For many sports fans, it’s been a little over a year since their last outing to a live event.
While 2020 sent the industry into a period of uncertainty regarding live sports and events, new research from Oracle shows fans are eager to return to the electric atmosphere of in-person games.
Oracle’s new highlights how stadium and arena operators can design optimal fan journeys and build the technology stack to allow fans to enjoy game day their way. The survey, conducted by Untold Insights in January 2021, polled 3,000 consumers in the U.S., U.K., and Australia on their sentiment toward returning to stadiums this year.
The survey shows that while fans are ready to cheer on their favorite teams in-person again, many still have safety concerns: even while stadiums operate at a reduced capacity. This shift in consumer trends presents an opportunity for sports teams and operators to reconsider how they orchestrate fan journeys at their stadium.
“From season-ticket holders to casual fans, consumers are looking forward to the return of in-person events, but like so many industries, sports and entertainment won’t return to the status quo for some time, if ever,” says Simon de Montfort Walker, senior vice president and general manager, . “Operators have worked hard during the shutdown to create better, safer experiences that customers not only want but have come to expect. Technology will play a key role in the evolution of the 360-degree fan experience.”
Survey respondents overwhelmingly agree that expectations are high after a year away from the buzz and atmosphere of in-person sports. In anticipation of these changes, industry leaders are looking to technology as part of the solution. Cloud-enabled point-of-sale technology is allowing stadium operators to expand their concession offerings to include contactless engagement through self-service kiosks, in-seat mobile ordering, and more. These integrated experiences are not only great for streamlining back-of-house operations, but trends also show that fans are willing to pay extra:
- 67% of people would buy more if they could pre-order and avoid the line, and 56% would like to schedule their orders so it will be ready at a set time
- 57% would love a “fast pass” system to gain priority access to food, shops and facilities; this was most popular with families with 62% rating this option as “awesome”
- 51% would like to plan their itineraries in advance so they can visit concessions and stores at set times to avoid the lines
The Survey also suggests that the 360-degree fan experience will extend outside the arena as consumers are increasingly interested in “making a day of it.” To be sure, 59% of consumers said that personalized offers and promotions for nearby restaurants/bars would impact their likelihood to go out before or after the event.
“The 360-degree fan experience starts before fans arrive and extends well beyond the park,” says Joe Rembold, Technical Innovation at Delaware North Companies. “More than 30 major pro sports franchises rely on Delaware North to provide their fans with dining and concessions at their home venue and across the board. Building partnerships and introducing ways to leverage technology to engage all our fans will simultaneously improve their experience and create new revenue streams.”
While there’s no telling yet how the last year will truly impact our industry, studying consumer behavior and trends can give us an idea of where we’re headed. Explore the full research report and discover which emerging technology trends will have the greatest impact on fan retention, game-day sales, and more.
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