As football fans look forward to this year’s Super Bowl in Los Angeles, it’s a timely opportunity to consider the fan experience of being in a stadium. That experience was stripped back for a while with COVID, but in the U.S. sport leagues are back to full throttle.
In particular, let’s consider what we should expect a stadium experience to be. While not many of us can snag tickets to the Super Bowl, most sport or concert lovers in and around urban centres have the option of catching games or shows live – or watching them from the comfort of their couch.
Stadiums have been around for a long time. But Smart stadiums have not. Only through modern technology can we reshape expectations around what it’s like to attend live events. Not every game is the Super Bowl – so how might a Smart stadium compel more people to buy tickets?
Smart stadiums can house many things, one being location technology that improves how visitors navigate the space, avoid lineups, and get what they want more easily. Using WiFi signals to capture data on density and flow of people through spaces, stadium owners can use new insights to improve that experience – and boost revenue in the process.
Think if stadium owners could:
- Understand a fan’s entire journey from entry to exit
- Identify and mitigate where traffic bottlenecks occur
- Strategize how to reduce lineups everywhere
- Know which corridors, bathrooms, food stations and bars are most busy
- Deliver a personalized welcome for fans to visit their favorite concession
- Better predict and serve the needs of specific types of fans
Think if fans could:
- Enter the stadium knowing the fastest gate
- Take the least congested route to their seats
- View in-the-moment wait times to guide their trip to concession or retail
- Figure out the fastest trip to a restroom
- Get coupons sent to their device for food or products they are likely to buy
- Find the fastest exit when the game’s over
This is what a Smart stadium can deliver: insights to owners to create better and more personalized experiences, and insights for fans that help them make best of use of their time and the money they spent on the tickets.
Smart stadiums are already here
Prior to the pandemic, our team at InnerSpace tested these ideas inside a multi-sport venue in a major urban centre back before the pandemic hit. In this study we used our industry-leading space analytics platform to assess that facility’s retail and food environments and fan behaviors while waiting in line.
In so doing, we quantified some of the impact of a Smart stadium:
- Boost merchandise sales by $1 million/year with tactics such as pop-up booths in high-traffic areas and app-based rewards for repeat visitors.
- Just 20% of fans returned to buy more food or drinks: promotions for repeat visits and vouchers for under-performing concession stands could boost sales by $35,000/year.
- After six minutes waiting in line, the bounce rate rocketed 13-fold: Knowing wait times in advance so they didn’t have to wait could boost sales by $460,000/year.
Meanwhile, owners can gather preferences of certain subsets of fans (i.e. football vs baseball vs concert goers), first-time and repeat visitors, home fans vs fans of visiting teams, repeat concession visitors, fans who mill about and explore the stadium when not seated, and others in order to adjust operations and suit those tendencies.
With the NFL’s big dance looming, this story was about stadiums. Yet these insights could be extrapolated for other large-scale venues such as convention centers and large corporate complexes, too.
In the end, knowing who goes where – while maintaining full data privacy – can make for an improved indoor experience for all.