Top 4 Takeaways from the 2019 VenuesNow Industry Conference

Last week Venuetize was honored to be part of the forward-thinking discussions that took place with industry leaders at the VenuesNow Conference in New York City. We asked four of our own who attended this great event for their top takeaways.

1) Cashless Venues are Trending

Karri Zaremba, Founder & COO

Venue operators are pushing more than ever for cashless concessions and merchandise stores, and with statistics like the ones shared by Jerry Jacobs, Jr., of Delaware North, it’s not a surprise as to why. Delaware North is seeing an 18% bump in per caps on cashless transactions compared to payments with cash at the TD Garden in Boston. Speed of service, guest satisfaction, and theft prevention all continue to be top drivers of going cashless.


Karri’s Takeaway

Fans want convenience and the freedom to pay with whatever method of payment they wish. Some state laws prohibit not having cash options. Venues and teams should focus less on the publicity of saying they are “cashless,” and more on the infrastructure, technology, and back-end operations required to provide a seamless checkout process for their consumers. The easiest way to do this is to leverage the smartphones that are already in more than 90% of attendees’ hands. Eventually, the less than 10% still using cash will recognize the convenience and other benefits of going cashless, and they will convert. Venuetize is seeing even greater lift than 18% in per caps, on average, across our customer base. We are also seeing sponsorship deals by financial institutions and credit card companies that are backing cashless initiatives.


2) Best. Panel. Ever. 

Craig Duncan, CRO

It will not come as any surprise that a panel discussion with three commissioners of professional US sports leagues was insightful and impressive. However, this panel went to another level. For me, it was quite simply the best panel discussion I can ever recall listening to in my career. To hear the humility of these three industry titans, their work ethic, and the amazing backgrounds that led to their ascent to the very top of their respective leagues, I was blown away. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing both Commissioner Don Garber of MLS and Commissioner Adam Silver of the NBA speak before at events, but never in such an intimate setting or personal manner. The newcomer in the group for me was Commissioner Cathy Englebert of the WNBA. I was not aware of her impressive resume, including most recently CEO of Deloitte. I was both alarmed and inspired by her comments that less than 5% of brand sponsor spend goes towards women’s sports in the United States, despite the fact that over 70% of the buying decisions in the household are made by females. She clearly views this current challenge as a massive growth opportunity for the WNBA and women’s sports in general. Based on what I heard from her on this panel, I would not bet against her in leading a charge that closes this gap significantly in the years to come.


Craig’s Takeaway

All three commissioners referenced “digital natives” and the need to cater to the younger generations, with the way to do this being technology and smart phones in particular. Also, it was interesting to hear their thoughts on how new venue builds and renovations are being driven by the more “social and fluid fan.”  There was recognition across all three leaders that the typical fan of their respective sports has changed dramatically over the last decade, and it is up to venue operators, the leagues, and teams, to adjust to their fans’ interests and behaviors. Then there was the clearly unscripted question at the very end from moderator Tod Leiweke regarding the significance of 9/11 to each commissioner and being in downtown Manhattan for this conference on the 18th anniversary of this tragedy. Each one of their stories was incredibly personal and made everyone in the room realize what a privilege it is to work in this industry, and that it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to do our part to promote venue safety and security to the very best we can.

3) Sports Betting is Changing EVERYTHING.

Jim Tobin, VP of Sales, Sports & Ent.

Sports teams, leagues, venue operators, casino operators, owners, and even athletes will all be impacted. While 13 states have already passed legislation to legalize sports betting, there’s still a somewhat long and winding road ahead. Security, fraud prevention, and low latency are all areas that need to be addressed. It is critical to understand how each state will allow a sports bet to take place. In some states, it will all be digital and through mobile – which will require a specific set of requirements.  In other states, the fan will need to place the bet at a physical sports book, whether one that is a part of the venue, or at a casino property.  In any case, a unique set of technical and operational requirements will need to be met, not only to secure the transaction but to provide fans with an optimal experience. What was previously a once-a-day event (often at night) is transforming in many instances to a full-day operation that can include spaces for viewing and/or betting. Betting appears to be the catalyst for an opportunity to increase utilization of the venues, and the revenue impact is already massive and still so much more to follow.


Jim’s Takeaway

The diversity alone in the types of organizations represented across this panel was very telling. From racetracks to multi-use venues, to design and construction companies, to the casino operators, all are working tirelessly to figure out the legal landscape by state, and to take advantage of the incredible opportunity this represents to enhance the fan experience, drive engagement, and increase revenue. There was consensus across all the panelists that sports betting will also keep fans at the venues longer since more fans will have action that is impacted by final score of game. As such, both new venues and renovations of old, are now catering to the sports betting fan with more open, social spaces to watch and/or wager.

4) “Think Like a Brand, Act Like an Agency”

Tony Grillo, Strategic Partnerships

The main topic covered on this panel was the trend towards measurement of advertisements and sponsorship specifically. Last year, Anheuser Busch (AB) made headlines with a new variable cost sponsorship model that would better appropriate funds other than digital based on impressions or other performance metrics. On this panel, agency executives discussed the merits of such a model and the increasing need for venues to provide metrics that can support deals like that of AB. One key point mentioned was that providing more measurement to sponsors can help to renew and increase the scope of current deals.


Tony’s Takeaway

Leagues and teams are likely to agree to some performance metrics and having more analytics to provide them will help immensely with sponsorship deals. Venuetize clients stand to benefit with the additional data that they will be provided from mobile engagement.


Venuetize CTO is a Finalist for Tech Exec of the Year!

Congratulations to our CTO, Nimish Shrivastava, one of three finalists for Technology Executive of the Year in the Tampa Bay Tech Awards! Winners will be announced on November 9.

Check out this excerpt from his nomination:

Nimish Shrivastava is an innovator. He has a long history of creating successful mobile solutions, having launched a range of entertainment apps long before the advent of the Apple App Store. He is the author of multiple patents, and has led teams that have developed innovative proximity solutions that leverage the power of mobile to personalize interactions consumers have with brands, venues, and other technologies.

A serial entrepreneur, Nimish was founder and CEO of eMbience, a leading provider of mobile applications and proximity marketing solutions for sports, media and entertainment companies. Prior to eMbience, Nimish founded (and later successfully sold) Calyx Software Pvt. Ltd., which provides end-to-end mobile solutions for life sciences and healthcare applications, bringing innovative solutions to emerging markets. He also founded Mast Mobile Media Pvt. Ltd (originally Mediasoft Pvt. Ltd.), which provided innovative mobile solutions in music and entertainment for operators and OEMs.

As the CTO at Venuetize, Nimish motivates his teams to think creatively about real-world problems and develop innovative solutions that change the game for clients. Under his technology leadership, Venuetize has successfully developed a platform that connects both the physical and digital world so that visitors to any venue or destination can totally personalize their experience.

Congratulations, Nimish!


See Us at SEAT 2018!

We are looking forward to SEAT Dallas 2018 – coming up next week! And as a sponsor, we are especially excited about the agenda this year.  There are lots of great speakers and we look forward to hearing lessons learned and best practices from the many esteemed panelists.

Our COO and founder, Karri Zaremba, will participate in an exciting panel on Entertainment Districts and will share some best practices from Venuetize customer, The District Detroit. You can learn more about how we work with The District Detroit here.  You can also read about how the app works at Little Caesars Arena, home of the Detroit Pistons and Red Wings, here and here.

The District Detroit covers five neighborhoods, welcomes more than five million visitors annually to ten different sports and entertainment venues, and features nearly 8000 parking spaces.  And The District Detroit mobile app, developed by Venuetize, makes all of that and more available to visitors via their own device. Check out this exciting video to learn more about the $1.2B investment Olympia Entertainment has made in Detroit:


The panel will also include case studies from other professional and collegiate sports teams, including the Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, and Notre Dame.

We are looking forward to hearing from the other sponsors and sports executives at SEAT. Please contact us at if you’re interested in meeting up in Dallas. See you soon!

Top Seven Takeaways from THE PLAYERS

Venuetize works with the PGA TOUR and last week members of our team hosted clients at THE PLAYERS, which took place at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Below are our team’s top seven takeaways from this great event.

  1. THE PLAYERS is an ideal event to entertain clients, partners and employees on a reasonable budget. The event is highly accessible when you consider the overall costs (event tickets, airfare, hotel, transportation, etc.) and the location of the event. There are entertainment options for everyone, including hitting golf balls onto a mini-replica of the 17th island green.
  2. The PGA TOUR has clearly succeeded in engaging a younger fan base, while at the same time still catering to their core demographic. Mobile engagement appears to be at the core of this strategy and was on full display at THE PLAYERS. Large digital boards could be seen throughout the golf course with fan pictures and selfies displayed for all to see with tasteful sponsorship backgrounds mixed in for activation. 
  3. You will be hard pressed to find a sporting event where for an $80 ticket you will get any closer to the action and the star athletes. Being 10 feet away from a pro golfer while they are teeing off or hitting out of trouble from the woods is a very unique and accessible entertainment experience. 
  4. (Shameless Venuetize plug alert!) – The PGA TOUR used geofence technology and their PGA TOUR mobile app to deliver a personalized and convenient experience for those attending the event. From mobile ticketing, to an interactive course map, to live player tracker and statistics, to expediting the (very busy) merchandise store line with mobile payments. We were also lucky enough to have PGA TOUR’s own Scott Gutterman, VP of Digital Operations, give Venuetize and some of our clients a sneak preview of some exciting Augmented Reality technology being tested at The PLAYERS for future TOUR events.
  5. Ingress and Egress continue to be a leading contributor to a fans overall satisfaction level associated with attending a sporting event. The TOUR clearly put a lot of thought and planning into this for THE PLAYERS, and partnered with Uber and Arby’s to deliver an integrated experience. Our people on the ground had high praise for what they experienced both going to and leaving the event at peak times.
  6. Whether playing golf or attending a PGA TOUR event like THE PLAYERS, the sport continues to stand the test of time as a top-notch way to spend quality time with clients, partners, and colleagues. The TOUR has also evolved with ‘the times’, by allowing mobile phones at TOUR events and also investing in the infrastructure to support the connected worker while at a golf tournament. No easy task when you consider the layout of your typical golf course and the importance of noise control that is unique to the sport.
  7. Final Takeaway: Whether you’re an avid golf fan, Gen Z or millennial looking to do something fun and different with friends, a business person entertaining clients, a family looking for a fun day outside together, or you are just looking for a great party, The PLAYERS should absolutely be on your entertainment bucket list. And when you go, don’t forget to bring your mobile companion in the PGA TOUR app.

Witnessing History with LAFC

On April 29, Team Venuetize was lucky enough to be invited to take part in history by attending the inaugural home match at the Los Angeles Football Club’s newly-completed  Banc of California Stadium.

The stadium was built from the ground up for a connected fan experience. From the technology throughout the stadium, to the amazing amenities, every detail is focused on engaging the Club’s fans.

We enjoyed great views, an amazing time at various clubs and lounges in the stadium, including the Sunset Deck, which recreates the beaches of Malibu in downtown LA, and breathtaking action on the pitch. This great article in the LA Times and fantastic video from LAFC capture some of the spirit of the evening, including the winning goal, scored during the last two minutes of stoppage time.

Among the details that help fans experience the venue and stay connected to the club is the LAFC mobile app, powered by Venuetize. We were thrilled to see the Club marketing it throughout the day – and encouraging fans to use it for tickets, paying for food and merchandise, and to navigate the space.

Many many thanks to the team at the Los Angeles Football Club for inviting our team to share in this momentous occasion. Check out more pictures from our visit.