How to Design Stadiums for a Better Fan Experience
Stadiums these days face tough competition from the increasing quality of HDTVs and the general inconvenience of going to crowded places.
So how exactly can stadium owners keep up with these challenges? We think it’s by shifting focus entirely to the fan experience by looking at whatever activities they will engage in while at the stadium.
In recent years, stadium attendance has stagnated (read: no growth). This can be attributed to high ticket prices and the prevalence of high quality, large TV screens in every American household. Many people also choose to watch on their mobile phones, or simply get updates from Twitter.
Make no mistake, the pressure is on stadium owners to deliver an outstanding experience that delivers more than the ticket price. Many stadium owners are turning to digital transformation to differentiate themselves.
One of these changes is the introduction of digital wayfinding. Digital wayfinding has proven widely successful in complex campuses, retail businesses and even tourist spots. Stadiums can employ digital wayfinding systems to benefit the fan experience as well.
A survey done in 2018 shows the fan satisfaction for stadium navigation is very low. Digital wayfinding can combat this dissatisfaction of fans by offering them indoor maps for arenas on their mobile phone. A kiosk can simply guide stadium goers to a mobile website that will handle the rest of the navigation.
Improved Parking Space
Another challenge to tackle is that of transit. Many people choose not to go to stadiums because of overcrowded parking lots and bad traffic near the arena. Since tickets for most sporting events can now be downloaded directly onto smartphones, parking space can be added as a bundled offer. This will give fans the confidence that there will be a parking space waiting for them once they reach the arena.
And the bundles shouldn’t only be limited to parking spaces. They can include passes to public transportation, or even a special rate if the customer chooses a ride-hailing app. These are all small incentives that can help stadium owners differentiate themselves.
Stadiums that have yet to be built, should be located at a small distance from transport hubs. Stadium owners should not underestimate the friction traffic and parking produces in the minds of fans who would otherwise be happy to accept high ticket prices.
Stadiums can also learn from other entertainment venues such as theme parks and cruise ships that provide connected bracelets that authorize and manage hotel access, admissions, purchases, thus reducing reliance of fans on their smartphones for these tasks.
Tickets can also be looked as gateways to other entertainment options for visitors. Onsite restaurants can be a great way to increase value from fan visits, by providing fans with special discounts during big game days. These discounts can easily be pushed to fans through app notifications (if your stadium has one) or through text messages.
While booking tickets, fans are often asked to provide their phone numbers and email addresses, so offering special offers for onsite entertainment isn’t something that will require novel technology.
All in all, convenient in-home access to sporting events and rising ticket prices are a major hurdle in increasing fan attendance at stadiums. But by innovating and using technology wisely, stadium owners can gain an edge over these rising challenges.