Wi-Fi technology, combined with an advanced mobile App and a data platform helps transform venues into powerful marketing channels that improve customer insights for the smart stadium.
By Didier Plateau, CEO, UCOPIA
By 2020, 95% of consumers in Europe will have a smartphone-based mobile subscription plan, and our digital economy has already unveiled new patterns in how we interact with cultural events and entertainment shows. Stadiums, the modern temples that drive human passion, are no exception to the rule. To welcome fans looking for an “always-on” experience, stadiums need to rethink their IT infrastructures and support a new set of requirements.
The Euro 2016 football tournament proved a great example of a major sporting event that capitalized with thumping success on the latest digital technologies. The Stade de France, THE legendary stage for high-profile events, and the very first connected smart stadium in France, designed a high-density Wi-Fi infrastructure capable of scaling up to 20,000 simultaneous sessions. This is the number of attendees that can share their content in real time, while living real and virtual experiences to their fullest extent.
Indeed, this smart stadium delivers the infrastructure that enables a crowd to voice their emotions and excitement. Attendees to a sport or cultural event crave for an outstanding experience. They expect to interact with the event in real time by sharing feelings and comments on social networks, or watch replays of a game during the half-time break. And they simply do not want to miss anything or be deprived of anything. The stadium must be able to offer first-class services and infrastructure so that they can comfortably express their emotions. Tomorrow’s stadium is bound to be a smart stadium, where technology transforms the venue and the show. Pioneering services will be delivered to attendees to bolster their experience and make it more immersive, taking them right to the heart of the action.
Here are the four key innovations of a smart and connected stadium:
- A high-density (HD) Wi-Fi network
The first step for making a stadium smarter is to roll out a HD Wi-Fi infrastructure that supports thousands of users across multifarious profiles and devices, while ensuring top-notch performance and limitless experience. Such a reliable and secured network must provide fans with fast and seamless access to any available content, such as game stats, with the motive to engage with users and build up loyalty. During the event, users are able to share their experiences on social networks and recap the highlights of the event in replay: such features are actually considered as essential for 30% of attendees!
- A mobile app branded to the colors of the stadium and organizers
Visitors who arrive at a stadium need to find their way to their seats, or be able to easily walk to food and shopping areas during the half-time break. In a smart stadium, the experience starts even before the event kicks off. Backed by broadband Internet, a captive portal fully branded to the colors of the stadium and the event organizers, provides access to the Internet, while a menu lets users navigate across all available services, right from the palm of their hand: their smartphone. During the half-time break, the app helps shorten waiting time at food outlets, since users can view the food menu and place their orders right from their seats.
- Geolocation: the power of digital
Geolocation offers obvious benefits to users and brands. A coupon-based offering, promoted by online notifications and through various technologies such as Beacons or Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS), is a great way to catch users’ attention. Furthermore, by geotagging attendees and tracking their movements, the stadium can better understand their needs and interact with them in a smart way: invite early birds to private events, redirect the crowd to less jammed exits, or retrieve attendees’ comments or suggestions regarding the event.
- Wi-Fi Marketing: a powerful data platform
Digitization helps connected stadiums expand their impact zone, or reach out to an audience that they know better, even after the crowd has departed! Wi-Fi Marketing is a great way to monetize an audience, by collecting activity-based data: How many unique visitors? What is the average duration of a session? What are the user profiles (age range, gender…)? What is each profile interested in? Such data helps stadiums improve their communication programs by delivering tailor-made, real-time messages to online users. Targeted marketing actions can also be implemented leveraging contests and quizzes, while customer loyalty can be encouraged by providing information on upcoming events (video peeks of such events, advertising banner for subscription plans …). These are all great ways to encourage repeat business and bolster an event’s occupancy rate.
As a profit center, a stadium can turn into a great promotional and marketing vehicle for organizers and sponsors. By combining geolocation, real-time content, advertising, couponing and advanced user-centric data analytics, venues such as stadiums can better engage with users to improve their overall experience. Yet, digitization can be successfully carried out only if supported by a data-oriented culture and customer-oriented analytics.
Attendees are now spoilt for choice with a tantalizing array of sport content and delivery of undiluted entertainment. These arenas are well on the way to bringing masses of TV viewers to where the flesh-and-blood action is: the Smart Stadiums.