The need to be connected on the move has increased exponentially over the past decade to the point that we now check our smartphones an average of 150 times per day*. As such, the ability to get online quickly and easily is becoming an expectation of venues that we choose to visit.
Stadiums have not escaped these demands; when people visit for sporting events, 3G/4G signals are often not very strong so they expect WiFi and do not want to enter a connectivity black hole that cuts them off from communicating with the outside world. Sports stadiums are increasingly recognising this and we are seeing a rise in the number of stadiums offering visitors a WiFi service as a result.
In this article Roger Matthews, Commercial Director of The Cloud, highlights how stadiums can make the most out of a WiFi connection in their venue and exceed the needs of visitors to create a truly unique modern-day sporting experience that compels them to return to the venue.
Make events more immersive than ever.
WiFi offers visitors the ultimate platform to dive deeper than ever into the stadium experience. In the same way that the internet has changed the way that we watch TV and media meshing has become a social phenomenon, it also has the power to revolutionise the way that we watch live sporting events.
In-game betting is one way that an event can be brought to life. With the availability of a stable internet connection, visitors can place bets during an event, drawing them further into the match experience. A further benefit of providing a reliable connection is that it lets spectators stream live commentary – adding a whole new dimension to the event and letting visitors customise their experience to suit them.
WiFi becomes a portal through which visitors can enter the world of sport and entertainment, browsing future game fixtures and checking live updates from football matches happening elsewhere, for example. Visitors become no longer passive spectators, but people that are actively engaging with the event unfolding before their eyes.
By putting the power back in the spectators’ hands, literally, stadiums are quickly managing to elevate the visitor experience to new levels.
Create a personal relationship with every visitor to the venue – and their friends.
Customer data has been marketers’ gold dust for a long time now. The problem in the stadium sector has been that often, one customer will purchase several tickets for friends or family and the stadium consequently can only store the contact information of a proportion of its customers.
One benefit of in-venue WiFi is that it can be used as a tool to collect this vital information not just from those who purchase tickets, but every person in a seat in the stadium that is accessing the internet connection. This opens a whole range of new possibilities for stadium managers.
It does not mean we should bombard visitors with masses of marketing materials, but rather allow them to build and appreciate the individual profile of each visitor, to which personalised marketing can be targeted. For example, this might mean sharing the latest offers at a bar a customer has previously checked-in at the stadium, or recommending upcoming events similar to those they’ve attended previously.
It also allows dialogues with visitors to continue outside of the event itself – stadiums can keep in touch with their visitors in-between events, whether that’s keeping visitors updated about upcoming events or letting them know about new merchandise. This keeps a venue on the radar of its visitors, and increases the likelihood of repeat visits when executed properly.
The conversations do not stop there. In an incredibly social world, WiFi gives visitors the connectivity that they need to tell the rest of the world about their experience during the stadium event. Whether it’s posting a photograph over Instagram or in-match updates on Twitter, people want to share their special moments with everybody. The benefits this brings to the venue shouldn’t be underestimated – as well as providing free exposure, it positions a stadium as a forward-thinking venue that puts social at the heart of every event, and welcomes a venue into every visitor’s personal social circle of friends and family.
As the world continues to sprint into the mobile age, the stadium sector must do the same in order to deliver the experience visitors want. The possibilities afforded to managers through in-venue WiFi are endless. But only by ensuring a fast, reliable connection can that potential be realised.
Roger Matthews, Commercial Director at Sky (The Cloud)