Taking the pain out of sporting venues

“We’re trying to take the pain out of visiting a stadium,” says John Paul, CEO of smart stadium service provider Venue Next in an interview with Robert Scoble.

Scoble as usual gets the better stories than we do as this site’s visit to a smart stadium was somewhat underwhelming. Compared to the Sydney Cricket Ground, Santa Clara’s Levi Stadium is several degrees more advanced – one might suggest a generation ahead.

The Santa Clara stadium has a comprehensive offering with everything from parking, where guests can purchase spaces through the app, and transport integrated and right down to ushers monitoring the restroom queues.

Having one app to control the various feature is a benefit, “we can’t expect people to use multiple apps at a venue.” Paul says and adds the observation that venues can use the gathered intelligence enables the stadium management and concession holders to more efficiently deploy resources.

This is a problem at the SCG where a plethora of agencies and outsourcing deals puts barriers in the way of introducing smart apps, at present a user who wants to check seat availability or buy parking has to deal with different service providers.

One of the big problems facing Australian stadiums are the ticketing agencies where the two major operators – Ticketmaster and Ticketeck – have exclusive deals with the venues that dynamic pricing and upselling is difficult.

Upselling tickets was one of the benefits of the smart stadium cited by Mike Caponigro, Cisco’s head of Global Solutions Marketing for Sports and Entertainment when Decoding the New Economy interviewed him last year.

Having multiple providers with mismatching or inaccessible data sets is going to be a barrier for businesses trying to implement apps like VenueNext and information access is going to be an essential part of subcontracts and outsourcing agreements.

Ultimately this is about making things as easy as possible for the fans. By adding features they are able to spend more money and have an enjoyable time.

What’s notable with the VenueNext applications is the focus on the fans’ experience. By making the services more accessible and reducing the hassles of attending a major event, it’s more likely to attract more spectators.

The sports industry is leading the way on using apps to enhance customers’ experiences, something other industries such as the restaurant or conference sectors can learn from.