How Stadiums can use Beacons to Enhance Fans’ Experiences
June 30, 2014
The power of beacons lies in its ability to connect the real world, the brick-and-mortar world, with the virtual world with a level of granularity that hasn’t existed before.Though the first few beacon applications are largely related to retail, public spaces such as stadiums, theme parks, museums etc, are already tapping into beacon’s micro-location capabilities to deliver specifically targeted personalized messages, alerts and more on mobile devices.For a sports fan, this new technology points towards a unique experience that brings the stadium to life by sending them location-driven special offers and promotions for concessions.
Also, if you are just exploring beacon implementation, our Beacon 101 ebook is a good place to start reading about this technology, where we’ve recorded our learnings from implementing Beaconstac.
In this post, we will discuss in detail about how beacons can revolutionize fans’ experience at stadiums.
How stadiums can put beacons to use:
1. Seat finding and seat upgradation
Considering the enormous size of stadiums, it is quite common for visitors to lose their way while trying to locate their seats. Though GPS and Wi-Fi have helped solve the problem of finding items in a store, they don’t really work well in spaces where internet availability is not assured.
iBeacon technology is the perfect solution to this problem. By installing beacons at critical locations around and inside the stadium, fans could easily be guided to their seats. You could also truly personalize the message based on when one enters a stadium. For example, if a fan is one of the firsts to enter, they could be offered a chance to “watch a little batting practice on the field”.
The precise mapping capabilities of the Bluetooth transmitters mean fans can be directed to their seats quickly. This solution does not rely on people having an internet connection, the only thing they need is a smartphone and the app of the stadium they are visiting.
Also, a lot of games have been struggling to fill better seats due to increased pre-game cost. They can use beacons in their venue to target people who are waiting in line to go up to cheaper seats and offer them discounted upgrades to better seating. Leveraging beacons allows a team to catch fans at the exact time and place that they’re most likely to want to pay for an upgrade and a better experience.
Most games have the problem that there is only one break during a game and that means thousands of people having to buy a drink within a duration of 10-15 minutes. While some people will reach the refreshment kiosk that’s ‘just around the corner’ that is completely deserted, others will end up at one that already has a waiting long queue.
This problem could be solved with beacons, because if you would place a beacon next to these kiosks you could simply register how many people that have the app are close to it. Make this information available to fans in the app and distribute fans evenly across the stadium. This will result in a higher efficiency of the stadiums’ resources and a better experience for the fans.
3. Promotions, offers and loyalty programs
Your stadium can have a one-time visitor who doesn’t know the way through the stadium, or a passionate fan that has never missed a match. Both kinds of fans would like to be treated uniquely. To achieve this your mobile app has to work closely with your loyalty management system and also have details about a particular fan’s location inside the stadium.
Beacon technology clubbed with an app is the solution. You could register how many times a fan has been in the range of a specific beacon and assign different notifications to the frequency and number of times the visitor has been there.
If it’s their first game, you could offer a discount on future tickets, a frequent visitor could be rewarded for his loyalty with a beer at the pub he prefers. This technology would allow retailers to offer frequent-shopper discounts too, based on the number of visits.
4. Sell merchandise
iBeacons have the potential for creating additional revenue for ballparks via mobile-based sales of merchandise or food. You can use beacons to alert fans about arrival of new jerseys and gear they can directly buy on their phone and pick up from the stadium’s pro shop. Ballparks can also offer an option of delivering merchandise right at the their seats.
5. Future implementations
Thinking beyond these, a social element could be introduced. A group of friends could choose to form a network, so that, for example, they can find each other easily among the many thousands of people in a stadium. ‘Find your friends’ could span both real and virtual worlds. A competitive/gaming element could be introduced (who has attended the most games, seen the most home runs) with the potential for a highly evolved secondary experience, based on an existing social network like Foursquare or Facebook, or on an entirely different platform.
Real-life examples of beacon implementation in stadiums:
1. Major League Baseball stadium (MLB) uses iBeacons to enhance stadium experience
MLB recently worked with Apple to integrate the iBeacon indoor mapping technology in iOS 7 to customize its ‘At the Ballpark’ app in order to provide app users with an interactive game watching experience at the stadium. MLB has installed iBeacons at 20 ballparks around the U.S. to offer spectators using iOS relevant contextual information during the 2014 MLB season.
Image Courtesy: idownloadblog.com
For example, when a user loads the app on his way to the stadium, it immediately identifies the stadium he is enroute to and starts populating information specific to that one. Once he is near the entrance, it displays the barcode of his ticket and directs him to his seat via a map while highlighting the nearby points of interest. If he had purchased his tickets online using Apple Passbook, the app even pulls them up automatically.
Image Courtesy: appleinsider.com
It also grants him other benefits by offering directions to the shortest lines, both at the entrance and when he is at the concession line trying to purchase a hot dog. The stadium uses iBeacons to send out coupons and promotions for nearby vendors. It also allows teams to track the visits made by their fans thus enabling them to reward fans with special coupons and discounts for their frequent visits.
Some of the features the app offers are:
-Check in for ballpark offers and rewards
-Interactive concourse maps and directory
-Social media integration
-Customize to feature a designated favorite MLB ballpark
-Team schedule, ticket information and sales and promotional event listings
-Access to food and beverage ordering available at select parks
-Directions and parking information
-A to Z Guides for every ballpark
-My Journal: Personalized check-in history for ballparks visited
2. National Football League (NFL) leveraged beacons to deliver personalized ads at MetLife Stadium and Times Square for the Super Bowl
Image Courtesy: idownloadblog.com
NFL recently leveraged beacons to make a big push into geo-targeted mobile advertisements at the Super Bowl, one of America’s most watched sports event every year. They initially installed beacons at the MetLife Stadium and New York’s Times Square where the game was being played and used the NFL’s mobile app to send notifications and personalized ads to reach out to potential shoppers during the big game. The location-based notifications sent by these beacons contain messages directing users to merchandise, NFL exhibits, and shorter concessions lines.
3. Golden State Warriors bring proximity technology to Oracle Arena
In an effort to continually evolve and enhance fan experience through the use of cutting edge technology, the Warriors found a unique and sophisticated solution partner in the proximity technology. They use the technology – which is integrated into the Warriors official mobile app for both iOS and Android devices – to enhance the overall fan experience at Oracle Arena. The content deliveries are varied and include potential use cases such as seat upgrade notifications, welcome messages, exclusive content, in-arena offers and more.
Oracle Arena iBeacons also provide a parking map and a “View Traffic” function that shows live traffic conditions in the sports venue’s immediate area. This use of the beacon system will benefit even those who are not attending the game, since it will distribute vehicular traffic near the Arena more rationally and lessen the chance of traffic jams. Other sections provide articles on an “E-Magazine” and a “Fan Photos” section.
Thus, iBeacons provide “micro-location” information for fans who opt in, allowing to enhance and personalize each fan’s experience the moment they enter the stadium. Through this technology, it provides stadiums the ability to meet each fan’s individual needs and understand their unique footprint, customizing specific opportunities and experiences for each fan. It’s a win-win for teams and fans alike.
If you are planning a beacon pilot, take a look at Beaconstac, that includes everything you need to get started. Using Beaconstac you can set up your own campaign, without a developer’s help!