How New Technology Is Improving the Fan Experience at Stadiums and Arenas

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Operators of stadiums and arenas are always trying to improve the fan experience, and new technology is providing a big assist. Here's a look at a few players, big and small, that are aiming to make game day easier for fans and, in some cases, more exciting.

Ketchup with that?
Digital commerce and marketing platform Noble recently partnered with Satisfi Labs on a "conversational AI platform" that can be used by stadium and arena concessions operations. The new AI-powered Food & Beverage Assistant aims to make it easier for fans to access food and drink information, while allowing them to ask questions and actually have a limited conversation with the concessions operator.

Noble's cashless, contact-free ordering platform is built for high-volume live event locations. It can be used via text and QR codes, and the integration with Satisfi Labs' AI technology allows for direct messaging.

Noble COO Matt Draper says the company is always looking to improve ease-of-use for customers, adding, "We now offer our users a more natural way to place these orders to meet their specific needs and increase their overall experience and satisfaction."

Attendees of live events using the virtual assistant can ask food- and drink-related questions and get on-demand answers to a variety of queries, including (but not limited to) the types of concessions offered at the venue, locations of concessions, pricing and wait times. Guests can also make purchases through the platform.

Noble notes that operators benefit from the solutions, as well, by driving more digital orders, increasing transaction size and fulfilling orders through a cashless system.

"Guests of live events are interested in accessing information at their fingertips and across multiple channels," says Don White, CEO at Satisfi Labs. "By working with Noble, our venue customers are now able to not only provide their guests with automated answers on their food and beverage choices but drive transactions through a chat conversation. Our joint offering improves the fan experience and provides venue operators a new data source to learn about their guest's concessions-buying behaviors and tailor their offerings for the future."

The benefits of loyalty
The Miami Dolphins have partnered with SKIDATA, a provider of access- and revenue-management software, for the team's customer-loyalty program. SKIDATA's platform allows members of "The Fin Club" to earn points for purchasing food, beverages and merchandise at games, while also helping them engage with the team through the club's website and social media channels.

Members of The Fin Club can also take advantage of a seat-sharing feature for season-ticket holders, direct access to ticket-event management and a newly created "breakup clause," which enables the account-holder to recall the seats at any time — for example, if the ticket-holder breaks up with their partner.

SKIDATA notes that the Dolphins organization benefits through a 360-degree view of its fans, as the club is able to see data on how Fin Club members are interacting with the team, what events they attend, and what items they are interested in.

The Fin Club platform works with social media and integrates with all major merchandise and food and beverage outlets in the stadium in real time. The platform is capable of serving all 76,100 fans simultaneously within the Dolphins' Sun Life Stadium.

While the loyalty platform provides fans with a value-added experience, it also generates revenue for the Dolphins. SKIDATA has tracked the following results:
• Fin Club members increase their spending on food and beverages by $3 dollars per person.
• Fifty-nine percent of cardholders arrive at least 30 minutes early to the game when encouraged with points.
• Thirty-nine percent of cardholders swipe their cards at food beverage stands.
• Concessions points of sale see 50 percent more spending in the first 60 minutes after the gates open.

Smarter smartphones
As sponsor of the 2021 Home Run Derby during All-Star Game week in Colorado, T-Mobile had a chance to debut new mobile technology that gave fans an immersive in-stadium experience on their phones. Fans were able to use the MLB AR (Augmented Reality) App to track ball trails as balls were knocked out of the park. The app also allowed fans to get the inside scoop on distance stats, while T-Mobile customers with a 5G device were able to unlock bonus stats like hangtime, exit velocity and maximum height.

This is just the start of the MLB AR app. Major League Baseball and T-Mobile said in a press release they aim to continue transforming the baseball fan experience, working closely to roll out new features, additional 3D stadium representations and more.

This article originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of Athletic Business with the title "How New Technology Is Improving the Fan Experience at Stadiums and Arenas" Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


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