QR Codes, NFC Tags, and Beacons for sports stadiums
Last Updated:  April 16, 2021
The ancient Greeks built the world’s first stadium in the 8th century. It was a giant-U structure with single tracks and sand stands for the audience. However, it was the center of attraction in Olympia for ages.
Much has changed since that day; the simple tracks have transformed into well-designed mega-structures. The largest surviving greek stadium, the Panathenaic stadium can house 45,000; today’s stadiums can accommodate more than one hundred thousand fans. The abundance of entertainment options has stagnated stadium attendance. They are not the center of attraction anymore.
This is primarily because consumers have many ways to stay updated with the game. They can stream live games directly on their smartphones or get match stats through Google.
This has made delivering better consumer experience to fans a top priority for personnel in charge of expanding attendance and increasing revenues. From more accessible ticketing systems to better facilities, sports stadium businesses are adopting technology-driven ways to attract audiences.
Beacons enable stadiums to market location-based services to fans and operations staff. Strategically installed beacons in a stadium can broadcast promotional offers that upsell seats through a stadium mobile app. Stadium operations staff can manage the crowd at food-stalls by informing fans about shorter queues.
With the help of beacons, stadiums can design the buyer’s journey from personalized welcome greetings to navigating different stadium facilities. Beacons can be placed in strategic locations to help fans navigate their way in the stadium.
With a beacon powered mobile app, the possibilities are endless, the Orlando Magic, an NBA team, reported an increase in app adoption by 30% with beacon-triggered notifications. Sports stadiums can differentiate themselves using a range of features such as seating maps, market official merchandise, and other collectibles. The combination of beacons and a mobile app opens up many revenue streams for businesses. It establishes a direct connection with the consumers and makes marketing campaigns more targeted.
Promotional offers on food and beverages, marketing future events or tracking tickets, QR codes have many use-cases for marketing stadium services.
Sports stadiums can create customized QR codes that create recall value for stadium brands. They can add their logo, change colors, and customize the core elements such as position markers, eyes. Prominent locations embedded with dynamic QR codes can redirect to the latest marketing campaigns with every game.
Improving fan experience at sporting events
QR code vending machines for unlimited drinks
Draftserv is increasing the speed and efficiency of services for stadiums. The food vendor is a vending machine partner for stadiums such as the Bank of America Stadium. A Draftserv vending machine offers unlimited drinks at $8. Customers that buy this drink get a QR code printed collectible cups that can be refilled any number of times. The vending machine scans QR codes and refills glasses and. It tracks which drink is sold the most and plans future inventory based on consumer trends.
Apart from easing the vending process for consumers, Draftserv also provides crucial inputs in consumer buying behaviors. This data can be utilized to design marketing campaigns and leverage consumer preference data-points to provide better beverage experiences.
The SanFrancisco 49ers have developed their own QR based ticket scanning system for the Levi’s Stadium. The system called Kezar works with the Levi’s Stadium mobile app and offers a personalized fan experience. The app allows fans to use their smartphones as tickets and parking pass. There are numerous Kezar booths installed at every entry point. Fans can scan their ticket QR codes through any of the Kezar units which can scan both the new in-app ticket QR codes and traditional barcodes on print tickets.
The Kezar system personalizes the experience by using a fan’s first name in greeting messages. It also maintains personal stats such as the number of games visited and purchase history. This access control system prevents counterfeiting of tickets.
The team and the stadium plans to use Levi’s mobile app and Kezar to provide fun experiences that increase fan loyalty towards the team and the stadium. From interacting with players to accessing all-inclusive clubs and restaurants. With the help of technologies such as QR codes, the 49ers are focused on providing consumer experiences that differentiate them.
Swipestation, a UK based mobile app start-up is solving the age-old problem of long half-time queues to get food. Fans can order food, pay for them, and pick-up their goods from fast-lane booths dedicated to SwipeStation users. This system operates without an internet connection, a problem for many stadiums. Orders can be picked up in less than 15 seconds by scanning a QR code in the fast-lane booths.
SwipeStation provides deep insights into the buying patterns of consumers, allowing managers to devise effective marketing campaigns to upsell, cross-sell, and resell different product combinations. For fans, SwipeStation is a life-saver app that reduces the time taken in ordering and getting your food during half-times.
Getting food and beverages during the game used to be a struggle for fans because of the never-ending queues.NFC replaced slow cash registers at point of sales. The move considerably reduced the hassle of getting food and beverages and made Superbowl 50 a significant success.
Major League Baseball (MLB) did a pilot with the Oakland Athletics of an NFC based contactless ticketing system. The Oakland Athletics were the first to use text messages for marketing back in 2007 and they were the first ones to introduce NFC enabled ticketing system with this pilot. In a pilot that lasted for six homestand games, iPhone and Apple Watch owners could enter the stadiums by merely tapping their smartphones at the entry gates. MLB is working with other teams to deploy this technology everywhere.
NFC to authenticate and track sports memorabilia
A former Dallas Cowboys star Emmitt Smith founded a start-up that deploys stamp-sized NFC chips that track when an item is worn in a game. The smart tags from PROVA is a step towards curbing NFL property theft.
The PROVA NFC smart-tags act as a method of authentication. Collectors can tap and get information such as the date of use, the match score, and player name.
Beacons for the Orlando Magic team mobile app
The Orlando Magic were the first team to adopt beacons for engagement and interaction with the fans. The iBeacon provided fans the ability to access their tickets, upgrade their seats, and receive notifications on special offers for the game — approximately 20 beacons placed at strategic locations in the Amway Center. Once fans registered on the Orlando Magic mobile app, they received instructions on how to bypass long lines, offers on food, beverages, and retail.
The Orlando Magic saw a $1 million increase in ticket sales and a 233% increase in Fast break pass sales for the season. The lethal combination of iBeacons and the mobile app sold more than 80% season tickets through the app.
Upon opting-in to receive notifications, fans got special offers at the Cavaliers Team shop and partner locations all over the city. The mobile app gave regular location-based updates that enhance the game experience by offering exclusive content, promotional incentives, and giveaways to fans.
Why technology-first sports stadiums are the future
From observers to tech-savvy consumers, the way consumers interact with sports has changed.
Consumers today buy experiences. Sports stadiums are a social venue; they host concerts and several public events. They cater to a vast consumer segment that is spoilt for choices online today. Smart stadiums today are an integral part of communities.
Consumer experience or ‘the fan experience’ is a driving force for sports stadium business. Reviews, social-media mentions, viral-hashtags, and fan videos online are crucial to ensuring selling out future events. The increase in competition, along with consumer factors, point to the need for stadiums to invest in venue-technology that enhances the fan experience.
Leverage technologies that augment fan experiences to a whole new level. Schedule a demo and explore the possibilities that these technologies offer.