Beyond Beacons: Fan Safety and Experience Returning to Live Events

As seen in my presentation Wednesday, beacon technology has potential to enhance the fan experience.  In the past few years, the Internet of Things has been implemented into stadiums across the world, and with the changing environment around the COVID-19 pandemic, these technologies bring even more value in ensuring fan safety and health as we transition back to live events.   The new “smart stadium” can leverage technology to decrease the risk of disease transmission among fans and staff.  As we are all antsy to get back to normal life and live events, let’s look at what this IoT enabled end to end fan experience may look like to keep fans safe and give them a seamless experience while returning to live events.

https://sportsvenuebusiness.com/2020/05/26/introducing-the-touchless-fan-journey/

Arrival

Once a fan has gotten their ticket via an online digital platform, it is time they make their way to the stadium.  The ticket should be sitting in their digital wallet with a unique ticket code, to ensure authenticity.  Before the game fans can purchase parking, pull up digital venue maps, and add money to their digital fan account which is associated with their ticket on their mobile device.  This allows users to scan their ticket in their digital wallet or pay through the app with the money they loaded on to their account, removing physical touchpoints from their experience.  They can also purchase a wearable, and stadiums could leverage the opportunity to partner with a wearable company such as Fantom.  The Fantom wearable is an everyday wearable, like a Fitbit, but tailored to your favorite team. The wearable at the moment is for an out of stadium experience, giving fans live updates and real time team notifications, but I see an opportunity for this wearable to be implemented for in stadium experience as well. This wearable can allow fans to hold their ticket, credit card, rewards, etc on a single device on their wrist.  They can use this for touchless payment and entrance, much like the Magic Bands that are known for their successful implementation at Disney parks. 

https://global.getfantom.com/

Once the fan has arrived and parked, in which they can get live updates of parking lot section capacity via the app and mark their spot in case they forget, they head into the game.  Once parked, beacon technology can assist in knowing where they parked and help navigate them into the stadium in the most efficient route to reduce contacts.  When arriving at the gate and scanning the digital ticket, the employee can receive a confirmation that the fan has taken all required COVID precautions and completed their pre-game health and safety check.  Temperature checks can occur simultaneously to ensure that the fan is healthy and not showing any signs and symptoms of COVID.  Another possibility is facial recognition.  With the implementation of facial recognition, which is being used in countries such as China, fans can be recognized based on their facial features and facial scanning.  This can help with touchless check in, temperature scans, and possible payments in the future. After the fan has passed the verification and health and safety check, they receive a push notification with directions to their assigned seat, COVID 19 rules and changes, and possible seat upgrade deals. 

During the Game

When fans are feeling hungry, they have many options that will ensure a feeling of safety within the stadium.  If they have downloaded the stadiums app, they can order from their favorite vendor through a single click.  With the option to pay through their ticket in their mobile wallet, or via card, they can reduce physical touchpoints.  The order is then confirmed and they will ask to confirm location as well, in which the food will be delivered in seat, or can opt for contactless pickup.  When they get their beer and popcorn delivered, and the popcorn spills, they can easily reopen the app to the refill button to request a refill at the push of a button, which is automatically charged to their account. 

With retail purchases, fans can either order in app and have their purchases delivered to their seat, or venture to the closest retail location and leverage the cashier less store technology that allows them to grab their item and walk out, while the value added to their ticket will be charged.  This helps to reduce face to face contact with cashiers and keep the risk of spreading disease as low as possible.

While at the game, the fan may need to use the restroom, in which they open the app for navigation to the closest restroom.  Sensors within these restrooms will help to update the fan on the capacity and current wait time of a specific facility.  The fan ventures to the closest restroom with the shortest line and sees as they walk in they are the 10th user of the facility since the last clean, as sensor technology triggers a cleaning request when a threshold of number of fans who have used the facility is met.  The fan waits on line and when they get to the front of the line, receive a green flash which directs them to which number restroom is open with the use of presence detection sensors within each stall.  The fan then washes their hands (of course!) and heads back to their seat, which they put in a report that the bathroom they were using is in need of cleaning, if they see necessary.

Post-Game

After the game, the fan reopens the app to see where they parked and gets an ad about rideshare discounts and postgame events in the area.  They wait in their seats for their assigned time to exit, in which they will exit via a designated gate closest to their car.  While waiting, they are prompted to take a survey to give feedback on how their experience was and share any ideas that would enhance their stadium experience.  If there have been any reported COVID cases within the facility, they can also opt in to be notified via email.  Also, if they have a Fantom band, they can keep up to date with the team’s events and receive promos for future ticket sales and events. 

Final Thoughts

Although we are unsure what life will look like post-COVID, especially at live events, this is an example of an end to end integration of IoT technology to enhance fan experience and safety.  The shift to frictionless and touchless is going to be important, as physical touch leads to a higher risk of possible viral transmission.  Stadiums are going to need to adapt quick to bring fans back in the safest way possible, while also keeping in mind the consumer behavioral shift to value of cleanliness and health and safety.

6 comments

  1. therealerindee · ·

    Awesome post to complement your presentation! I think having offering this technology to get fans back into stadiums and live events would be a great way to set people’s minds at ease. I know that I would rather not be stuck in long lines or in bathrooms with people if I didn’t have to be, and I could see the use of beacons being a great way to avoid these situations. I’m curious if once people are comfortable being in stadiums or at live events the offerings that come with the use of beacons could be tiered and monetized in some way. Similar to the perks you get if you buy a ticket in a specific section, I could see this as being a way for teams to charge a bit more for the convenience that the tech brings.

  2. Great followup to a very solid presentation. Nice work!

  3. conoreiremba · ·

    Really enjoyed your presentation and this was a great follow-up, Olivia. Beyond COVID safety measures I agree that this technology can only enhance the fan viewing experience when we can all return to stadiums in large numbers. I can’t tell you how many times I have missed plays at games by having badly timed a mid-game rush to the bathroom or concession stand only to be greeted with large crowds. I missed my first home-run at Fenway Park this way, but I digress.

    I’m all for reducing friction at sporting venues though, and I think that taking friction out of the lives of fans is going to a game is going to be a huge competitive advantage for franchises. I wonder if teams could gather the data from these bands/apps to customize the individual experience even further based on their behaviors and purchase patterns at previous games in the types of promos they offer. Also, with sports betting set to become more widespread across venues in the coming years, I wonder will we see betting companies partner with stadiums by leveraging these apps and wearables to offer in-game betting facilities to fans.

  4. williammooremba · ·

    Excellent post that I think nicely complements your presentation. One thing this made me think of is if Internet of Things could really help with charitable organizations involved with sports. I think one of the barriers when trying to get support in the case of something like a sports game is the additional work for donating. If a fan must go on a website or fill out a form which would either distract from the game or be additional follow-up later, it seems like they might not do it. However, if by either using a wearable or on a stadium app which is connected to their credit card, it could be a simple matter of just clicking a button to give support. This could maybe be particularly impactful while they are learning about a charitable sponsor in real time like at the start of a game. In addition to the overall fan experience and health benefits, it seems like that could be another advantage of more technology integrated sports events.

  5. Great presentation and very detailed post of Beacon’s applications. Besides, beacons could help the stadium to customize the experience of the individual customers in the stadium. I agree that such technology can definitely improve the entire experience of watching sports in the stadium. It reminds me that similar technology was sued by apple stores too, whenever I am near an apple store, I could always get their marketing notifications on the phone. If I am going to pick up the devices I ordered online, the pickup code would automatically show up on the phone. Since GPS cannot determine the precise location of the device, beacons will widely be used in various situations especially in marketing. I’m more interested in how much of this technology turns into the ROI, and how will beacons help companies increase their revenue and reduce the cost.

  6. courtneymba · ·

    I enjoyed both your presentation and your blog post. It’s so interesting about IoT transforming live event experiences. So many of these applications would be helpful from a public safety perspective and enrich the user experience at the same time. The one aspect that I always cringe at is facial recognition (and thumbprint while we’re at it). I know if my password is hacked, I can just change it.. but not my face or thumb lol!

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