Your VIP Experience Sucks?This is why:
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A complete guide on what’s needed to revolutionize and create an unforgettable, WOW in-stadium VIP experience for your fans
- The VIP experiences in sports venues have remained largely UNCHANGED in the last 40 years.
- In 2022 fans expect immersive, personalized and rich in-stadium experiences.
- Some US sports properties are already providing state of the art fan experience and are creating new revenue streams through this.
- A complete in-stadium VIP guide, showcasing 8 must have topics, at the reach of your hands, to provide a WOW experience to your fans
Innovation should be provided for EVERY sports fan – When advising sports brands implementing new technologies in their venues, I suggest starting with the VIP section, as it allows you to explore a smaller audience. That said, the innovations featured in this article could and should be aimed at every sports fan out there and while this article focuses on Football examples, the content is catered and relevant to all sports VIP experiences.
MY RECENT PREMIER LEAGUE VIP EXPERIENCE:
A few weeks ago, I was invited to a Premier League Football game on the opening day of the season. I had the honor of being hosted by the club’s chairman, and both my kid and I had a good time. We got to walk on the pitch before the game started and then joined the chairman in the VIP area.
All in all, it was a nice afternoon, but something was missing…
I wondered to myself, “What’s the difference between this experience and the one I had with my father over 40 years ago?”. The first difference is that I never had the VIP experience with my father, but if I would have I believe it would have looked something like this image…
My kid and I regularly watch Premier League football at home on TV, and when we do, we get given information about goalscoring stats, the head-to-head record of the teams involved, live replays and much more. When mixed together with punditry from ex-players, it makes for a more immersive and seamless experience.
Isn’t it crazy that we didn’t feel as connected when we were in the stadium, right next to the action? I realized that aside from the tasty food at the start of the experience – NOTHING HAS CHANGED. It’s at this point that it came to me – “Stadium VIP fans should feel like there’s no better way to enjoy the game, anywhere!”
THE FULL IN-STADIUM VIP EXPERIENCE GUIDE:
As a sports tech enthusiast and someone who works with innovating companies within the field on a daily basis, it would be sacrilege for me to raise a problem like this one without offering a comprehensive guide packed with solutions.
Join me as I walk you through 8 elements that every sports property should apply to their VIP section. I believe that only by implementing the following measures can a truly world-class fan experience be offered.
Let’s start by setting the scene. You’re part of a vibrant group of sports fans walking up to the stadium. The excitement builds as you approach the turnstiles, you get your precious digital tickets ready, and a memorable afternoon is about to begin…
Element #1 – Personalized Recognition – Your VIP Audience Deserves an Exclusive, Personal Welcome
You enter the stadium with your loved ones, and as your tickets are scanned, you each receive a digitized welcome message from your favorite player. Instantly, you feel a part of the action and exactly like a VIP. Wow, right?
It gets better…
Your favorite drink is served to you as you go upstairs, with every staff member recognizing you by name. You get a warm welcome that sets the scene and it almost feels like everything on show is for you! “Here is your chardonnay, Amir”. What better way to start?
Everyone has one place that they keep returning to because of how welcome and ‘at home’ they feel there. Features like these help to create a loyal fanbase that can’t wait to return for more of the same.
All that said, what can’t be forgotten is that many fans going to the game will be taking their children – which means lots of GenZ-ers that need to be catered for. In the run-up to the game, extra entertainment options can make all the difference…
Element #2 – Exergaming Zones – Keeping GenZ-ers Entertained
What would you say is one of the defining characteristics of young people (10 to 25-year-olds) belonging to GenZ? That’s right, they’re constantly on their mobile phones, and they demand entertainment wherever they are and whatever they’re doing.
Here’s how you can cater to their needs…
“You arrive 30 minutes before the game starts, and on the way to your seats, your kids are excited and bursting with energy. They want to warm up for the game, and they notice your new Exergaming Zone that offers multiple pre-game entertainment options.
Here, GenZ-ers can continue building their excitement right to kick-off time, keeping themselves fully entertained in the minutes leading up to the match.
This creates a strong connection in these young sports fans (and their parents) that this place to be on game day, reinforcing your brand in their minds”.
GenZ-ers love gadgets and will love the features talked about in our next topic that focuses on technology that lets you get an exclusive view of proceedings from the moment you arrive at your stadium seats…
Element #3 – Customized Second Screen Devices – Offer an Exclusive view of the action.
Being a VIP is all about feeling like one, which means getting an enhanced experience that others don’t. So, what better way to embody this than to offer an exclusive view of the action, as well as features that add an extra dimension to proceedings as they unfold?
The scenario might play out something like this…
“You finally arrive at your stadium seats, and looking in front of you, you notice that you have a customized screen with many features you can scroll through. Features include things like body-cam views of player warm-ups that only in-stadium fans can see, as well as live commentary available in your preferred language.
This is complemented by personalized replays and match highlights created especially for you during the game. The result is an experience that offers an edge over the one your friends are getting as they watch at home”.
You don’t have to be a younger fan, however, to enjoy what in-game technology can do for the spectator. Gamification can take watching sports to the next level, as we see in our next topic which talks about real-time interactive fun for all.
Element #4 – Gamified Engagement Predictions – Fans Get to Feel Like They Involved In the Action
As any avid sports fan will attest to, predicting events as they unfold is fun and makes you feel closer to action on the pitch. So, what if you could gamify the spectator experience using the all-purpose second screens available in your VIP area? It would really add to the enjoyment.
Check this out…
“Moments before the game starts, a notification appears, asking for predictions like:
“Which team do you think will win the game?”
“Which player do you think will score the first goal?”
“Who do you think will be the man of the match?
Whatever your personal feelings are about the game in question, you can’t help but feel more excited and connected with the game in front of you. Moreover, if the stadium owner offers a memorable prize for guessing correctly, the excitement can reach fever pitch for the participants.
Implementing these small yet impactful features will help to create a sense of a live community, with fans feeling connected throughout your sporting event.
Interactive screen technologies can provide a more memorable and enjoyable time for any sports fan, but a one-of-a-kind experience is available when you consider cutting-edge tech like Extended Reality (XR).
Element #5 – XR Experiences – Bringing The XR Future into your Stadium
Leveraging the technologies of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), Extended Reality is something that can greatly enhance the spectator experience. Overlaying images, useful information and more, viewers get an altogether more immersive experience.
Here’s what a difference it can make…
“It’s show time! The players are waiting patiently in the tunnel, and the stadium lights turn off suddenly. The crowd sings louder than you’ve ever heard and the electric atmosphere is made even more enjoyable thanks to an immersive pregame show offered via Extended Reality.
All that’s required to access it is to take out your mobile phone, turn the camera on and point it towards the field. You’re then met with a stunning view of your team’s hologram followed by an unforgettable XR experience”.
This is true innovation at work and it offers exclusive abilities that can’t even be enjoyed by viewers at home. That’s the hallmark of a true VIP sporting experience.
While Premier League football games are much shorter than those played in the NFL – only lasting for 90 minutes – as a fan, you may spend up to 3-4 hours in the stadium. That means you’ll want food & drink at some point, but how to avoid missing any of the action when the time comes…
Element #6 – In-seat food & beverage delivery – No more having to ignore hunger until half-time!
An experience any regular sports-watching fan will know all too well is missing important action on the field when fetching refreshments. In games like Football, a trip to the concourse for a hot dog and a drink can result in you missing the game’s most important moment.
Not so when you’re made to feel like a VIP…
“20 minutes into the first half of the game, the atmosphere is amazing, but your kids were too busy at the Exergaming Zone to get food & drinks before the game. They’re complaining about being hungry, but you don’t want to miss any of the action.
With just a few taps on the screen of your second device, you’ve placed your food & drink order and moments later your fresh hotdogs arrive at your stadium seats. No long queues. No crucial moments missed and no enjoyment spoiled”.
While this is a small change, it greatly improves the fan experience and simultaneously increases your operational sales during the game.
As well as enjoying tasty food and drink at the game, fans love to purchase keepsakes to remind them of their amazing day. Usually, you might buy a football shirt at the club shop on the way to the game, but what if it was possible even during a match?…
Element #7 – Easy access Merchandise – Maximizing Sales When Fans Are Most Engaged
One of the reasons why people go to sporting events is to create memories your VIP fan experience should allow them to take a memento of the occasion. Available throughout the game, the ability to purchase a wide range of merchandise can really add to the enjoyment.
Imagine this scenario, if you will…
“The game is about to end, and your kids’ favorite player has just scored an incredible free kick in injury time to seal the game. After the goal celebrations subside, you decide you want to capture the moment with a unique memento.
Via your second screen, you get an exclusive opportunity for the discounted purchase of a signed shirt of the star player who just scored. You decide to go for it, and with just a single click, you own a shirt and a story to remember”.
The perfect moment for merchandising is when fans are in the moment and engaged with their VIP sporting experience. These are opportunities that fans will actively seek out, so the demand is most certainly there.
The world of personalized club merchandise doesn’t end in the physical world though, as digital memorabilia has become hugely popular in recent years. Imagine how a unique digital product might round off a fan experience…
Element #8 – Digital Memorabilia – Upgrade your event with personalized NFTs
Leveraging the modern phenomenon of Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTS, your VIP event can be made even more memorable by making them available for purchase. Each one represents a unique, one-of-a-kind keepsake, and their popularity is increasing all the time.
A great VIP fan experience can continue well after the game…
“The match has ended, and the experience was unbeatable. And, to wrap up the experience, the venue has given you a personalized NFT based on your favorite players and moments. As such, you get an NFT delivered straight to your digital wallet.
If the excitement in the stadium weren’t enough, you now get to tell your friends about your brand-new digital collection. What a way to finish an amazing day!”
Creating personalized NFTs for your fans will provide them with a unique digital collection and can create a new revenue stream for your brand.
THE NFL VIP EXPERIENCE – FIRST STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
As was mentioned at the start, some NFL venues have taken their first tentative steps to create enhanced VIP fan experiences, and have started to show some good results in the field. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples…
Example #1 – Hard Rock Stadium in Miami
At Miami Dolphins HARD ROCK STADIUM, you can now join the exclusive 72 club, for whom the club provides private screens at your seats to watch replays and highlights,
It’s also possible to wear headsets for live commentary and choose personalized seating options that include 216 luxury suites during live games.
Example #2 – TIAA Bank Field In Jacksonville
TIAA BANK FIELD, Home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, features a private pool party on match-day that helps create a memorable and extended experience for their fans.
Their VIP venue also provides automated tended bars to help increase operational revenues and eliminate the long queues.
In Stadium Experience Techs Are Becoming a Necessity For Modern Fans
The world is rapidly evolving and stadium owners who want their share of a market that’s worth $11.9 billion have now realized that venue experiences enhanced with new technologies have become a necessity for the modern sports fan.
Another addition to XR is the possibility during the game to pick up a phone and take a picture of the field. In return you get the name of the player you are looking at, as well as additional data about him – age, statistics, previous teams and much more. Until XR glasses are available, any screen will work.
Competing with the many forms of digital entertainment that exist, stadiums need to cater for younger audiences in the ways we’ve looked at here today.
If your brand is looking to upgrade its fans’ VIP experience and looking for new channels of revenue streams, feel free to ping me and I will be happy to guide you through the first steps.
Stand by for the next article which talks about “How and why we should transform the VIP experience for the fans at home.“
Stay tuned for more!
If you are a startup providing solutions in any of those topics, please feel free to apply HERE.
Research: Daniel Rabinowitz , Yonatan larkin, & Gomez Gondwe.
Featuring: iXpole, JeikeTicketing, ImagineAR, FootAR, FansXR, Playersvote, PlayTally, Fanpictor, Fanfood, Fastserve, ArenaEats, Splink, CollectID, Fansaves, Sizzle, Betegy, My Football Space, Stargrapgh, Itsmyne, CSE Entertainment, Gamifly, Mindfly, Polysports, Waka World, Full Venue, MyFavorito, Bleachr, Opine, Yabi Technologies, Rage Fan, & ExeedMe.