Mobility and the “Fan Experience”

I took my youngest son Ryan and my wife Lisa to a recent New York Red Bulls match vs. the Seattle Sounders at the new Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.I wanted to check out the new stadium, and of course some great soccer.

From a game perspective, the Red Bulls found themselves down just 16 minutes into the match when Adam Johansson’s cross was finished in the penalty area by Alvaro Fernandez. New York’s newly acquired striker, Sebastien Le Toux, scored eight minutes later when he pounced on a rebound given up by Sounders goalkeeper Bryan Meredith. In the end, it was a 2-2 draw.

As I was watching the game, I thought about some additional opportunities that would make the fan experience that much better. The stadium holds 25,000 and has three stadium clubs and two retail shops. I assessed the technology at the stadium, where they have invested in over 300 video flat-screens for event viewing so you don’t miss a play. They also have field-level L.E.D. signage in both end zones and opposite player benches.

From Big Screen to Mobile App

But fan expectations today go beyond big-screen viewing. I had my iPhone with me and thought wouldn’t it be great to have access to a series of mobile applications that could improve the fan experience and generate additional revenues for the team as well?

  1. Preferred Parking – Why not have an application that lets you reserve your parking spot on the way to the stadium? I would pay extra for a spot that enables me to beat the traffic after the match, wouldn’t you? A simple application that lets you register your parking spot as you arrive would work. You could have to pay for two if you are going to tailgate!
  2. Increase Apparel Sales – Think how awesome it would have been for my son Ryan to have a new Sebastien Le Toux #9 jersey on at the stadium the same day he makes his Red Bull debut and scores his first goal! That transaction is just a couple of clicks away from any portal. Pickup could take place at the nearest kiosk for added convenience.
  3. Following the Home Team – You’re sitting there without the game day program, but what about the game day program on your smartphone. A simple link to the starting eleven and substitutions — oh and of course my favorites, the formation, who is playing where, and maybe some insights as to why — would be nice. We could follow the stats as they unfold.
  4. Food and Beverage Orders – Imagine sitting in your seat and checking out the menu of the nearby vending station on your smartphone. You could pick out your burger and fries or grilled chicken sandwich, placing your order — and off you go.  No line, you are in the express lane! I can tell you for sure, since it was about 99 degrees that day, being first in line for ice cream would have been equal to the price of admission!
  5. Fan Analytics – In the end, sports teams want you to come out to the ballpark or stadium over and over again. They are delighted to see a packed house, but sometimes it’s really hard filling all the seats. Now, we were gifted the tickets, so we are not in any season ticket holder database. So, shouldn’t there be a mobile application out there that lets you register once you are at the stadium for a prize? It could be something as simple as a drawing that gives the information to marketing and places you on an acquisition list to help drive the win-win, season tickets, games packages, or single game tickets.

My “wish list of apps” for sports fans just touches the surface of what is possible – and of opportunities companies should be taking advantage of to interact with their customers. Real-time access to intelligence can radically change the way any company does business, be a sports franchise or corporate-owned theme park. It can help businesses respond to customers and get an edge over competitors.

Our Mobile Enterprise Applications Platform (AT&T MEAP) managed solution is one such solution. MEAP is a comprehensive suite of products and services that combine a software platform, hosting, professional services and managed services to design, build, and run dynamic enterprise mobile business applications. These applications include business-to-employee (B2E), business-to-consumer (B2C), and business-to-partner (B2P) applications for smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices.

What mobile applications do you see coming in the future? Or better yet, what business process will you focus on mobilizing and help drive your competitive advantage?
Michael Nigro Application Sales Manager AT&T About Michael