Reopening is constantly on everyone’s mind. Leagues have opened with and without fans, bubbled, and not. Ultimately the goal is to get back to a full-fan experience. Different sports teams and leagues have prepared for the short and long-term in-venue experience with fans, as well as the blending of the digital at-home experience.
Christi Bedan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tim Clark of NASCAR, and Don White of Satisfi Labs recently joined Front Office Sports to discuss a reopening strategy & planning (as well as the communication of those plans), fan-experience best practices, new industry trends, and the lasting impact COVID will have on the in-person experience for sports.
On Satisfi Labs’ place in the market (0:51)
White: “We produce an interactive answer engine. It’s a product that answers questions and, and provides a real asset for the fan to get all digital media by the initial search. So that brands like NASCAR and Tampa can have a one-to-one relationship with a fan about anything from scheduled scores, ticketing, food, and beverage, when appropriate and really own that relationship.”
On questions NFL fans ask of the Buccaneers (4:00)
Bedan: “We were open at a limited capacity and I think in bringing fans back, the role of digital in particular is very much two-fold. One, how are you communicating to fans at scale what the new policies are and what the reopening looks like? And then two, once you’re at the stadium, how do you make people feel more comfortable and use technology to minimize interactions for fans, especially in a COVID world? So everything from mobile ticketing to communication, to mobile ordering, what is all that technology that you can implement in a reopening strategy?”
Creating efficiencies in the fan experience process (20:01)
Bedan: “I’ll start with the, the AI piece that we’ve been talking about. So we originally had sort of that in-app hub to ask questions with a general answer base. And what we’ve done this year is expanded both into our digital ticketing guide and then Apple business chat…I think the digital ticketing guide in particular was important because not only this year, did we have new new policies in general, but we went to 100% mobile ticketing…So there was a big learning curve for a lot of people who had never used mobile to enter the stadium for the first time. So investing in that digital ticketing guide has been super helpful as we can see from the numbers, the usage of that is significant.”
On opportunities for virtual hospitality for fans (42:37)
Clark: “It’s hard to multitask in the virtual world, right? If you think of your traditional hospitality environment, there’s a very social element to it. Whether it’s within a suite or whether it’s tailgating or whatever the case may be, there are different experiences that you can offer in a relatively small footprint. I think it’s really hard to replicate that in a virtual environment because you want to engage your most valuable partners, but you also want to add value to the sponsors whether that’s data acquisition or information capture, whatever the case may be. I just think it’s really hard to replicate that in a virtual environment, which seems counterintuitive because I think everyone kind of seamlessly jumped from having meetings in person to you know, doing them virtually over Zoom. The reflex is to think that that’s how you could, maybe reinvent the hospitality experience. But I don’t think it’s that easy. I think it’s more nuanced.”