Technology for 21st-Century, Experience-Driven Sports Fan Engagement
Sensors in their jerseys, shoes, and helmets. Sensors in the turf, the goal box, race car, and golf club. Athletes of the future will be tracked at every moment so we can know how fast and focused they are, and when they’re “in the zone.” The sports experience has become a 21st-Century medley of sights, smells, and experiences. Undoubtedly, technology is shaping the modern fan experience. We just have to make sure it’s for the better.
Today’s fans don’t want to just watch an event—they want to be at the center of it. In other words, they want to “be the experience.” This starts with a seamless approach to fan, customer, and team engagement that can manifest in many ways from on-site, touch-activated, multi-sensory, virtual experiences to off-site communities.
The goal is to enhance the fan experience, not distract from it. This can be achieved by creating experience-driven touch points. Fan engagement is a wake-to-sleep business and requires better, and smarter, mobile, social, and digital-led environments to keep fans coming back to the stadium and being full-fledged members of the sports/team community.
It’s more than just ordering food to your seat or buying merchandise via a mobile app. That’s definitely important, but fans are thirsty for more. More content, more speed, more data, more info, more social, more fantasy, more experiences. The optimal fan experience includes a tailored mix of digital and physical experiences that fans can explore and self-design on-site, off-site, on game days, and on days in between. But to advance and future-proof these experiences for teams and stadium operators, they need to be tied to the latest and greatest technology.
Customer Experiences that Get You to and Through the Gate
The first and most critical part of any fan journey starts with the ticketing experience. Whether you are a season ticket holder or a casual fan, it all begins with your ticket buying experience. Did you get what you wanted? Was it what you expected? Was it easy to use? Were your tickets useful?
Useful? Yes, tickets are useful. The 2016/2017 season saw an average per game attendance of 69,487 for the NFL, 30,163 for MLB, 21,692 for MLS, 17,884 for NBA, and 17,500 for NHL for American professional sporting leagues. That’s a lot of foot traffic.
As more teams come online with digital tickets, they’ll be able to capitalize on data to improve entry/exit strategies. The whole fan/ticket/customer experience gets better with online, in-app, mobile ticketing management capabilities. And what’s the easiest way to sell more tickets? Reduce the barrier to entry so fans can easily make one-click purchases directly from their phone. This consumerism shift towards mobile devices makes it easier for teams to influence impulse sales through personalized messages, geo-targeted marketing, instant offers, and loyalty rewards.
Customer experience is also impacted by the human connection experienced when purchasing tickets and merchandise. Contact centers that work with and respond to the user expectations of fans at any given moment provide an enhanced and optimized experience. The right contact center will help sell out stadiums.
Communications that Come Full Circle
In a world of applications, real-time communication structures. Technology impacts more than just the fans. It makes players, coaches, and every-size teams all a part of the fan experience. Technology is about connecting your entire organization across one platform, creating a centralized hub for collaborating and sharing information, instantly. Network mobility and simplicity takes connected experiences to a new level.
With advanced Team Engagement technology that enables communications across voice, video, multimedia, messaging, and conferencing, smart stadiums can better allocate operations and staff through more proactive, strategic initiatives. From the suites to the concessions stands, effectively deploy the right people, to the right place, at the right time.
Human asset management in sports is a hot topic right now. Teams spend millions of dollars on sports players and race car drivers. Managing their health performance via an application lets teams assemble medical experts faster, save money, and operate more efficiently. Communication-enable applications to quickly bring teams and health experts together via video and voice so you can assess injuries and create recovery plans faster.
Intelligent Systems that Power and Automate Operations
The game day experience—communications, ticketing, merchandising, socializing—needs a robust grid to run on. At Super Bowl LI, fans used over 11.8 TB of data during the game. And with the majority of stadiums built prior to 2001, when the first tech bubble popped, it’s logical to assume there are several facilities that aren’t equipped to handle this sort of bandwidth.
Even as recently as two years ago it was a struggle to get a signal inside some venues. It’s now imperative that today’s stadiums be upgraded or retrofitted with wireless solutions that can guarantee uninterrupted game day experiences.
But the need for technology infrastructures goes beyond connectivity. Technology has to be powerful, and it has to be smart. Stadium staff needs to be able to optimize workflows. Coaches need to make better decisions based on player and field conditions. Security needs to react, predict, and respond dynamically across the environment. Vendors and sponsors need to enhance and deliver personalized offers across the stadium.
These touch points and experiences essentially create data that can be sent back to teams, stadiums, and operators to further impact the game day experience. It’s team analytics. It’s stadium analytics. It’s fanalytics! It’s all the smart stuff that tech-savvy stadiums need.
Touch Points that Are Experience Driven
Smart stadiums, race tracks and large public venues have to connect fans across the venue and across the globe with state-of-the-art experiences that are paving the way for the Stadium of Things. It’s about producing, sharing, and leveraging information from connected devices and experiences in context. About wearable tech, seat sensors, virtual reality displays, crowd-tracking tools, and smart equipment—bats, balls, gadgets, and gizmos a plenty.
The future of sports is connected fans, connected stadiums, connected teams, connected data. No matter the size of your league, venue, or team, your fan base is everything. And it demands the best technology to place athletes, the team, and fans at the center of the experience.