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A great fan experience is about more than just the event

By Monnie Johnson

This blog is part of a series exploring some of the findings uncovered by our recent research report, Sports, gaming and rock & roll: Connectivity and the fan experience.

What do fans take away from the events they attend? Headline acts and sports games draw people to a venue, but exceptional experiences begin well before the event starts. And connectivity is a key factor. Can attendees quickly and easily find and pay for parking spots? Will they be stuck in an endless line to get into the venue due to slow ticket scanners? Will they miss the opening kick-off/act? Forward-thinking stadiums and arenas are elevating the fan journey from start to finish, ensuring their events are memorable. For the right reasons.

Fans don’t want to wait in line

Easy, frictionless entry is key to kicking off the event experience on the right foot. For those driving, it starts in the parking lot, with smart sensors guiding drivers to open spots and easy payment options that get fans to the front gates as quickly as possible. For half of fans, the wait time to enter venues is one of the top three most important factors to enjoying an event - 55% said they’d be more likely to come back for another event if getting in and out of the venue is fast and seamless.

As fans make their way to the front gates, venues must be prepared to support digital ticketing. Physical tickets are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Only 31% of fans we spoke to had used one recently. In comparison, 77% had used digital tickets. Why? It’s simple, digital tickets are more convenient, and they prevent ticket loss.

How else can digital tickets get fans to the action faster? By enabling timed entry. Advanced options like the facial-recognition systems used in New York’s Citi Field can allow registered fans to just walk right in, virtually eliminating lines. But to enable that, the right venue infrastructure needs to be set up to handle digital tickets effectively. We saw what happened when it’s not done right at Emirates Stadium in London. A server error prevented fans at a 2023 Arsenal match from getting into the venue, forcing a major delay to the kickoff.

Fans arrive early and ready to be entertained

Live events provide unique experiences fans can’t get at home, and most event-goers give themselves plenty of time to enjoy all the amenities a venue has to offer. When we surveyed fans in the US and UK, we found that most arrive almost an hour ahead of time. Some arrive even earlier, with more than two-thirds (37%) getting there with an hour or more to spare.

Most fans show up to events ready to dive into the action. Nearly half of fans research food and drink options in and around the venue before they head out – and again while they’re on their way. They’re looking for ways to streamline their experience, identifying where they can park, what hotels are nearby, and what merchandise they can buy. Once they arrive, half of fans make a beeline for their favorite snack vendors before they do anything else. Smart digital signage can lead the way, like it does at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. Signs provide wayfinding information that can be quickly updated to prevent overcrowding by rerouting traffic through the venue, or to provide event-specific information.

Fans are also looking to share their experience with their social circles. About one-third (31%) post or check in to social media right away. Attractions like selfie walls and interactive games give fans something to post and brag about online, especially if venues are leveraging augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) experiences. Whether fans take Instaworthy selfies with lifelike AR avatars of their favorite band or take their best shot against their team’s goalkeeper on a VR pitch, connectivity ensures venues can deliver more of what fans want – while driving additional in-venue revenue.

A great experience requires great connectivity

Getting fans inside quickly, giving them plenty to do once they arrive, as well as ensuring a timely and safe exit is vital to the total fan experience. Every second a fan is stuck in line is time that could be spent having fun – and driving in-venue profitability. To achieve this, parking and event tickets need to be scanned quickly and without glitches. Fans want to connect to the network every time. Interactive games and experiences need to run smoothly with no lag.

Forward-thinking venues agree that excellent connectivity is the key to unlocking lasting fan loyalty. By teaming up with a shared infrastructure partner like Boldyn Networks, venues can establish the wireless connectivity that gives fans great experiences and keeps them coming back for more.

Contact us to learn more about how connectivity is redefining the fan experience at sports and entertainment venues.

Want to learn more?

We are focused on improving connectivity, from start to finish. With fans’ increased expectations and ever-changing needs, enhanced connectivity is the answer. Discover more about our key findings and take live events to the next level.