. Private companies give their employees ambitious targets, keeping them engaged and enthusiastic. When spending your own money on your business, you make damn sure that you are maximising profits.

Calculated risks

PayPal co-founder said to a humble tech entrepreneur: ‘In a world that’s changing so quickly, the biggest risk you can take is not taking any risk.’ That entrepreneur went on to create Facebook. Businesses take risks every day: some of them pay off, and some of them set them back, but it is the nature of survival and growth. For public bodies, outsourcing may seem like a big gamble (as funding could be pulled if a strategy fails). Nonetheless, if a company is expert in their field and appears to have the solution to a problem, is it really such a daunting risk? If you discovered a tumour in your leg, would you try to remove it yourself? In our opinion, choosing to outsource is the less risky option.

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How to Generate Revenue from Parks and Public Spaces

23 May 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Operations

Free for the public to use, parks are by no means cheap to run. Grass needs to be cut, pavements swept, and all facilities should be maintained and put through rigorous safety checks. Local councils fund the bulk of a park’s running costs but, with over-stretched government budgets, sometimes this just isn’t enough. We’ve come up with a few ideas to help you run a profitable park.

Sponsorship of space

Memorial benches and tree headstones are favourites amongst the dead community, but the living also have a lot to give to parks. Whilst no one wants to spoil green fields with advertisements, there are plenty of sponsorship opportunities to take advantage of. Sports facilities, in particular, are lucrative spots. Tennis nets and goal posts can advertise sportswear brands or energy drinks. A skatepark can feature graffiti style advertising. Keep sponsorship in line with the ethos of the park; promotional content should not detract from the vista of the space. Consider naming your park after a local business or corporation, as part of a sponsorship deal. A sponsorship title is a big decision, as, admittedly, it lacks a personal feel, but it prove to be of substantial financial benefit to your park.

Maximise facility rental

Nowadays, people don’t bother with visiting a venue in person to book; everything is online. If you have facilities that are underused, you need to reevaluate your booking system. OpenPlay provides bespoke booking systems specifically geared towards sports venues and activities. Stagger your price points for prime and non-prime time slots, to maximise usage potential. Don’t just rent to private individuals, but encourage coaches to hire out the space for coaching and activities.


Introduce photography permits for media outlets or wedding and lifestyle shoots. Anyone wanting to host a special event at your park, such as a sporting event or even a party, should request a permit. Apart from the added fees, these will generate, it helps you to keep track of any significant gatherings set to occur on your grounds.

Licensing from fitness instructors

Parks are perfect spots for personal trainers, who would otherwise have to pay premium prices for indoor facilities. Just because you’re a public space doesn’t mean that businesses should take advantage. You can also ensure that fitness operators at your park, hold appropriate qualifications and are fully insured and hold liability. The Royal Parks charge between £350 and £1100 plus 6% commision for fitness licences. This is a key step to take if you want a profitable park.


Host sporting events that encourage families down to the park. Inflatable obstacle courses, movie nights, a jazz band and picnic event- the opportunities are endless. Have your park ranger give nature lessons to children, where they can plant a flower.


A particular hub on the weekend, cafes can be a lifesaver for early rising parents freezing on the sidelines of a football pitch. You only need a small stall or hut to provide coffees, teas and ice-creams. Drinks and snacks go down a treat and have a huge markup.

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Burgess Park: Uniting a City Park

17 May 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System

Burgess Park is on a mission to become a highly connected, community inner city park. It is already a vibrant space, but busy roads cut through its disjointed facilities. The sports centre is in high demand; many of the facilities are bursting at the seams, running at 92% capacity during peak times. Phases One and Two have been completed and much welcomed by the community. Phase Three sees the revamp of the park’s west side and sports centre. Once complete, this section will match the prestige and functionality of the rest of the park.

Burgess Park aims to “future proof” the sports hub, helping it to meet the demands of its expanding sports clubs. The refurbishments will deliver greater flexibility and capacity for these activities. Two new all-weather 3G pitches will be suitable for club level football and rugby, as well as catering to lacrosse and other sports. The Plaza space generates opportunity for social engagement and healthy interaction.

Fujitsu is sponsoring this Burgess Park revolution. The IT company are ensuring that the city park uses the latest technology and are pushing the current facilities to “work harder” and work smarter. All seven clubs within the park will offer online bookings and memberships powered by OpenPlay. With many of the coaches and organisers working voluntarily, it is essential that they do not waste time punching numbers and filing paper. Online bookings free up their time to engage participants and actively contribute to the ethos of the park.

HighRise is a new feature that we, at OpenPlay, have developed specially for Burgess Park. The first of its kind, this model could be rolled out to all chain facilities and government councils. HighRise tracks anonymous data, helping venues to understand the demographics of their clientele. HighRise’s data analysis is a valuable tool for marketing to potential customers, but also to see what proportion of the population is absent from the park and what should be done to entice them in. OpenPlay HighRise offers daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly reports for each specific club. As this is a united and inclusive park, there is potential for the park’s managing directors to view the anonymous data of all of the clubs separately or combined. They can compare and contrast: see what works and what wastes resources. This knowledge will improve their services and increase participation.

This project creates a vibrant community for park users and a comprehensive data hub for park directors. It is an exciting venture that could pave the way for a more inclusive, business savvy approach to sports participation.

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