How to Create a Modern Stadium Fan Experience with a Digital Identity
The sports fan experience—the way we consume and immerse ourselves in sports on site, at home, in a pub, pre-season, live, or in retrospect—is interwoven with digital tech. Sports fans are focused and engaged, with instant mobile access to info and entertainment. They crave integrated experiences that reach beyond the walls of the stadium.
So it’s the responsibility of stadium operators, club owners, and tech partners to discover how to use innovative technology to create unique, immersive, automated, smart, social, and personalized experiences. Experiences that will bring fans to the stadium—online and in person.
It’s no secret that venues have struggled in recent years to fill seats. They not only compete with other venues, they compete with couches and recliners. Live streaming, virtual reality, fan caves, theater surround sound, multi-device accessibility, food delivery—it’s all available at home. And it all competes with the in-stadium experience. To fill a stadium now, you must push beyond to re-make attending an arena event into an experience in and of itself.
Start by thinking who your fans are—what are their personas? What do you want to represent when it comes to the fan experience you’re crafting? What can you do to shape your in-stadium, on-site experience so it is enticing to your fans?
Are You an Early Adopter of Tech or a Laggard?
The most promising—and most disruptive—thing we see across the industry is how brands are embracing and adopting modern tech trends. A variety of early adopters have rolled out impressive technologies and platforms. Their goals are to boost fan and customer experiences, optimize event performance and activities, and generate revenue—especially via uncharted channels. Early adoption matters when building the fan experience of today. Those on the frontline of tech have an advantage over the competition—they will collect crucial insights that can be used to further improve venues, teams, tools, and offerings.
But when we look at the some 500+ Pro Sports stadiums operating worldwide, there is vast room for improvement. Some venues are upgrading systems—a good phase 1—but globally a lot of stadiums are already in phase 2 or 3 of their digital transformations. So, to survive, it’s important to know how to move fast. On average, laggards make up about 16% percent of brand and customer groups. They are usually the last to adopt an innovation, sometimes much too late. Where do you fit right now? Innovator, early adopter, early majority, late majority … or laggard.
The Avaya Experience
Avaya Stadium, home to the San Jose Earthquakes, is the first cloud-enabled stadium in Major League Soccer. Avaya’s technology and solutions power Avaya Stadium through engaging experiences with the Avaya Stadium Mobile App, Fan Engagement Wall, and Customer and Team Engagement platforms. We’re constantly learning about our fans so that we can continue refining our in-stadium experience.
Most companies see themselves as a business, with their core mission to generate solid and reliable revenue. We, however, see ourselves as a community. Our community includes our team, our venue and stadium, our fans, employees, and anything else directly involved with our events. We believe that we—and our venue—must serve the community as a whole, instead of just a single group.
A Community Needs a Digital Identity
For innovative and modern technologies to have a significant impact, you need to see—and serve—a 360-degree view of all your event components. You need a digital, active, and engaging identity for your brand to better serve the community of your fans, team, partners, vendors, and yes, even investors.
Here are a few emerging trends that could help boost your digital identity:
- Analytics: The beauty of big data, data aggregation, and analytics systems is that they can be used to collect endless amounts of usable data. This can help you make actionable decisions, improve customer and fan experiences, and boost revenue. Modern stadium operators have systems in place to track trends and patterns related to fan transactions, ingress and egress, and general behaviors. This allows them to produce optimized game day decisions as to what’s available and how the entire venue is managed.
Avaya’s Customer Engagement platform empowers operators to turn data into actionable insights across stadium touchpoints like beaconing, ticketing, contact center, social media, fan engagement wall, mobile apps, merchandising, Wi-Fi and more. Leagues use data from wearables, sensors, etc. to improve team performance. With big data analysis, we can improve the on-site fan experience to entice fans to come often, buy more, and stay longer.
- Integrated Services: With digitization comes the concept of automating certain tasks, and when these services talk together and work within a single in-app experience it provides better stadium interoperability. Stadium operators can leverage integrated services by partnering with already popular services. With a dedicated mobile app, fans have everything in one place—the app is a one-stop shop for multiple systems, services, and other applications.
With people spending close to four hours per day on their phones (90% in-app), it’s essential to make those interactions contextual and relevant to the sports fan and their game day experiences. Services can include indoor mapping, mobile purchases, ticket management, venue reservations, merchandise shopping, in-seat delivery, social media, player stats, real-time game updates, video chat, queue times, exclusive content, and much more. And, immersive extensions can integrate with other services like PayPal, Lyft, Uber, Yelp, and Open Table. This is fulfillment at its best.
- Bots: Bots go hand-in-hand with integrated services and mobile apps. They are an excellent way to provide 24/7 support. Customers can ask “where can I buy a hot dog” or “what beer is available in this stadium” and the bot can return accurate, instant answers. For stadium operators, this minimizes the need to constantly provide hardscaped details or information about changing vendors, locations, and service offerings. This information can be updated on the fly within a mobile app and allows the bot to do the talking for you.
Avaya was one of the first to market with bot technology for stadiums. We launched our Avaya Stadium mobile app in 2015—we started using bot technology to serve up stadium facts in the app. As we continue to innovate, we’re finding more potential in bots when we combine them with AI and big data.
- Artificial Intelligence: AI can be deployed in many ways. Think of how you interact with platforms like Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant. The queries are quick, responses are fast, and the entire process is all about convenience. In a hyper-busy and fast environment like a sports stadium, AI would be extremely beneficial for improving customer experiences. It could work alongside a chat bot to provide advice, prices, location information, etc.
Modern stadiums are looking to use bots with AI to geo-target offers for more intelligent, personalized opportunities. Based on previous interactions and customer intelligence, bots can begin offering up services based on past behavior. For example, when you enter the stadium, the bot can send you a custom alert letting you know where your favorite beverage is available, info about special offers, and suggested alternatives.
Keep Your Fans at the Forefront
With a little help from technology, stadiums can engage with fans based on who they are, where they are, what they’re doing, and how long they’ve been doing it, delivering personalized mobile experiences based on user location and behavior. Create an immersive experience for fans—whether they’re in your venue or away. Connect them to your team and events all year long.