Tech-Enabled Stadiums: The Pioneer for Large-Scale Hospitality Venues

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Tech-Enabled Stadiums: The Pioneer for Large-Scale Hospitality Venues

By Debbi Blackburn, VP Business Development for Givex - 10/14/2019

Technology has improved how society operates in multiple facets, from food delivery apps to ride sharing to online banking and more. As technology continues to evolve, industries across the board are adapting to the changing landscape, finding new ways to leverage tech advancements to improve operations.

The stadium experience, in particular, has seen significant innovation in recent years. Through recent developments in hospitality technology, stadiums are now able to drastically improve fan experience, increase ticket sales, boost food and beverage sales, and ultimately provide an enhanced guest experience.

From Avid Attendee to Frustrated Fan

Whether fans are filing in for a concert or a sporting event, the thrill of the event can often be overshadowed by the daunting concession lines. The risk of missing that favorite song or tie-breaking goal is one of the main points of frustration for stadium-goers and often means guests will limit their number of concession visits or will skip the snacks all together.

It’s this universal point of contention that’s seen stadiums turn to technology to improve the fan experience while boosting the bottom line. From in-seat ordering to customizable menus, stadiums are stepping up their game in order to provide a VIP experience for the fans.

By offering ordering technology right from the seats, guests are able to order food and drinks throughout any event without risking missing a minute of the action. With this ease of ordering comes an increase in order quantity, creating a win-win for both fans and venues. 

Stadium Set-Backs

One of the main challenges stadiums face when implementing new technology is ensuring seamless integration into the central POS system. The need for menu item and price flexibility is a major requirement for stadiums that offer different options to box seats versus VIP seats versus general admission.

Not only that, but given the tight timing for stadium events, stadiums face the unique challenge of serving mass amounts of people in a short time frame. In times of low unemployment, finding solutions that maintain, better yet, improve, guest experience despite hiring challenges is crucial for entertainment venues. By leveraging new tech solutions to ensure operations are running as seamlessly and efficiently as possible, stadiums are able to continue providing a great customer experience while driving sales.

Thriving Through Tech

An integrated POS system that allows menus and prices to be easily modified is just the start. Implementing the use of handheld tablets within stadiums allows fans to order directly from their seats and gives servers the ability to take multiple orders at a time, with runners delivering the orders as they’re ready. Servers also have the ability to take handheld tablets into luxury suites and take orders, eliminating the need for a full-time host in the suites. This not only alleviates stress from the hospitality staff, but also drastically reduces line ups at food and beverage counters, increasing efficiency and boosting guest satisfaction.

Loaded tickets are another growing trend among stadiums. Using tickets as a platform for stored value that can be used at concession stands and retail stores creates a more seamless transaction process, and allows fans to forgo carrying cash. Loaded tickets also provide a more direct platform for stadiums to send promotions to specific sections during an event, allowing the stadium to boost sales to certain food and drink vendors.

Loaded tickets are also being used to create loyalty programs that support fan and guest retention and increase guest satisfaction through initiatives like real-time promotions and rewards programs that also help boost sales. Stadiums are able to identify long-term fans and provide unique incentives to that particular demographic to further nurture that relationship. Meanwhile, newer fans feel the VIP treatment when they gain exclusive access to discounts and promotions.

Integrating ordering technology and loaded tickets also offers a wealth of insight into purchasing trends within the stadium. By analyzing real-time data around which items are selling at what times, venues are able to adjust promotions to boost sales and better manage inventory levels.

Calling All Hospitality Venues

As more and more stadiums begin to implement this technology, large-scale hospitality venues are paying close attention to see how the tech can play a role in different environments. In hotels, for example, ordering tablets can streamline the room service process by eliminating the need for staff to man room service calls and reducing the order errors that come along with phone ordering. These tablets also benefit the poolside experience for hotel guests that want their Pina Coladas delivered to them without needing to leave their cabana. Meanwhile, festivals are leveraging the loaded ticket model to offer wristbands that act, not only as a ticket to entry, but as a digital wallet that can be used with all festival vendors.

Stadiums across the globe are just in the beginning phases of adopting innovative technology to enhance fan experience. As more stadiums start to see success with this tech, we anticipate that adoption rates will start to spread like wildfire.

About the Author

Debbi Blackburn has over 20 years of experience in the stored value, loyalty, POS and payments space. She joined Givex in 2002 and since 2009, has been working with ticketing providers and event venues, including high-profile organizations such as Tickets.com, Ticketmaster, Paciolan, MLB, MiLB, NHL, NFL, NBA as well as college athletics. Besides being a powerful client advocate and effective collaborator, she is known for her ability to solve problems and build strong relationships.