The sports world has been quiet for more than a year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. But it has just recently rolled out its comeback, albeit slowly. This means fans will be returning to sports venues, players will be stepping into the arenas, and venue operators will need to start grinding.
With the return of sports, have you thought about what will be the future of fan experience in this new normal?
Though predicting the future of fan experience is almost impossible, we can only anticipate. But whatever it will be like, one thing is certain: it’s going to revolve a lot around the health and safety of fans. According to Research and Markets analysts, the sports analytics industry is expected to reach nearly $4 billion by 2023 as teams, coaches, broadcasters, and rights holders harness data to improve performance and connect with fans.
Let’s just see how the future of fan experience might look like post the pandemic:
As we are about to enter the post-pandemic phase, sports businesses, fans, and athletes are scratching their heads over how to move forward. But the state and national governments have already sent in their policies and procedures on organizing sports events after the pandemic.
It wouldn’t be wrong to anticipate that the new fan experience will be driven by the CDC guidelines, state-enforced parameters, and venue-specific protocols to a great extent. The ultimate goal, therefore, will be to create a safe and welcoming setting for fans while ensuring their overall experience, from arrival to departure, makes them return time and again.
Meeting the expectations of fans in a post-pandemic world will require a lot from venue operators and sports businesses. Even if they foresee what fans will look for when coming to watch a game, they will need to buckle up, for the ride isn’t going to be smooth, but rather bumpy. There is a lot that they need to consider and take care of.
Here are three areas where sports businesses will need to focus on when fans finally return to sports venues sooner or later:
Celebrate and Connect
The return of sports is excellent news for fans. So, it’s the right time for sports businesses to recognize and engage with those excited to return to stands.
Begin with an incentive to show that you and your teams are excited to have them back in the stadium to witness sports like the pre-pandemic times. Gift them a promo code, discount, merchandise, or a ticket deal package. It will help you kickstart your engagement with the fans.
The next step in engaging with your fans is social media. The key is to create enthusiasm among them while maintaining your brand’s authenticity and presence.
You also need to understand that some fans will be against your decision to reopen stadiums for the general public, and you should appreciate their opinions as well. For these fans, you may consider offering a virtual fan experience through live videos, posts, game day walk-throughs, and meet-and-greets via Zoom with players and coaches.
It’s no secret that the televised approach will still have a significant impact on the fan experience. So, you might want to consider providing new camera angles, behind-the-scenes content, and live microphones for the best returns.
Fans returning to stadiums are excited about what the new fan experience will look like, but they are also concerned about their safety and health. They want to know what COVID-19 protocols will be in place, how the spacing will look like, and most importantly, how venue managers will manage traffic during the event. These fears are apparent and should be addressed properly.
Venue operators and stadium owners can use their social media platforms to inform fans about the policies and changes you will have to ensure their safety and ease their fears. Will vaccination be necessary? Will fans need to wear a mask? What will be the seating distance in the stands? Answer these questions through your social media to help your fans know about your preparations for the upcoming events. For example: according to the recent Wimbledon championship, Upon entry to the Grounds, all Ticket Holders required to show certification of a (i) negative COVID-19 lateral flow test result (taken in the 48 hours prior to attending The Championships) These sets of rules are clearly mentioned on their official website.
You can communicate with your fans all you want, but if you are not giving them the means to express their concerns and issues while coming back to the stands, you are adding insult to injury.
As a sports venue owner or operator, you need to understand that fans are hesitant to return to stadiums so soon. But if you provide them with a way through which they can show their concerns and communicate with you, they will have a positive experience and a sense of security.
Again, you can use your social media channels to create polls to learn about what changes they would like to see post the pandemic and how you can create better fan experiences when they do return to your venue. You will also need to use feedback gathering tools and programs to collect feedback from fans who have attended your event. This will help you know if what you have offered is paying off or will you need to implement a new strategy.
The new fan experience will be a lot different than what the sports world had before the pandemic made its appearance. Now, it will be more about the safety and wants of fans rather than providing them action on the field.
To ensure that fans’ expectations of live sports events are met, businesses should pay attention to reducing the waiting time, gathering fans’ feedback on the pricing of products and services, and upgrading their infrastructure to improve the viewing experience.
If you are looking to measure and optimize personalized fan experiences, then Dropthought can certainly help!
Dropthought is a user-friendly, omnichannel, and real-time fan experience management platform. We empower companies in different verticals to create delightful experiences for fans across their journey. Get detailed analysis and insights from data to exactly know what your customers think and what actions you need to take to delight them.
With a dedicated customer success team, we would ensure that you are optimizing your Fan Experience programs and strategies to create great experiences!
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