Today's sports fans expect more than great action on the field or court. They want a truly immersive, connected and social experience that starts the moment they arrive, then follows them throughout the venue's entire campus, from the concourse, to their seats, concession stands, restaurants and bars, merchandise shops, on-site hospitality properties, and even to the restroom.
Venue owners and operators have limitless opportunities to differentiate themselves and create new sources of revenue by creating the fan experiences they expect now as well as novel ones they haven't imagined yet. The key lies in supporting those customer experiences with reliable, high-capacity networks required to to keep pace with innovation.
Let's follow a group of fans to see the impact of robust and reliable network and internet connectivity on their experience.
The difference starts as soon as they approach the venue and use a smart parking app to avoid long entry lines, identify open parking spots, find and pay for their car at the end of the day. Next on the agenda: using free WiFi to check in to their social media apps before commencing the serious business of tailgating and pre-game activities.
Even if the tailgate party runs long, they won't miss any of the game thanks to e-ticketing systems and wayfinding apps that help them find the most convenient point of entry, as well as locate their seats, concession stands, merchandise shops and restrooms.
Your fans won't have to go far to find food and drink specials or that special team jersey when WiFi-based location services serve up the refreshments and merchandise they want based on their current whereabouts, direction they're walking and interactions during past visits.
Once they're in their seats, these fans can interact with your team or venue app, where they can see branded content, exclusive news and videos, and interactive trivia and games. Plus, they can order and pay for food and beverage delivery right to their seat and even pay and be ticketed for an upgraded seat if available.
During the game, your high-speed network keeps your fans immersed in the action and connected to their favorite athletes and coaches, with real-time instant replay, game stats and player performance insights like speed and accuracy, streamed to both jumbotron screens and their phones.
Fans aren't the only ones who win when venues are connected with high-speed, high-capacity networks. The right technology foundation can deliver a best-in-class experience for employees as well – for everyone from front-of-house staff to back office managers to corporate executives.
Managers can more closely monitor and control inventory, kitchen systems and facility maintenance with actionable data and insights from sensors and connected devices. They'll know exactly when bathrooms need to be cleaned, which food stand needs more French fries, and where fan traffic flow needs to be modified.
Guest relations staff will be able to focus more on high-touch services when digital signage helps fans get where they need to go and keeps concession offerings uniform and updated in real time.
Your security staff can take advantage of "virtual manpower" with high-definition video monitoring systems that provide 24/7 surveillance and intelligence, and cloud storage of footage that can be shared with local law enforcement.
Retail and food service workers can serve fans more quickly with high-capacity point of sale (POS) systems and wireless tablets, both of which can automatically trigger cooking and food prep the moment an order is placed. Supported by quick connections between POS systems and back-of-the-house data analytics programs, operations personnel can adapt product and service offerings in real time, based on fans' buying behaviors.
The marketing staff can take advantage of real-time analytics insights gleaned through loyalty apps, social media posts, location services and sensor technologies – all of which are enabled by ubiquitous, high-speed WiFi and a robust underlying network.
Connectivity also is critical for team coaches and managers who need reliable and seamless communications and artificial intelligence for game-day player analysis and instant play calls and game adjustments.
Technology is redefining how people enjoy a day out at the ballpark, stadium, track and rink. It's also redefining how venues operate, by opening new sources of revenue through enhanced fan engagement and the ability to extend their services beyond sports and entertainment, to corporate and community events.
Gig-speed network connectivity provides the infrastructure venues need to deliver and manage the experience fans, teams and staff demand, including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, gaming and next-generation applications that are still on the horizon.