The COVID-19 pandemic brought about significant changes in the sports world last year. The most prominent of all was bringing live sporting events to an abrupt halt.
In 2021, sports are slowly resuming, and sports events are taking place around the world. Take the ongoing Tokyo Olympics 2021, for instance. However, there is something different this time: the in-stadium fan experience is missing. Fans are hardly seen in stadiums, and as a result, stadium attendance is also stagnant.
So, what happened to the in-stadium fan experience? Is it missing because of the pandemic? Or is there any other reason? Let’s find out:
There’s no denying that many sports fans love to watch their games in the stadium, just like old times. They are ready to buy tickets, stand in line, and cheer for their team.
But ever since digital technology entered the picture, things have changed for the sports world. Now, many fans have built a “digital nest” at home with big TV screens, surround sound systems, and 24/7 sports channel subscriptions.
Many fans also like to watch their favorite games on the go using their mobile devices or stay updated through social media and live sports updates — to say the least.
Even a survey by Deloitte, Digital Media Trends, highlights that people have plenty of entertainment at their fingertips now, preventing them from showing up at sports venues.
So, it wouldn’t be unwise to say that digital technology has unsettled the role of sports venues in American lives and transformed fan experience. It also forces stadium owners and managers to up their services and infrastructure to provide a better in-stadium fan experience.
Even though digital transformation and the availability of entertainment at fingertips ignited the change in in-stadium fan experience, the COVID-19 pandemic sped it up and made sports venues witness complete silence in the stands.
The lockdown imposed last year and CDC guidelines to curb the spread of the virus, which also included social distancing, in conjunction with hesitation among fans led to the sudden downfall of the in-stadium fan experience. And no one is quite sure how long the current scenario will remain as it is. But one thing is certain: sports businesses and managers will need to do everything possible to make fans eventually return to the stands.
What can sports businesses do to offer a never-before fan experience?
Getting fans to the stands will require many steps to make them feel at home. And if these steps are not followed religiously, it can tarnish the fan experience you offer.
For most fans, a good fan experience post-pandemic will include some factors. First, they want stadiums to be safe, clean, and comfortable. Secondly, the view from the seat should be up to their expectations — they want to experience high-quality games. And lastly, they want a cheerful, positive stadium atmosphere.
But the factors aren’t all — there are basic factors as well. They include the cost of tickets and concession quality. Besides, navigation in the venue has its place in making or breaking the fan experience. Meeting these basics is crucial, but it will hardly guarantee a fan experience so exceptional that fans will choose to watch the game in the stands rather than at home or elsewhere.
As a sports business relying on sports venues for revenue, your aim should be to make fans leave the comfort and convenience of their home. Your teams will also play a crucial role in encouraging them to do so. Here’s what you can do to deliver a reimagined fan experience:
Let’s be honest: no one likes to stand in long queues for hours to buy a ticket. And your fans are no different. Most people prefer watching games at home to in stadiums because of the time they have to spend on buying tickets. This is specifically applicable in developing countries where it is not easy to buy tickets online and many supporters still buy tickets outside the stadium.
Sports businesses can launch their application that enables Fans to book a ticket and a preferred seating in a few simple taps. Next, these applications should also allow them to download tickets to their smartphones and then use e-ticket to enter the venue.
For a far better experience, the apps should also update fans on upcoming events, news, information about the venue, seat occupancy, and all other things that make the fan experience smooth and seamless.
Perhaps the most challenging part of going to stadiums is the transit. And it’s time stadium managers stop assuming that fans will battle traffic to get to the venue. Instead, they should work towards making the transportation to the venue and navigation inside it less hectic and tiresome. They can do so by working with on-demand transportation services, public transit systems, and companies that develop autonomous buses. This is especially necessary if your venue is outside a city.
More and more sports managers are now realizing that there are more pre-gaming options than a couple of drinks in the parking lot or lunch at their restaurants before the game.
A few developments have also started providing housing and access to in-venue casinos, retail space, luxurious hotels, spas, bars, and more, to the ticket holders, so that they can have the best experience possible. And it’s time you offer something as well to put your fans at ease.
The road to delivering an exceptional fan experience will now begin with putting fans at the center. And to do that, you will need to first get into their shoes and understand their needs and wants. You can do this with the help of solutions that optimize the fan experience. But make sure you take immediate action on the feedback and follow the steps that make a good fan experience.
If you are looking for a fan experience management and feedback collection platform, feel free to contact us.