Venue owners and operators are continuously seeking to identify better ways of working to drive efficiencies, improve and enhance visitor experiences and reduce overheads and are increasingly looking at technology to provide the solutions.
The use of technology in stadiums, arenas and venues of all sizes has accelerated in recent years, driven by accessibility, a reduction in the cost of adoption, improvements in connectivity and to some extent the pandemic.
In this article we look at advances, innovations and technologies that will make a real difference and have the potential to be widely adopted in 2023.
5G Mobile Networks
The continued roll out of 5G networks, and the increasing number of consumers with 5G phones, will open up a wealth of opportunities for stadiums and arenas looking to improve fan experiences, enhance visitor safety and provide new revenue driving opportunities.
With download speeds up to 10 times quicker than 4G the implications are significant. 5G will improve connectivity for fans and allow everyone to access high-speed internet which will make streaming, serving content and accessing real time data faster than ever.
No longer will venue visitors struggle to get internet access, so accessing social media, sharing experiences and viewing live content will become easier, quicker and more prevalent. It will allow for better and more widespread usage of virtual and augmented reality experiences, enhanced live streaming during games and more effective use of the internet of things and smart stadium technology
Virtual and augmented reality
Although VR and AR experiences have been around for years we expect this technology and the introduction of the metaverse to become more widespread in 2023 and beyond. It will enhance the viewing experience for fans and bring immersive experiences to physical places. This could include virtual tours of the stadium, virtual meet and greets with players and even live streaming of games in VR to give a truly immersive experience. It could also allow fans to watch replays from different angles or use AR to get a more in-depth look at the players and their statistics.
At the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, AR technology allows fans to stream holograms of Dallas Cowboys players, take selfies with their idols, access live stats and scoreboards and even play a game that has Cowboys players facing off against robots at half-time.
Other applications include providing an interactive way for every visitor to navigate, by helping them find their seats, join their friends or discover points of interest more easily. It can also provide relevant and useful information at specific location points of a venue to assist visitors at a specific moment.
Smart Stadiums and Internet of Things (IoT)
5G networks can provide the connectivity needed for smart stadium systems, such as sensors and cameras, to work seamlessly together. This could include systems for security, traffic management, and even energy management.
The use cases and benefits of IoT are significant ranging from helping to create better in stadium experiences by engaging and connecting better with fans, helping visitors to find their way more easily, monitoring and recording facility usage, identifying any malfunctions and equipment breakdowns as they happen, monitoring energy usage, tracking and managing visitor flows and understanding visitor behaviour.
Indoor positioning technology and beacons can also be used to provide visitors with real-time information about their location, as well as to help them navigate the arena. This can be especially useful for visitors who are unfamiliar with the arena layout or for those with disabilities.
Smart Seats & Mobile Apps
Some stadiums are experimenting with smart seats that have built-in speakers and screens. This would allow fans to watch replays or highlights in real-time, or even order food and drinks directly from their seats.
Although there is nothing new about mobile Apps, the advent of 5G makes them more workable in a stadium context and if smart seats aren’t an option then visitors can do much of the same via an App. To avoid queues and large groups gathering, in-seat ordering via apps is gaining popularity and is frequently used in US stadiums. It allows spectators to either collect their food, drink or merchandise from pick-up points, or even order straight to their seat – the ultimate convenience.
Visitors can then also purchase tickets, view schedules, and access exclusive content, such as voting for their player of the match, watching multi-angle replays, and collecting loyalty points to use for discounts in the future. These apps can also be used to provide real-time information about parking, concessions and other amenities.
Biometrics, RFID and Wearable Technology
Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) or ‘contactless’ technology will continue to be adopted more widely in stadiums and arenas to improve the fan experience. RFID-enabled wristbands or cards can be used for contactless payments, as well as to access exclusive areas of the stadium or to receive discounts on food and merchandise. Such technology helps to keep lines and crowding to a minimum, can help with monitoring of visitor flows and visitor behaviour and can help ensure a more secure environment by reducing potential fraud, controlling access to certain areas and by making processes more streamlined, such as checking in or exchanging contact information.
In addition we expect biometric technology, such as facial recognition and fingerprint scanning to become more widespread over the coming year to improve security and speed up entry times. Additionally, this technology could be used to create personalised experiences for fans, such as allowing them to enter exclusive areas or receive discounts on merchandise.
Used properly the aggregated data and analytics garnered from deploying wearable tech can provide valuable insights and intelligence not only in real time but also post event, which can help to make the operation more effective and efficient going forward.
This location-based technology essentially creates a virtual ‘fence’ around a specific geographical location, which could be a stadium, arena, exhibition centre, theme park or any other venue.
Attendees entering the geofenced area and location points within a venue can then trigger specific actions, such as an event check-in, push notifications, or advertising related to the event via their smart phone.
From an operational perspective this can be useful to allow for seamless registration and check in, along with automatic app downloads once they are on site. But the geofencing technology can also be used to send information and also marketing messages, so provides an additional revenue opportunity.
Once again aggregated data and analytics can be extracted from this technology which can be used to understand stats such as average attendance or dwell time.
Venue Management Software
There are a number of venue and event management platforms available in the market now that provide robust and effective solutions to help manage and run day to day operations. The general focus is to automate existing manual processes, ensure all team members have easy access to all relevant information thus providing greater transparency and reporting to streamline the operation.
VenuePro is one such global technology platform that simplifies the management and operation of venues and events. It’s made up of 21 distinct modules which together create a powerful end-to-end platform. But clients can also select individual modules that are relevant to their operation, to create a tailored solution that fits their specific requirements.
The platform aims to ease the pain points, solves the issues and overcome the challenges that venue operators face on a daily basis to help deliver a more effective and efficient operation.
The aim of stadium or arena based technology is to enhance visitor experiences, improve security and safety, streamline and automate existing processes and make the overall event day experience more efficient and engaging for all involved.
The costs of such technologies are now affordable and accessible for venues of all sizes and can provide fans with faster and more reliable connectivity, enable new and immersive experiences, improve fan engagement and provide new opportunities for monetisation.
By implementing these technologies, arenas can improve the overall visitor experience by providing real-time information, engaging visitors, and creating personalised experiences.
To find out more and see how VenuePro can help your operation please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org