Sports venue mobile apps have become a central part of providing a distinctive guest experience largely because of their versatility. Apps can enhance a variety of customer-focused initiatives including wayfinding, point of sales, fan engagement, marketing and delivering food & beverage and apparel items, and game tracking. For facility operators, venue apps are critical for gathering data for operational optimization. These uses are realized through the integration of apps with other technologies such as AR, wearables, and live streaming.
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How It Works:
The magic of a sports venue app is not in the app itself, it’s in how it makes other technologies accessible for users. Apps use Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) beacons, sensors, and wearables to track guests’ movement throughout the venue. This data is transmitted to the app and can help users find parking, exits, even the shortest lines for concession stands and restrooms. Apps can also integrate with navigation tools to help guests find their seats in the venue or the closest restaurant outside the venue. Of course, apps can communicate with point of sales systems to allow guests to make purchases. They can also utilize artificial intelligence that analyzes user profile data points to make purchase suggestions. These suggestions are made through push notifications that are triggered when the app or a wearable enters a specific zone of the facility. Apps can also receive video footage from content delivery networks so that users can view live streaming feeds on their phone or tablet. Additionally, apps can be teamed with AR technology to show you an event layout and how to get from your current location to your seat.
In essence, venue apps can take in data from a variety of technologies, process it, and translate it into a myriad of functions that build a convenient and unique experience for guests.
Because of their versatility and ability to connect with so many technologies, apps are a one-stop shop for all parts of the guest experience. One app can help you get to the arena, find your seat when you arrive, purchase food and facilitate its delivery, purchase a sweatshirt, track stats, including biometrics, capture replays from various angles, check for lines at the restroom, connect with other guests (in front of those restrooms), receive deals on favored apparel items, and find a local restaurant after the tournament.
For event operators, apps are a way to increase guest engagement, streamline service, and capture location and purchase data. Great example is mobile food ordering. Apps that allow for this function, reduce lines at concession areas, make it easier for guests to place food and drink orders, and allows operators to drive sales of specific food items through the use of push notifications.
Obstacles To Entry:
Statistics show that the average smart phone user has 40 apps on their phone. Of those 40 apps, 89 percent of time is spent using less than half of those apps. Adoption of another app, especially one for temporary use, is a challenge. Providing content for an app can be challenging as well. For apps to reach their maximum effectiveness, including integration with many of the technologies we’ve already mentioned, an overall technology plan must be developed based on the type of guest experience you’d like to produce. To build a unique guest experience through an app, thoughtful consideration about the type of content you want to provide must take place. For example, if providing a seamless process for guests to find their seats is a high priority for your venue (as is the case for nearly all venues), your venue app should include wayfinding functionality that can integrate with AR technology or that can read QR codes.
Venue Apps In Action:
The Seattle Kraken of the National Hockey League have developed one the most comprehensive apps in sports. The app allows guests to purchase apparel and concessions and have it delivered to their seats. Free passes for Seattle’s mass transit systems King County Metro (buses, light rail, and water taxi), and the Seattle Center Monorail can be printed from the app for use on gameday. The app integrates with Ticketmaster allowing guests to purchase tickets for upcoming events. Additionally, future versions of the app will integrate with Amazon Music to give guests the opportunity to download music before and after concerts at the venue.