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Sports teams are raising the bar for customer experience

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Here’s how the sports industry is embracing technology to improve fan and audience experiences and increase the bottom line.

New technologies offer opportunities to engage and fully immerse customers in personalised experiences, and the recent Olympics and Paralympics raised the bar for businesses of all shapes and sizes.


Sports teams, brands and organisers used new social, mobile and cloud technologies to move global spectators from passive viewers to interactive participants, fully immersed and entertained.


So just what is an ‘immersive’ customer experience? Nick Lowe, managing director of digital production agency Satellite Media, says it’s one where you add value to someone’s day by taking them on a journey to inform or entertain.


“It’s providing something they’ve never seen before or making an existing experience just that little bit easier,” says Nick. “Immersive experiences or ‘activations’ make people stop and take notice, perhaps forgetting about their worries for a moment, and taking the time to go on a journey.”


The sports industry is leading the charge in revamping engagement strategies to make sports more accessible to a wider range of fans and tap into new geographic and demographic groups.


The reason is simple: by engaging with fans in more personal ways and attracting more followers and attendees to events, sports teams can boost revenues for greater growth and expansion and to attract top talent.


Teams are also making it easier and more affordable to be a fan. Attending an on-site sporting event can be pricey and not every fan can make it. New technology enables people to connect over multiple devices – often watching games live on their mobiles or a big-screen TV while streaming live commentary on their computers.


Here are some of the ways the sports industry is changing experiences for spectators in the stadium, and fans at home and ‘on the go’:


Technology is dramatically changing the design and functionality of sports stadiums


Live experience platforms

Brands are taking advantage of technology to develop interactive apps that create a streamlined, fun and engaging delegate experience.


Here in New Zealand, Satellite Media created a mobile game for ASB at the ASB Classic tennis tournament that let attendees play along in real time on their own phone.


“We had most of the attendees using their phones to play a quiz game which ran in sync with the big screens at the venue during the breaks between matches,” says Nick.


Satellite also delivered an interactive running course in Auckland and Wellington for Powerade, called the Powerade Challenge.


“Runners used a smart wristband to register the start and finish of their run on special vending machines placed around the waterfront. This recorded their total run time and let them view and compare their stats.”


Smart stadiums

New smart arenas combine modern architecture, flexible formats and affordable access to help enrich the spectator experience, improve the venue’s utility and drive new revenue streams.


Mobile apps are one of the most efficient and profitable tools to engage and activate fans. Some professional sports teams have apps that let fans find parking spots, purchase premium seat upgrades, check-in and locate their seats, order food and drinks to their seats, find the closest bathroom with the shortest queue, watch high-definition instant replay and close-up videos, and get traffic information and the fastest route home after the game.


The Sacramento Kings’ app serves as the fan’s ticket, social media and chat platform to connect with friends in the arena. The team previously made the news when it became the first professional sports team to accept Bitcoin, and the first to use Google Glass and streaming live aerial drone video to enhance game footage.

Sports Teams are Raising the Bar for Customer Experience

Payment technologies

Audience experiences are being improved by cashless technology that allows users to pay via smartphone, contactless card or even using a wristband.


At the Olympics, Visa provided three new wearables - a watch, bracelet and ring - that used near field technology to let users pay for products and services at 4,000 points-of-sale at the Olympic venues.


Where to start?

Nick says, “Through experiences that entertain or provide access to something useful, a business has the opportunity to connect in a rich way. The experience creates the opportunity for that interaction and, if it’s something good, people remember it, talk to their friends about it and in many cases, will amplify on your behalf.”


When asked about his secret to creating truly immersive customer experiences, Nick says to start with the user in mind and then work your objectives around that.


“Start with finding the right environment to activate - where is the audience you want to reach going to be and how can you connect with them? Once you have a physical opportunity, start with how you could add value in that space.


“Ask yourself what they are there to do, how much time they have, what problems could you solve, and how can you add value to their experience,” he adds.


“Be creative and bold in your thinking and strive to impress people through something really interesting or amazing.”


Want to make your events better for the visitors, the organisers and the brands that are investing to be there? Contact your Spark Client Manager or make an appointment for a call today to see our live experience platform to create a streamlined, innovative and elegant delegate experience.



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