Getting Ready for Game Day: How Sports Teams Use Customer Data to Bolster the Fan Experience
Faced with the challenge of luring sports fans away from the comfort of their living rooms on game day, sports organizations are now using customer data collected through mobile apps to optimize the in-stadium fan experience. The NFL, for example, recently overhauled its NFL Mobile app. Likewise, many individual NFL teams are creating in-stadium apps to better connect with fans and improve their game-day experience with personalized services.
However, the benefits of developing an in-stadium mobile app go far beyond enhancing the fan experience. For NFL teams, apps create more revenue opportunities, lead to a greater collection of customer data and generate real-time sales information. Take the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi Stadium app, which increased revenue by $2 million in its first year through increased food, beverage and merchandise sales and in-app sponsorships, BizTech Magazine reported.
What does it take to create a successful in-stadium sports app? First of all, sports organizations should keep these points in mind:
- Updates won’t happen overnight. Creating the app is only a small piece of the puzzle. It is a long process to design and incorporate connectivity into existing sports venues.
- Technology changes fast. Teams will need to constantly improve and update equipment within their venue to stay current.
Connectivity Is Key
In order for an in-stadium mobile app to work, there must be a foundation to support it. For instance, if fans will be uploading photos or downloading data during the game, venues will need to have the increased bandwidth to support that activity.
To successfully deploy Wi-Fi within a sports venue, teams must consider the stadium’s layout as well as the number of fans expected to attend each event. This may be easier to do if you’re building a new venue from scratch, but existing stadiums can be upgraded to accommodate Wi-Fi as well — it is simply a longer, more arduous process.
The most common solution for in-stadium connectivity is to combine a distributed antenna system (DAS) with a high-density Wi-Fi solution. A DAS network consists of many antennae tuned to exactly match the areas where boosted service is needed. These technologies are packaged together because certain applications won’t work over a DAS solution.
How Are NFL Teams Supporting Their In-Stadium Mobile Apps?
As mobile apps grow more popular, teams are doing their best to ensure stadium infrastructure is updated to support the technology. According to BizTech Magazine, the San Francisco 49ers installed 1,200 Wi-Fi access points throughout the venue and 2,000 wireless beacons to provide location-based services.
The Denver Broncos began a four-stage retrofit of their stadium in 2012 that resulted in an upgrade of the entire network infrastructure, TechRepublic reported. The upgrade included adding 10 gigabit switches, accompanying wireless controllers and 500 wireless access points. More infrastructure improvements are planned for the future to support mobile devices and apps.
The Broncos also upgraded their Ethernet, PRI connection and HD video services. Their wireless LAN can support 25,000 concurrent connections in the stadium. Additionally, they’ve added two 100 Mbps Ethernet lines, one of which provides direct access to connect the scoreboard, video screens and Wi-Fi users.
Collecting Customer Data
Of course, a discussion about mobile apps isn’t complete without talking about analytics. In-stadium mobile apps do a lot for fans — helping them locate services, order concessions and interact on social media — but they also provide valuable customer data for teams. For example, organizations can:
- Access real-time sales and customer data that helps improve customer service and business operations.
- Analyze data from electronic ticket sales. The 49ers use this information to increase guest services staff if a certain percentage of fans attending a game are new visitors.
- Apply real-time data that leads to better management of food and beverage inventory, such as removing a menu item before it runs out.
Over time, in-stadium apps can provide athletic organizations with a better understanding of fan preferences based on usage patterns. By studying the customer data these apps collect, teams will be able to bolster their marketing efforts and further personalize the services they offer to fans both inside the stadium and out.
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