Tech has been married with stadiums for a while now and, these days, the fan experience as we know it is being reshaped. In a time when personal entertainment is giving us more reasons to watch a game from home, stadiums are facing an uphill battle for fans’ attention.
Startups are aware of this and keep delivering novel tech. Solutions range from facial recognition for ticketing, AI analyzing crowd emotions in real-time and the ability to pay for a beer using biometric identifiers. By digitalizing the fan journey across every touchpoint, stadiums are actively working to deliver more personalized experiences through tech and bring the fans closer to the team.
To effectively do this, stadiums face several challenges. According to a CB Insights report, the three critical factors tied to a venue’s future are to minimize barriers of adoption of new systems, engage audiences, and delight fans through personalized experiences. Moreover, stadiums have to invest in hardware upgrades and the integration of the many disparate data silos.
Once these challenges are addressed, what’s left is an hyper-connected venue that can provide a 21st-century experience through immersive technology (VR/AR), access to real-time data (i.e. information about the match) or allow fans to order food and beverage from anywhere.
One of the most significant areas of opportunity for stadiums is, in fact, cashless payments, which allow a quick and convenient service so that fans never miss a minute. According to The Oracle Fan Experience report, fans almost unanimously place food and beverage ahead of entertainment, technology and amenities when ranking the elements that are most important to the quality of their fan experience.
Also, when stadiums focus on providing a faster service that leads to shorter queues, they can experience an increase in revenue. In fact, according to the same report by Oracle, when wait times are cut in half, the potential increase in fan spend ranges from 30% to 52%.
The most innovative stadiums in the world are taking note of this. For example, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club has built an underlying network within its new state-of-the-art stadium that manages everything from ticketing, security, electric turnstiles and other innovations such as video screens, LED signage, public Wi-Fi access and mobile point of sale (POS) systems.
In the Netherlands, the Johan Cruijff ArenA has recently called startups to join the Change the Game program to develop new, innovative services for visitors. Some of the finalist solutions include Game On, which allows fans in the stadium and at home to view images of an event from different angles and Bitz, that enables visitors to order, pay and pick-up food and drinks without standing in line.
The Johan Cruijff ArenA and Bitz will be collaborating towards the European Championship 2020 with one goal in mind: to reduce the time that the 55,000 visitors spend in queues. Moreover, they will benefit from richer information regarding food and beverage offerings, the ability to know how crowded the stands are at a certain moment and also receive personalized deals. On the other hand, the ArenA will be able to streamline operations, gain a deeper understanding of their two million annual visitors and, ultimately, provide unique experiences.
What we are seeing is stadiums becoming aware that technology can play an active role in supporting their fans’ passion and loyalty. As they become more connected and data-driven, our need to be entertained will likely be met bydisruptive technologies ready to enhance the way we experience a match.
Matias Puletti, from Argentina, is the CMO and co-founder of Bitz. He is a Growth Marketeer with +7 years of experience in developing marketing strategy and execution of brands within different agencies. Now, with Bitz, the goal is to connect on-the-go consumers with restaurants and venues so that they can order and pick-up at any time without standing in line. So far, the concept has attracted the attention of Startupbootcamp, one of the biggest startup incubators, the popular salad bar SLA for its 12 stores and the Johan Cruijff ArenA, one of the most innovative stadiums in the world.