This blog was written by WBA member Hughes Systique Corporation (HSC).
Growing adoption and evolution of smartphones has had a significant impact on the sports and entertainment industries. A recent study by Cisco revealed that 57% of the fans prefer to watch sporting events at home as opposed to the real venues. At a time when millennials are leaning towards mobile and digital technology as their preferred channel for almost everything little and big, stadiums still offer something stimulating and non-replicable that can be leveraged for good – “A total fan experience”.
In order to impart a total fan experience, sports venues need to make a significant shift from traditional ways of operating to modern technology-aided modes. In today’s world, being receptive to new technology is not enough anymore, rather it’s of utmost importance to be capable of anticipating the changes in business scenarios and revolutionizing the customer-service to provide an enticing digital experience to the fans, prompting them to leave the comfort of their homes.
In this journey of digital transformation, HSC’s Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) solution can play an important part by helping sports venues with new avenues for digital engagement and monetization strategies while delivering a differentiated experience to their fans.
Identify your fans
To begin with, the most basic need for the venues is to know the fans who are present within their premises at any given time. The paper tickets of older days and even the online tickets today are mostly anonymous and transferrable, making it nearly impossible to track the fans that were in the stadium for any match. NGH can assist these venues in knowing the demographics of the fans that are coming to their events. It presents them with an additional channel to engage with their visitors and empowers them to connect with the same fans for future events too.
By 2021, there will be more that nearly 12 billion mobile-connected devices, highlighting new opportunities for consumer engagement
NGH, based on Hotspot2.0 technology, provides cellular like experience to end-users in Wi-Fi networks via seamless and secure onboarding. It requires end-users to register onto the network as a one-time process to provision their devices with a Wi-Fi profile. During provisioning of devices, various information could be solicited from the fans such as name, email, mob#, etc. Any fan with a provisioned device would be recognized whenever he comes near the Wi-Fi network and thus providing this useful information to the venues.
Provide a frictionless Wi-Fi Experience
In the present day Wi-Fi networks, the end-users struggle right from finding the valid network (manual selection of SSID) to figuring out the ways to connect to and access the internet. The traditional captive portal is sometimes so painful that users just choose to skip joining the network altogether. To make things even worse, end-users go through this agony of manually connecting to the same Wi-Fi network every time they enter the network.
NGH provides an end-to-end solution for venues to enhance the process of finding, gaining access and roaming in Wi-Fi networks to provide an “Always on Wi-Fi” experience for fans. With multiple out of the band and easy to deploy mechanisms to provision the HS2.0 profile on to the devices, fans can register and provision their device even before reaching the venues. They would enjoy frictionless wifi experience by being able to automatically connect to the authorized networks without any manual intervention required whenever they are at the venue. Along with the frictionless onboarding, NGH enforces enterprise-grade security (WPA 2/3 security protocol) for user authentication and eliminates the threats of rouge networks.
Venues can also promote the download of their app and provide app-based seamless wi-fi access to their fans. They may even partner with sports teams/leagues to embed NGH SDK into their respective apps for seamless wi-fi access to all the fans that have those apps installed.
Keep your fans connected
With large and crowded venues forming a dense environment, the concentrated use of data applications can strain the capabilities of mobile networks and interfere with voice and text services. This may have a negative impact on the overall fan experience at the venues as most of them look forward to sharing their experiences and engage with friends and followers on social media while they are at the event, not after.
97% of fans bring a mobile device to events, and they expect to be connected
With NGH, Wi-Fi networks within the venues can provide increased coverage or capacity needed to accommodate data service offload. Devices will be able to seamlessly roam between Wi-Fi hotspots and the cellular network, and, the profile-based authentication using a SIM card requires no intervention from users.
Fans enjoy smooth and uninterrupted connectivity, and venues enjoy new monetization opportunities from roaming agreements, increased subscriber base, and promotional ads. Service providers such as AT&T also gain with increased customer satisfaction because their expensive licensed network is no longer burdened with bandwidth-hungry data applications making the voice calls and texting work again.
Keep your fans engaged
Venues need to be on their toes to deliver rich, real-time interactions with an element of personalization to keep their customers engaged.
70% of fans want to receive Ads and Promotions on mobile devices when engaged with relevant event content
One of the key differentiators of HSC’s NGH solution is its ability to push location-based advertisements (via proximity marketing) to fans which bring an additional source of revenue for venues and sponsors. It extends the reach of their advertising beyond the big screen and the concourse TVs to smartphone users without the need for any application to be installed onto the devices (APP-less marketing).
Based on the current location of any fan, venues can send them merchandise discounts for the nearest stall or can send them a link to order food online to all the fans waiting in queue for ordering food.
Offer your fans an exclusive experience
NGH also opens new business opportunities for the venues by empowering them with useful network insights using the current wi-fi infrastructure and independent of network equipment vendors. It helps venues in understanding their visitors through their network usage patterns via a WiFi Analytics component. Venues can get the population density in various sections of the stadiums using heatmaps.
Over 80% of fans desire a more immersive and content rich experience when attending a live event.
Utilizing these information pieces, venues can create engaging mobile applications and stitch together a memorable fan experience. They can provide exclusive in-venue helpful information to fans such as how long the nearest bathroom wait is going to be or a map of the stadium or a smart way to find the patron seat based on his location.
NGH also enables venues to provide distinguished end-user experience via implementing policy controls for differentiated QoS to different users e.g. all the season pass holders could be routed for a premium wi-fi service instead of the regular wi-fi service for non-season pass holders.