The Rise of Gamification

Contributed by Myles Romm

Copy of Copy of Hometurf Logo

In an effort to attract a new generation of young fans, teams are investing heavily in gamification, free-to-play games, and other second-screen experiences. As strange as it may seem, teams and leagues now need to offer an experience that rivals that of TikTok and Instagram.  

 

The comfort and varying streams of stimulus that a fan is granted at home, such as watching the game on tv, checking their phone for social media updates or messages, and having their laptop open to check the stats of the game, all contribute to a complacent fan that doesn’t really need the traditional stadium experience. This idea intensifies as you move down generations; the younger the fan, the more likely a traditional live experience will not carry the same appeal and romantic nostalgia that it does for some of the more seasoned fans.  

 

Technology is breaking down the barriers between the home and the home stadium. As one report notes, “Technology is now an integral part of the way fans consume sports – Nearly 70% say emerging technologies have enhanced their overall viewing experience, both inside and outside the stadium.”i The article continues, “if [fans] enjoy their tech experience, a majority (56%) of fans would attend more matches while 92% would spend more on online subscriptions.”ii  

Copy of Gamification Screenshot

Recognizing this trend, Venuetize is working with our clients to deliver entertainment value to their fans regardless of whether they are in the arena, on their sofa or somewhere in between. This week we are proud to announce a partnership with HomeTurf – “the ultimate sports sidekick” – to bring the stadium experience to fans at home, coming this fall. HomeTurf’s products include in-game trivia and polls, real-time stats and analytics, replays and animations, and “Team Screams” to allow fans to talk smack throughout the game. HomeTurf synchronizes with television broadcasts and can even integrate with stadium jumbotrons to bring the same game-day stadium experience to fans at home. The product has both advertising and sponsorship opportunities, allowing our clients to monetize the experience at the same time they are increasing engagement with their fan base.  

 

Stay tuned this Fall for more partnership announcements.  

Why a Destination-Themed App is the Future

Contributed by Myles Romm

Are you ready for some football? Believe it or not, the NFL season is kicking off tonight at the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, OH between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The start of the NFL season alone is reason to celebrate, but this year’s game is especially exciting for Venuetize and our partners at the Hall of Fame Village (HOFV). Last month, Venuetize in partnership with HOFV powered by Johnson Controls, deployed a destination-themed application to expand beyond traditional sports venues and provide guests a mobile-first experience to a year-round destination. Mobile technology that provides more convenient and safer options has become a requirement in a guest’s visit rather than a pleasant surprise; our work with the HOFV tracks along a similar path.  

The HOF Village experience is enhanced by the various concerts and other hospitality and entertainment opportunities available on site. As such, the HOF Village needed a mobile solution that could blanket the entirety of the campus and each individual experience that is offered. Venuetize’s mobile technology essentially functions as the concierge of the HOFV, aiding guests in where to go, how to get there, and what is available. This transformation of facility navigation puts compasses and maps to shame. More importantly, our partnership with HOFV reflects the beginning of a technological revolution that relies on an accessible mobile-first experience for any destination.  

Copy of HOFV Screenshots - Aerial Background - Final

The bedrock of the Venuetize-HOFV partnership is the willingness to innovate and invest in technology that is leading edge. Phase one of the app launch offers relevant content and news, the ability to book at campus attractions, as well as make reservations for places to stay. In the second phase of the HOFV app, the addition of augmented reality (AR) allows for the HOFV to provide guests with immersive and creative experiences. Once again, the HOFV has tasked Venuetize to move away from a passive guest experience and into one that is interactive, accessible, and fun. This idea is also apparent in the upcoming “Hall of Fantasy League”, a community backed national fantasy league.  

Can’t make it to tonight’s game or upcoming HOF Induction Ceremonies? Well, there are plenty of other opportunities to visit the Village this summer. Later this month is the GEICO ESPN High School Kickoff game between the world-renowned IMG Academy, based in Bradenton, Florida, and Bishop Sycamore High School, a local high school in the northeast suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. And if you are a country music fan you won’t want to miss the Highway 77 Music Festival on Sept 12 featuring Dan + Shay, Dustin Lynch and others. 

Download the app today and don’t miss out on the excitement! 

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Venuetize and Gaming: A Sure Bet

Contributed by Myles Romm

We are in the middle of a contemporary gold rush that spans from coast to coast. Sports betting has exploded across America as more states vote to legalize the practice in fear of missing out on a potential billion-dollar revenue stream. As it sits currently, 31 states have legalized single-game sports betting, which makes up for 56% of the U.S. population. Another 9 states have betting bills pending.[i] This dramatic change in state policies has been driven by both sports fans’ rapid appetite for sports betting and politicians’ desires to generate revenue for the state through taxes and licensing fees.

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The demand for sports betting has been apparent in Michigan, where sports betting took effect in January of 2021 and has accounted for an astonishing $1.5 billion in total sports bets to date. Out of that number, the state-authorized sportsbooks have racked in a healthy $125 million in revenue. And, out of that number, the state has made $5 million off taxes from sportsbook operators.[ii] Mind you, this practice has only been live for 6 months. Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a research and consulting firm focused on sports betting, estimated that total sports betting revenue in the U.S. in 2021 will reach $1.24B marking a staggering 360% Y/Y growth.[iii] Even more, the company forecasts “revenue of $19.0B if all 50 states legalize sports betting.”

 

As states continue to legalize sports betting, professional sports leagues and teams have been forced to grasp with how to play in the space. Many teams have signed sponsorship deals with sportsbook operators, generating well-needed income and providing sportsbooks with access to potential new customers. However, there may be an even larger monetary opportunity for teams as an affiliate. By working with sportsbooks as affiliates, teams are permitted by the league to collect fees from their betting partner for converting fans into bettors. As Sportico reports, "all five of the major U.S. sports leagues permit clubs to collect affiliate revenue (some were vague in terms of limitations). Few organizations are believed to be taking advantage of the opportunity.”[iv] Those teams that choose not to engage in affiliate-type partnerships with sport book operators could be leaving a large sum of cash on the table. Some teams, however, are starting to figure out just how lucrative a betting affiliate can be for their organization. Teams like the Jets and the Ravens have hired a sports data company to help assist in brokering sponsorship and affiliate deals with betting partners in New York and Baltimore.[v]

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Venuetize Adds BettorLogic to Sports Betting Module

Venuetize has started to work with our clients to find opportunities to monetize betting within their stadiums. Recently, we completed two deals with industry leaders TriggyBet and Bettorlogic to integrate their content into our mobile technology platform. TriggyBet and Bettorlogic operate as the buffer between the fan and sportsbook operators. They act as educators, offering content that is easily digestible and understood by the novice bettor. Through Bettorlogic’s advanced sports betting products, which were deployed by Venuetize in The District Detroit (TDD) app in 2021, Red Wings fans were able to get historical data and recommended bets with one-click access to BetMGM, one of TDD’s sponsors.

 

By adding an educational component, fans enjoy an interactive and fun betting experience rather than a confusing one. This functionality is crucial in securing a favorable conversion rate of fans to new bettors. Additionally, these integrations service the desire for a more interactive and engaging fan experience instead of just simply watching a live event. People want to be part of the event. Now, as part of the Venuetize platform, teams can reap the financial benefits of affiliated partnerships with sport book operators while offering fans a more engaging experience at their venue.

“Venuetize is an important strategic partner as we look to approach the emerging sports betting market in North America,” said BettorLogic’s CEO, Andrew Dagnall. “Expanding beyond the European betting market as a trusted and proven betting solution, we hope to offer American bettors a similar experience and one that prioritizes convenience and fan engagement. The European betting market is relatively more mature than that of the American market, which requires an aspect of education to ultimately lead individuals to become familiar and interested in betting as a practice. We couldn't be more excited to start collaborating with Venuetize and their clients across the professional sports leagues."

 

[i] https://seekingalpha.com/news/3707001-sports-betting-revenue-forecast-to-skyrocket-as-more-states-approve
[ii] https://www.playmichigan.com/sports-betting/revenue/
[iii] https://seekingalpha.com/news/3707001-sports-betting-revenue-forecast-to-skyrocket-as-more-states-approve
[iv] https://www.sportico.com/leagues/football/2021/nfl-sports-betting-affiliate-1234631511/
[v] https://www.sportico.com/leagues/football/2021/nfl-sports-betting-affiliate-1234631511/

 

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Keeping Fans Connected as Venues Reopen

Contributed by Venuetize in collaboration with Sports Innovation Lab

Now that fans are making their way back into venues, stadium operators need to ensure that fans feel safe and regain their sense of trust. Innovative technology partnerships are helping venues implement solutions that directly solve these most recent industry challenges that have surfaced as a result of the pandemic.

The graph below demonstrates average capacities from seven states across the U.S.

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Given the various capacity numbers, stadiums have been developing protocols for ingress, egress, mobile payments and ordering, and mobile ticketing. To ensure these protocols are appropriately deployed and made available to fans, venue operators need to have a strong connectivity infrastructure in place. With the proper infrastructure in place, venue operators can implement mobile-first experiences that will help fans navigate the venue safely - before, during, and after the game. In preparation for the return of fans, many venue operators have had to rush to fit years of technology innovation and planning into a single year’s time. Thankfully, most states have had a staggered approach as it relates to fan capacity allowed, granting teams a solid testing period for rolling out these new protocols and contactless-focused technology solutions. 

The graphs below show some of the requirements and specifications that stadiums in the U.S. are implementing.

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The pandemic has clearly accelerated the fan journey becoming a predominantly mobile-first experience. The data is showing that people want to go to live events again and that there is pent up demand, but they also want to feel safe. In order to instill consumer safety and confidence, sports franchises and venue operators have had to invest significant resources into technology and infrastructure upgrades. While these upgrades have been directly focused on safely bringing fans back to venues in the near term, there should be plenty of longer-term benefits that are a byproduct of these most recent investments.

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The data tells us that consumer expectations for visiting venues has shifted during the pandemic. By offering services that cater to these new self-service and frictionless expectations, venue operators can benefit significantly. The initial results from fans being back to venues are showing more transactions per fan, higher per caps, and more efficiency related to ingress and egress times. While it can be difficult to find silver linings from this past year, the new technology solutions being deployed in 2021 across sports and entertainment venues should pay dividends for many years to come.

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Venuetize Insights: Cashless Venues, Sports Betting, Name Image Likeness

Contributed by Todd San Jule, VP of Strategy and Sports Innovation Lab

It’s a New Year, and as we look to the next 12 months we see three primary themes that will define the sports industry in the US in 2021:

Theme #1: The Surge of Cashless Venues
Theme #2: US Sports Betting Boom
Theme #3: The Emergence of Name Image Likeness (NIL)

2021 VZ_SIL Research (Web Format) DAY 1

The Surge of Cashless Venues

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak and the suspension of most spectator sports in March 2020, there were just six professional venues that were 100% cashless. Just nine months later that number has grown to approximately 50 venues across five professional leagues (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS), based on data that was compiled by Sports Innovation Lab (SIL). The number of cashless venues seems to be growing every week, as teams address safety concerns and fan anxiety by adding new touchless payment options. This new Touchless Fan Journey is made possible through emerging technology from companies such as Venuetize, a leading mobile technology and advanced e-commerce platform for the sports, hospitality, and entertainment industries.

From its proprietary database, SIL broke up 130 venues into five groups:

  • Fully Cashless Pre-Pandemic (5%) - These are the very few venues that made the switch to totally cashless pre-pandemic. They explicitly say on their website that they do not accept cash, and publicly announced this before March of 2020
  • Requiring Cashless Post-Pandemic (34%) - Venues who are not allowing fans that return to stadiums to use cash. This decision comes in conjunction with numerous other health protocols, such as mobile ticketing, social distancing, mask requirements, etc.
  • Leaning Into Cashless, No Commitment (28%) - Venues that have dabbled with cashless kiosks, cashless merchandise, or some form of part cashless, but are still not ready to make the full switch
  • Credit/Debit, Cash, Mobile Pay (25%) - Venues that still rely on cash, and may have recently adopted POS systems with contactless payment tech at some of their kiosks
  • No Info (8%) - These venues did not have enough information publicly available to make a classification
DAY 2 Research Web Format

US Sports Betting Boom

You might not have been able to attend your favorite team's home game in 2020, but chances are you could bet on it. As of the end of the year, 25 states plus the District of Columbia had legalized sports betting, leading to astronomical wagering numbers. In November alone, approximately $3.5 billion was legally wagered on sports events in the US, with more than 80% of those bets being placed on a mobile device.

The Top 5 Sports Betting states in November (pending official numbers from Illinois which was 4th largest in October) according to Legal Sports Report were:

  1. New Jersey - $931 million
  2. Nevada - $609 million
  3. Pennsylvania - $492 million
  4. Indiana - $251 million
  5. Colorado - $231 million

Surprisingly, coming in the 6th spot was Tennessee, which only launched on Nov 1 and set a new record for the first month of legal wagering in a state. Bigger things are in store in 2021. Early this year, mobile sports betting should go live in Michigan and Virginia, with Maryland, Louisiana and South Dakota to launch in the months ahead. The big wildcard is New York, where sports betting is legal at a handful of upstate casinos but mobile sports betting is currently prohibited. That could change in 2021 if government passes legislation, and if it does, New York could see several billion dollars in annual handle and several hundred million in tax revenues. Connecticut and Ohio are two other states that could cross the finish line in 2021.

The Emergence of Name Image Likeness (NIL)

Later this year the NCAA is expected to allow college athletes to start earning money using their name, image and likeness (NIL). What this exactly looks like and how much money the NCAA's nearly half a million student-athletes can make is still up in the air. In addition to updated NCAA bylaws expected later this month, there are multiple federal and state bills in pending legislation, each with its different set of rules.

Regardless of which bills cross the finish line, however, there is already a declared winner, and that is the college athlete. For the first time ever, whether you play sports at Colorado or Columbia, Washington or Wheaton, you will be able to profit from your name, your image and your likeness.

Although a lot of attention has been placed on how much money the big-name football players will make, the highest upside may be for women college athletes. Although they are not as well-known as the Trevor Lawrences and Justin Fields of the NCAA landscape, many of these female athletes have large social media followings that they should be able to monetize. Would it surprise you that the Cavinder twins (Hanna and Haley) that play basketball at Fresno State have more than 2.5 million followers on TikTok and more than 50,000 subscribers on YouTube? Ka-ching!

The folks at Sports Innovation Lab (SIL) looked at the potential earnings of several college athletes across multiple sports, and then compared that to the highest salary they could make as a professional. The results are astounding. Haley Cruse, for example, a softball player at Oregon, could make an estimated $117,000 annually posting on her social media channels where she has nearly 335,000 followers across Instagram and Twitter. This is nearly 6 times what she could make in the National Pro Fastpitch League where the top salary is $20,000/year.

The chart above shows the earnings potential of other female collegiate athletes, which was compiled by SIL using earnings data provided by OpenDorse and INFLCR (as published in Axios, FiveThirtyEight and CBSSports.com). OpenDorse and INFLCR are a couple of the new companies emerging in the NIL space, along with other headliners such as the Perpetual Sports Network, a Venuetize client that will be launching a premium Content Hub in 2021.

This new and unique partnership between Venuetize and Perpetual Sports Network will leverage Venuetize's extensive experience in mobile and e-commerce with the launch of the Content Hub that will host unique athlete content within a subscriber channel. On the first day that an athlete signs with Perpetual Sports Network, the Perpetual Sports Network’s Content Studio will kick off a content plan that includes robust video storytelling produced by its team of action sports and documentary experts, long-form journalism stories that are unique to each athlete, and social-media content that will share the collegiate experience of each athlete with an audience.

The goal is to have new NIL legislation adopted before the 2021-22 academic year. And before the start of the 2021 football and women’s soccer seasons, when last year’s headliner Sarah Fuller - who made history by kicking extra points for Vanderbilt last fall - will be back on the soccer field, this time as a graduate transfer at North Texas. Sarah has approximately 245,000 social media followers, which could be worth more than $150,000 annually.

Stay tuned for more Venuetize Insights in 2021!

 

 

 

Sponsorship Opportunities in a Mobile-First Strategy

Contributed by Sam Yarin, Sr. Solutions Engineer

As organizations look to build upon their mobile-first strategies, they must think differently about sponsorship and mobile assets. There is a huge opportunity to drive more revenue and underwrite the technology investment through sponsorship whether guests are physically or virtually participating.

We want to share some examples on how Venuetize clients are using their mobile real estate and technology platform to drive relevant sponsorship opportunities.

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Naming Rights Title Sponsor on App
For large sponsorships, naming rights or the launch screen can be used to promote a brand. The PGA TOUR highlights TaylorMade as the main sponsor for their launch screen. They also have other sponsors integrated into the experience.

eCommerce Sponsor
The Texas Rangers use Mobile Ordering to activate for their sponsor 7-Eleven (7NOW) to get guests thinking about them in the mobile and delivery space.

Sponsored Wallet
There’s the opportunity to provide value based on type of credit card, bank, or other sponsored value ($25 value for loading Chase credit card, 10% off by using Mastercard, etc.) This not only drives people to upload their credit card and use it, but also allows the organization to collect rich transactional data, and increase their odds of the obtaining the highly coveted “top of (digital) wallet” spot.

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Individual Feature Sponsors
The District Detroit uses a relevant transportation angle by the "Getting here sponsored by Chevy”. Also, organizations can promote their preferred rideshare partners such as Uber and Lyft. Parking is another area of the mobile experience that we are seeing as a highly sponsor-friendly asset.

Gamification/Trivia/AR
We’ve seen many clients in the past few months add gamification or trivia to their application to drive traffic, even though venues have been closed. New corporate partners may be interested in opportunities like this, but also long-standing partners who may already have a contract in place and looking to pivot for a more digital activation rather than physical.

Geo-Fenced Push Notification Offers Pre or Post Event
We see clients using geo-fenced push notifications in order to deliver information or sponsored content at the right time someone would want to receive it. For example, a guest arrives at a venue and a push notification is sent with an offer to make their first food and beverage order and have it delivered to their seat. Taking it to another level this push notification could link out to an instructional video that shows first time users how to setup and use the Mobile Ordering solution and the different options available.

Stories, Articles, or Advertising Prior to Video
For sponsored driven content, an organization may want to have all of their stories, articles, or videos sponsored by a partner. Another option is to just offer sponsorships to the premium content.

In-App Advertisements
Banner ads and ad-serving engine are also two ways to drive quick and relevant advertisements in app.

Digital and Geo-Fenced Autographs
Another example of innovation rising up during a time of crises in our industry, we are working with a company Syn’d (https://getsynd.com) that allows professional athletes, entertainment stars, etc., take a selfie, sign-it, and then deliver it to certain pre-defined segments. This is a highly sponsor-friendly asset and another example of a creative way to reach fans during this period of little to no live events. We think this use case will be valuable even when venues are back at full capacity.

 

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Introducing the Touchless Fan Journey

Touchless Fan Journey

 

For many years, Venuetize has provided solutions that maintain ease and convenience for fans attending live events at a venue. In a post-COVID world, fans are going to demand a completely reinvented venue experience that reduces, if not eliminates, physical contact. That’s where the Touchless Fan Journey comes into play...

Dan is a huge fan and season ticket member (“STM”) of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He loads his Chase-issued VISA card to the mobile wallet in the AMALIE Arena app and automatically receives a digital $25 Arena Cash card to spend anywhere in his team’s home venue. Before a game, he can buy game tickets and pay for parking with the app’s mobile wallet. Once he arrives at the arena, he can buy concessions with a single scan of his mobile wallet at a point of sale terminal, which will also apply his 35% STM food and beverage discount. He can order a team jersey through the app, which will automatically apply his 25% STM merchandise discount and pick it up at his convenience from a locker in the concourse without having to wait in a long line at the team store. Even if he forgets his mobile phone at home, he can still buy things at the arena with “Pay with Face”, which leverages facial recognition censors at the concession stands.

In a series of seamless, convenient, and contactless transactions — without ever exchanging cash, presenting a card, or making physical contact with another person — Dan has interacted with a ticketing system, parking system, two point of sale systems, a membership system, the team, a concessionaire, a retail merchant, and a parking vendor, both in and out of the arena.

Our integrated eCommerce platform breaks down the silos between devices, interfaces, back-end operating systems, and merchants to create an easy, personalized, and seamless payments experience for both consumers and operators.

Let’s walk through the Touchless Fan Journey and look at each stage of a visitor’s experience and how venues must adapt and evolve their operations in order for fans to return.

  1. PLAN
    Current Fan Experience: Fans browse websites, social sites, or use team and venue mobile apps to see upcoming events and search for tickets.
    Opportunity:
    Digital communication channels offer a direct path to fans that allow fans to stay current on team-produced content, plan for their visit, and decide on transportation to the venue. Meanwhile, teams and venues can keep fans informed of COVID-related changes being made to venue operations, shifting event schedules, and updates on steps being taken to address health and safety concerns.
  2. COMMIT
    Current Fan Experience: Fans either purchase tickets through ticket sites, in the secondary market, or pay with cash at the box office.
    Opportunity:
    Push fans to purchase tickets and pre-pay for parking using the mobile wallet in the team or venue app. Eliminate cash payments and physical credit/debit card transactions for tickets and parking by requiring mobile or web payments in advance of an event.
  3. ENTER
    Current Fan Experience: Most venues employ gate attendants who use handheld scanners to scan physical tickets or mobile barcodes for access control. For fans who have not purchased their tickets or parking passes in advance, they interact with a gate attendant to pay with cash or physical credit/debit cards.
    Opportunity:
    Reduce fan-facing gate attendants and expedite entry by eliminating handheld scanners and installing freestanding turnstiles and biometrics sensors for facial recognition-based access control.
  4. ORDER (F&B)
    Current Fan Experience: Most fans walk up to a concessions stand and interact with concessions staff to place an order, often paying with cash or a physical credit/debit card. Lines are long, transaction times are inefficient, and there are multiple physical touch points throughout the process.
    Opportunity:
    Reduce fan-facing concessions staff by enabling self-service, touchless options for fans to order and pay. Push pre-paid mobile ordering of food and beverage items for express pickup, and increase counter space for pick-up only stations. Enable fans to favorite items and past orders. Prompt repeat orders, and enable one-swipe pay in-app to expedite transaction speeds and increase order frequency.
  5. BUY (MERCH)
    Current Fan Experience: Long lines in crowded team stores, involving physical exchange of merchandise items, and payments involving cash or a physical credit/debit card.
    Opportunity: Reduce fan-facing merchandise staff by enabling self-service, touchless options for fans to order and pay. Go 100% cashless by deploying cash-to-card kiosks. Install scanners at POS terminals and kiosks for mobile wallet payments. Enable NFC terminals for tap to pay. Introduce biometrics scanners for facial recognition-based payments at POS and kiosks. Push pre-paid mobile ordering of merchandise for express pickup or locker retrieval.
  6. PLAY
    Current Fan Experience: Limited options for interactive games.
    Opportunity: Offer interactive games through the mobile app to increase fan engagement. Incentive play through action-based rewards, offers, and promotions that can be redeemed through the mobile app while also grooming future behavior for sports betting.
  7. RE-ORDER
    We’re using re-order to show another way to pay for concessions.
    Current Fan Experience: No matter how many times fans order concessions, subsequent visits are not any faster or more personalized.
    Opportunity: Go 100% cashless by deploying cash-to-card kiosks. Install scanners at POS terminals and kiosks for mobile wallet payments. Enable NFC terminals for tap to pay. Introduce biometrics scanners for facial recognition-based payments at POS and kiosks. Fans’ STM discounts get applied and their default method of payment is charged automatically through the mobile wallet, without them ever having to use their phone.
  8. EARN
    Current Fan Experience: Some fans may participate in loyalty programs with restrictive point-based economies or confusing earn and redemption policies, resulting in limited results for teams and questionable value for fans.
    Opportunity: User action-based rewards promote desired fan behavior while personalizing relevant offers and benefits. Behavioral data can then be used for targeted marketing and upselling.

Teams and venues must take action now to adapt to the post-COVID world that will be demanded by fans, or risk empty venues. If you’d like to discuss your venue-specific options, contact the Venuetize team here to set up a time to learn more about how you can prepare to welcome back your fans with a touchless experience.

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Safety and Health in the New Era of Live Events

Contributed by DC Ramsey, Director of Marketing

People in Line

Sports fans, concert goers, and casino guests—they all have something in common: the desire to attend live events and enjoy the unparalleled experience that in-person social gatherings can bring. It’s a powerful force, but how will venues evolve in the post COVID-19 world to address their guests’ new concerns and changes in behavior? There is only one certainty we know of right now – things will be different when we all return.

One of these new realities will be how consumers and operators view cash. “Paper money can reportedly carry more germs than a household toilet […and] can reportedly transport a live flu virus for up to 17 days.”[1] Looking at revenue credit card user spend up to 83% more than when they use cash to transact[2] . Transaction speeds are also increased, but there is still room for improvement to increase operational efficiency and limit the number of physical touchpoints for a transaction. That’s where cashless options, such as mobile payments and biometrics, come into play.

For operators, mobile initiatives have been a priority in order to best facilitate guest engagement, act as a communication platform, and enhance operational efficiency. For guests at venues, mobile adoption has been driven by incentives related to loyalty and rewards, convenience, ease of use, and familiarity and behavioral patterns established from their other digital purchasing experiences. Now, growing health concerns are driving accelerated adoption of contactless ways to pay.

Prior to COVID-19, approximately 50% of American smartphone users had engaged in mobile payments, with an expectation to grow to 90% by 2020[3] . Given the heightened concerns caused by this pandemic, we anticipate that number to rise exponentially, as contactless payments become a more attractive – and safer – option for consumers.

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing examples on how Venuetize is delivering solutions for the future of live events. This is a volatile time for the industries we serve, but Venuetize is committed to helping provide a safe and touchless experience for your guests in the years ahead.


 

[1] http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1914560_1914558_1914544,00.html
[2] https://fortunly.com/statistics/cash-versus-credit-card-spending-statistics/#gref
[3] https://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-is-what-a-mobile-wallet-could-to-your-holiday-spending-its-not-pretty-2018-12-03

Mobile Key to PGA TOUR’s Record Online Engagement Growth

The PGA TOUR is bringing the game closer to fans than ever before. They recently launched the “Live Under Par” brand campaign with a goal of extending their reach not only to golf’s core fan base, but to also appeal to a new and diverse generation of fans by celebrating content from both inside and outside the ropes that is created by players, fans and the PGA TOUR. Mobile engagement is a key strategy for nurturing and developing this important base.

In 2016, the TOUR transformed its mobile device policy, allowing fans to capture and share photos and video at tournaments. This past May during THE PLAYERS Championship, the TOUR even undertook a user-generated content campaign, dubbed #Make17Scarier, that asked fans and followers to create scenes and filters around the 17thhole at TPC Sawgrass. We can expect to see more of this, as the TOUR continues to build its mobile platforms.

Craig Duncan, Venuetize’s Chief Revenue Officer sat down with Scott Gutterman, PGA TOUR VP of Digital Operations, and Ali Quinn, The TOUR’s product manager, to discuss the role of mobile technology in engaging fans and driving sponsorship activity.

CD: What can you tell us about PGA TOUR fans engaging through mobile during the 2018 season?

 SG: When we talk about mobile, we are talking about two channels, mobile apps and the mobile Web.  Different fans use each of these platforms, with the vast majority of casual fans using the mobile Web.

Our app is used regularly by our core fans. We’ve had well over five million downloads, but the more interesting metric is daily active users. The number of visits the app gets per user is two to three times higher, and time spent on the app is much more than the website. Users are visiting the app three, four, and five times daily. We’ve seen fantastic growth year-over-year.

AQ: The PGA TOUR app has become a central point for a larger initiative  – not just segmenting our fan base, but driving their experience at TOUR events and ensuring we get them to come back. We’re working to change the relationship from a passive scoring experience to a two-way communication.

Special offers – like $10 off in the merchandise tent – can be a great incentive to download and log into the app.  With the users’ information, we can then better market, increase retention, and attract new fans.

 CD: Apps definitely differ from a Web experience in a number of ways – from requiring a log-in to push messaging. Can you talk about the benefits of that?

AQ: Logging in gets you more services and we can use that data to get to know our fans so we can serve them better at events and throughout the larger TOUR ecosystem.

SG: Users who download the app go through a wizard that walks them through preferences for push notifications. And when they favorite players or provide other information, they get more relevant information pushed to them. For the PGA TOUR brand, being there at the top of the phone, providing notifications, is extremely important.  To keep the content relevant and exciting, we are digging deeper into rich push notifications that includes images and video.  We’re already starting to do this today, pushing short videos or images of a favorite player. Our longer vision is the fan’s phone becoming proactive, rather than reactive.

AQ: It is all abut two-way communication with our fans and guiding them throughout the experience.

CD: The TOUR has gone through a dramatic shift in terms of allowing fans to use mobile phones at TOUR events. What opportunities have opened up as a result in terms of sponsorship activation?

SG: We started letting fans use mobile devices at our events on a limited basis in 2011 and expanded the policy in 2016 allowing fans to capture and share photos and video at TOUR events. Today, it is clear that if a fan is on-site at a TOUR event for more than four hours, the best way to grow our fan base is through our fans sharing photos via social media.

AQ: We say “You’re courtside all the time at a TOUR event,” and its really true. The experience is so different that our fans get such great content. We’ve actually embraced user-generated content in our platform and our advertising campaigns.

SG: In terms of sponsorship opportunities, we have mobile phone sponsors throughout the app. Brands know we have the number one app in golf and that we reach a valuable fan demographic.  We treat our app the same way any retailer treats their app – throughout the fan journey, users are getting special offers related to our partners and we’re getting onsite activation through push messaging, so if a fan is walking past the Michelob Ultra Lounge or Grey Goose Lounge, they might get a push notification for a free drink or food discount.

AQ: Another example of a sponsor campaign that leveraged the Venuetize platform is the Firestone Fan Village, where anytime a fan entered, they received a Pennzoil coupon for $10 off an oil change. In the past, we’ve also created sponsored content with our partners, where fans received 10 percent off concessions if they use a MasterCard, for example.

CD: How will this experience evolve?

AQ: The goal is to automate personalization so when fans arrive on-site, they’ll automatically receive tailored selections to guide their experience. Today, when fans arrive on-site, they get an event guide, which is a homepage only available at the event.  It’s very helpful because it customizes the fan experience, so they can find what is relevant to them at the venue.

SG: And as they move around the event, their selections change based on proximity.

CD: Has the TOUR seen a correlation between embracing the mobile platform – and all of these great features – and attracting younger fans?

SG: We’re focused on marketing the app to younger fans and anecdotal data suggests that we’re definitely reaching and interacting with them.  Over the next year, we’re going to further leverage analytics to detail who is in the app. We are very interested in that but haven’t focused on it.

CD: AR and VR are continually discussed as future engagement technologies that fans desire and the golf industry has seen some early success with virtual games.  Do you believe this technology will play a larger role for the TOUR going in 2019 and beyond?

SG: We already offer 180-degree views in the app, and we were the first sports league to have a virtual reality app on the Facebook Oculus platform, including two years of live VR from THE PLAYERS Championship.  We believe Live VR has a lot of potential and we’ll see where the headset market goes next.

In terms of Augmented Reality, we rolled out a standalone PGA TOUR AR app and we’re the first sports leagues to apply live data to AR. We can project one of our signature holes and fans can watch live and see shot trails going around the hole. Fans can look at historical shot trails. There’s a real potential to further bring people into our events with that, and we’re excited about it.

On the course, AR allows fans to look200-300 yards down a fairway, aim their phone and see who is on the tee box and see where their balls lands.  There are some technical challenges to overcome for true, live, in-person location-based AR, but we’re working on making that happen. Eventually, we’ll want to integrate our AR capabilities into the main PGA TOUR app.

CD: What else can you share with us regarding what’s to come in 2019 for the TOUR?  Anything specific to mobile that fans should be on the lookout for?

AQ: You’ll see changes in the app coming next year in terms of utility. We’re very focused on how fans use mobile and the PGA TOUR app at events and new avenues to engage them – from  ticket sales, to push notifications, to managing the fan journey around the event.

SG: Navigation will also be a big improvement for our fans.  We’re always looking to improve how fans get around the event and find what is most relevant to them.

More than anything, we continue to market in order to drive awareness of the app, so fans understand what they can do with it.  Whether they are at an event, or watching on television, we want them to be aware of the different, rich experiences they can get with the app.

Cheering on the Tampa Bay Lightning

The Bolts are moving on to Round 3 of the NHL Playoffs!

The Venuetize team was invited to cheer on our hometown hero – and customer – the Tampa Bay Lightning, during Game 2 of Round 2 of the NHL Playoffs. Lucky for us, the Lightning tied up the series, beating the Boston Bruins 4-2 at AMALIE Arena. We are so excited that they’ve won the series and are moving on in their quest for the Cup!

We had a blast! Our team was especially excited to see the Lightshow feature of our app in action. Check it out here. During the pregame show, when we saw all of those phones lit up around the arena, we felt pretty amazing about being part of the team that made that happen.

Bring on Round 3. We can’t wait to watch!

Check out some photos of our visit.