Smart venues: Reinventing connected experiences

As the pandemic waned, sports fans returned to stadiums with higher expectations than ever. While craving the excitement and connection they missed while confined to their living rooms, they also began to appreciate the ease and comfort of being a fan at home. To keep them engaged and continually deliver exceptional fan experiences, sports organizations are reimagining how to create more personal entertainment by making their venues smarter and more responsive.

That means collecting and analyzing consumer data in new ways. To deepen fan loyalty and keep them coming to the game, we see three key areas where your franchise should focus its venue upgrades and development — operations, fan experiences and sustainability.

Use technology to improve operations and build community

We know venue operations must ensure a clean, safe and enjoyable visit. But by collecting data about how fans engage with venues in real time, your organization has the opportunity to go beyond meeting basic needs to anticipating and exceeding expectations. Richer data will allow teams and organizations to more broadly and deeply delight fans, and sponsors, both at the venue and virtually.

From a facility management perspective, building a digital twin of a stadium enables operations managers to consistently monitor equipment for proactive maintenance — from lights to escalators to air conditioning — allowing for repair or replacement before key infrastructure breaks down. Smart venues can also smooth the way for fans by directing them to open parking, navigating them to their seats and delivering concessions without any wasted time in line.

The more robust and centralized a venue’s fan data is, the more accurately facilities personnel can plan ahead to enhance security measures or improve traffic control. At an operations level, the role of the venue is the same as that of a concierge — to invisibly solve problems before they arise, enabling fans to forget their immediate surroundings and fully immerse themselves in the game.

Enable fans to do more than just watch

Memorable experiences, both physical and virtual, drive fan loyalty and — not coincidentally — boost revenue. Tools like Microsoft’s Dynamics 365, Azure Analytics and Cognitive Services offer opportunities to more completely reimagine what it means to watch a game. Fans can use second screens to contextualize the action with on-demand statistics, and streaming can bring them into the huddle with the players. Purchasing a player’s jersey can be as easy as touching it on the device in your hand.

The insights that you glean from these kinds of interactions can help you tailor offers and advertisements directly to the individuals who are most likely to respond to them. Fans who receive these personalized messages are likely to feel more valued and understood — boosting their allegiance to your organization and affiliated brands.

Ultimately, by taking advantage of AI and augmented reality, you can expect to be able to deliver a thrilling real-time experience to fans anywhere, whether they’re on the sofa or in a stadium. The ideal fan experience, however, is one that doesn’t yet exist — leaders in sports and tech are only at the beginning of reimagining what the future fan experience might be. Many are redefining what a “game” is — it’s not the mere few hours of the actual contest, but rather a string of engaging interactions across a number of platforms, partners and spaces.

Don’t punt on climate change

Environmental considerations are driving more consumer decisions. In fact, about 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from an organization that stands up for environmental issues, according to PwC’s ESG Consumer Intelligence Survey.

Smart venues offer countless ways to help organizations meet these higher environmental standards as they build or modernize stadiums. A digital twin can track energy use and emissions and identify ways to reduce them. This and other smart technologies can also analyze patterns in what ends up in the trash and find ways to, for instance, order food and serve it with less waste.

Investments to reduce energy consumption will pay off as the cost of energy increases, and taking action on sustainability demonstrates an organization’s values and builds goodwill among fans and the broader community. Those actions could include helping organize sustainable transportation options for fans, partnering with other environmentally responsible companies and educating fans about what they can do to make a difference. Discover more ways smart venues can reap the benefits of sustainability here.

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