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A connected stadium is the future
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A connected stadium, a definition we run into more often in professional sports. A stadium that also takes the digital and connectivity needs of the supporter into account is almost mandatory these days. The concept of connected stadiums is already pretended as normal in the USA. More than half of the stadiums there from the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS all provide Wi-Fi in the stadium. Also, nearly 100% of the teams in all sports leagues have a mobile app. How important are these features in present-day sport? A connected stadium, the name actually covers the meaning. A connected stadium is basically a stadium in which the visitor has the opportunity to be active online through a Wi-Fi connection. But a connected stadium is much more than that: through the data (‘big data‘) that is collected in the stadium, the club develops new commercial opportunities, but also creates a new way of fan engagement. Supporters are directed through their mobile phone to a parking spot that is still empty, receive custom made content and pick up their food and drinks in the ‘fast lane’.

The rise of the target group born during the 80s and 90s, also known as “millenials” makes digitisation within stadiums of great importance. This group grew up in a world full of electronics and a society that is constantly online. The offer of Wi-Fi in a stadium is becoming increasingly important in the perception of the supporter. This is mainly due to the current society that we are living in. Sharing content with your friends and constantly feeling the need to know what is happening in the world are factors that affect the demand for Wi-Fi in a stadium.

According to intechnologywifi.com offering connectivity in a stadium to your fans can generate more revenue online. By making a stadium connected a number of commercial opportunities arise which can be beneficial for both the user and the club. The commercial opportunities are mainly located in the areas of ticketing, f&b and merchandise. This could, for example, be of use by developing special apps where one can buy tickets, order catering or purchase merchandise. The applications for Chelsea FC and sc Heerenveen that StadiumConnected developed are a perfect example. By developing a special f&b app, the CFC Express app, the average spend of the app users increased from £4.50 to £ 8.80. StadiumConnected is currently working to integrate ticketing and merchandise in the sc Heerenveen app.

Data driven marketing

In addition to these opportunities, the data collected through a connected stadium can be used to create a specific marketing strategy and implement it. For example, by letting users log in and connect the Wi-Fi to the club’s CRM system, one can find out interesting information about thinge supporter. The network that StadiumConnected builds in stadiums distinguishes itself from competitors by providing a dashboard that displays all information about the visitor. In this dashboard you have access to for example the residence, visitors frequency and social media use.

How companies can jump in on this is explained by the following example. Imagine: data shows that the vast majority of male supporters buys a glass of beer and a hot dog during half-time. Companies can jump in on this by, for example, showing an offer in the stadium for two hot dogs and two glasses of beer with a 25% discount just before half-time. This way, the obtained data is used to offer personalized services to the visitors. By this enhanced way of fan-engagement the relationship between a club and the supporter is improving. There are endless possibilities that unfold when using connectivity and data collection. This can also help set up and complete loyalty programs. Sponsors can generate additional exposure by advertising through a club-app and to focus on their target audience: Amstel beer will advertise at beer drinkers, Hunkemöller perhaps has a greater focus on women between the ages of 18-35.

An example of a club that makes good use of data collection is FC Twente. An article by Marketingfacts shows that FC Twente is gathering data in different ways (e.g. social media and the website). This data is used to engage fans on a more personal way through the website, email and the club-app. Soon there will even be a new website in which each visitor will see a personalized version.

In the future

A connected stadium contributes to the intensification of the fan experience. It can be used as an extra advantage in the fight against empty stadiums and falling visitor numbers. Most stadiums in America saw sales increase by 20% after making the stadium connected.The quality improvement of digital television causes people to watch the game at home instead of in the stadium. With a connected stadium people might get other thoughts and decide to go to the stadium. In addition, a connected stadium creates opportunities in the field of marketing/sales and branding. By data driven marketing strategies and forming these from the obtained data via Wi-Fi or the club-app, more sales and customer loyalty can be generated.

It is expected that connected stadiums in Europe are going to be a common known concept within the professional arm of sports. In the current economy where connectivity plays a large role, StadiumConnected can be of value to parties by ensuring an optimal functioning Wi-Fi network in combination with a club-app. The club-app and the Wi-Fi network are both supplied with a corresponding dashboard that can be linked to the CRM system of the sports club. StadiumConnected is different in this way compared to the competition. With the successful collaborations that StadiumConnected has already set up with clubs such as Chelsea, Standard Liege, sc Heerenveen, StadiumConnected gained enough IT knowledge and commercial insight to be a predecessor in the field of connected stadiums. In the future, this list of collaborations, partly due to the increasing demand for connected stadiums, will only increase. Would you like to have more information about the possibilities for a connected stadium? Feel free to contact us: bart.cordemeijer@bdsporteurope.com or tom.van.beem@bdsporteurope.com.

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