Sports arenas and entertainment venues have been digitizing for years, albeit at a slow pace, but COVID-19 has been the beginning of contactless payments and now digital demand to elevate the fan experience with new systems to simplify — and even personalize — big events.
During a recent PYMNTS TV ‘On the Agenda’ session, Ben Conrad, Vice President of Digital Marketing and Automation at Milwaukee Bucks, Jeff Johnson, General Manager of Bypass and Clover Sport at Fiserv, and Scott McKay, Vice President of Global Digital Commerce at Fiserv, agreed that Connectivity is changing sports fans faster now, even with forms of COVID-19 looming over the picture.
Konrad noted that Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum has done “essential” digital work, but “[COVID] Speeding it up to a different level where all of a sudden there were super specific things we had to get done just to be able to get the fans back into the arena.”
Describing how the fan journey is changing, Webster told Webster that “having multiple systems in one place, like our app, and being able to communicate on a one-to-one basis is really critical” as the stadium went from 25% to 50% to 100% of capacity “in a week and a half”.
This means that being able to digitally connect with fans before they even arrive is now vital to an overall experience. “Without all the different things that we connected within our app and the ability to market on an individual basis, that would have been really difficult,” Konrad said.
Fortunately, any fan who has the app downloaded to their phone can experience these changes — fun.
“We needed to communicate [food and beverage ordering changes] “Because we got to 100% capacity, there were a lot of people who weren’t in a game all season,” Konrad said. “At that point, it’s probably the most exciting [place]It is one of the Eastern Conference Finals matches, and it is the first time they have ever played a match [where] They go to order food and drink – a completely different experience from what they’ve had before.”
Integrating Fiserv’s mobile ordering Bypass technology with the company’s connected commerce capabilities and Clover Point of Sale (POS) platform gives Fiserv Forum spectators new ways to enjoy the game while cheering on the 2021 NBA Championship Milwaukee Bucks.
“We’re kind of starting to work with teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, and think holistically about the industry,” Johnson said. “How can we put in place technology that will allow fans to order and get food safely, but more importantly, do so without breaking the teams’ operational experience?”
The result is an in-app experience that lets consumers know where and when their food will be delivered, fresh and ready, and gives them control over pickup at different points in the game — or during their least favorite song at a concert. In short: comfort.
PYMNTS Study “The Connected Consumer in the Digital Economy: Who Wants to Live in a Digital Connected Economy – and Why?” It found that “comfort seekers earn more annual income than any other connected personal group, with 46% earning more than $100,000 annually.”
According to the study, “They also appear to be the most financially stable: 37% say they don’t live with their paycheck. Not only do they have the greatest appetite for connected experiences, but they also have an interest in transacting within one ecosystem.”
Get studyingThe Connected Consumer in the Digital Economy: Who wants to live in a digitally connected economy – and why?
A day in the life of a connected fan
Planning better fan experiences in the arena requires a great deal of work outside the arena.
“When we look at a day in the life of fans, it starts several days in advance, starting with the digital engagement being able to buy tickets, book a parking lot, and then the flight on the same day,” MacKay said. “Really, the fan can be connected all day, whether it’s driving directions, parking, getting to the facility, or booking or ordering clothes, a shirt or a hat before entering the stadium or arena itself.”
When modifying the connected stadiums, Mackay said the team takes inspiration from what happens in restaurants and grocery stores with QR codes, integrating digital wallets and other payment options — “applying value to ticket stubs and being able to redeem those values either before or during the game itself.”
“So, the digital experience evolved and a lot of it came from outside of sports and entertainment [realm] But it is posted inside,” MacKay continued.
Staying in touch with the fans off the field is also vital to their entry.
As Conrad told Karen Webster, “We want to start communicating with that fan – especially someone who already bought a couple of days ago – just to make sure they know all of their options coming into gaming, so that no matter what they’re doing, they can have the most efficient and most beneficial experience when They get here, whether it’s something as simple as parking or merchandise.”
see also: NY Islanders team with Fiserv for contactless payments at UBS Arena
Seize New Opportunities
Coast-to-coast Arenas is seeing the benefits of digital connectivity. With more to come in 2022, fans and venues are gearing up for a big win.
“I think fans will reap the benefits, not just the Fiserv Forum,” Johnson said. “It’s the UBS Arena that we just launched in New York that has set records to break records [concession sales per capita] They are almost 100% [set up as] markets. I’ve never seen a stadium work like this before.”
Fiserv is also transforming the fan experience by working with Gillette Stadium, New England Patriots, The Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat and more.
Mackay believes the partnerships will begin to expand into other venues, such as hotels and restaurants that fans sponsor before and after events.
“Maybe the technology integration points will be different, and maybe different applications depending on the team or fan,” McKay said. “But I think it elevates everyone’s fan experience by being able to organize these complex touch points in a very simple and seamless way.”
It also boosts the places’ bottom line, Konrad Labster said. During the playoffs, Bucks found that mobile orders generated 32% more revenue than traditional franchise sales.
As a result, the team redirected its perks strategy to take mobile payment requests as closely as possible, based on insights from the data it obtains.
“As our data becomes more complex, especially with our app and the single sign-on elements that we’ve included in the platform, we’ll be able to understand who’s in the game at the time, what they’re doing, what they want to buy and then give them opportunities out of the space.. They can participate in it, like retail,” Konrad added.
“This is all kind of an open space for us to help drive our fans and help engage our fans in this way and provide selling opportunities throughout our properties.”
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