The rapid growth in smartphone usage is set to increase with the advent of electronic ticketing for sporting and entertainment events. Mobile ticketing is nothing new, especially in the transport industry where users are choosing to travel with electronic tickets and shunning traditional paper tickets. This change is set to be adopted by the sporting industry where event providers are increasingly looking to find ways to improve their attendees ticketing experience and at the same time increase safety and security. Mobile access control technology that supports Bluetooth Smart and NFC is the technology behind this evolution. It allows fans to securely and conveniently enter football fixtures with their smartphones, while also enabling smart devices to be used for a range of other applications such as purchasing food and drinks at vending machines.
Several major American football stadiums and associated sports teams have already implemented mobile ticketing and with fans entering stadiums via mobile access provisions and this trend is set to carry over into Europe. According to a recent report from Juniper Research, mobile tickets are expected to account for more than one in two ticket transactions on digital platforms by 2019. With stadium owners looking to increasingly utilise the latest technology to improve their grounds and enhance the user experience, mobile ticketing looks set to take off. By understanding some of the key benefits in the adoption of e-tickets, stadium and fan experience managers can begin to implement technology that brings a host of advantages to fans as well as security improvements to stadium operators.
Whilst the first and foremost use of a ticket is to provide access to and from the stadium grounds, by using their mobile, users can have a whole host of additional functions inside the grounds which are set to increase the user experience throughout the day. No longer will the mobile just be another object in your pocket, it will now be a gateway device to stadium garages, the grounds, food and drink services, a security pass and an interactive device throughout the day. After using the e-ticket to access the grounds, users will be able to make purchases made within the stadium directly from their phone, find their seats more clearly with an interactive map, order food directly to their seats and beat the long half-time queues, locate the nearest toilet and emergency exit and interact with additional features within the stadium as a whole. By bringing a truly interactive experience to sporting fixtures, users can enjoy a better experience and also be rewarded by their sports team for their loyalty.
Teams will be able to reward their loyal fans directly through the app, and who does not love a loyalty reward scheme? Instead of collecting air miles on flights, loyal fans are rewarded with points that can be used for in-stadium purchases. The stadium management can incorporate a host of additional extras like a round of drinks for the next game, or premium offers such as last minute ticket discounts, VIP experiences and more to ensure brand loyalty is constantly incentivised amongst fans. Specific push notifications can be enabled to keep fans up-to-date with the latest team information, helping to boost team loyalty. By increasing the users experience through loyalty and streamlined services and interaction within the stadium, users are also protected from fraudulent and overpriced value tickets.
By having e-tickets verified on a mobile device through the authentic team app, ticket touts will no longer be able to resell tickets outside the stadium and online at highly inflated prices. Any fan knows the prevalence of touts selling tickets lead many a dedicated fan, who was unable to get hold of original tickets, paying extortionate prices for tickets they’re not even sure are genuine. Stadium organisers will also be able to tell who has purchased their tickets through the app, similar to airlines, and will be able to locate anybody with previous instances of disruptive or violent behaviour. Stadium managers can then take the appropriate action but can also employ the loyalty rewards scheme for good behaviour.
With e-ticketing, users are guaranteed to keep their ticket on them at all times in the guise of their smartphone. Gone are the days when tickets fall out of coat pockets or get left in the pub before the game. Multiple ticket holders, for family or groups, will be able to transfer tickets to each other via the app or store them all for the specific game on the day, further helping to remove the stress of ensuring multiple paper tickets are kept safe.
While some fans are already migrating to e-tickets, many will be hesitant to make the move through one reason or another. What happens when my smartphone runs out of battery? Will my ticket still work with a shattered screen? I am still using my Nokia 3510, will I still be able to attend games? One of the more common arguments for paper tickets is the desire to retain the physical ticket as a keepsake to remember the game. With the development of e-tickets however, stadium organisers are able to integrate many additional features, one of which could be the issuance of memorabilia tickets that can be stored within the app. Alternatively, tickets could be sent out post-match to e-ticket users who request a printed version, complete with the final score.
By reducing the need to print and mail tickets, organisers are saving huge sums of money on logistics that can in turn be funnelled back into the stadium to further enhance the users experience and benefit the attendees as a whole. Additionally the reduction in paper consumed is having a positive environmental impact as well. As consumers and organisers become more conscious of their overall environmental impact, this is likely to be seen as a big factor in the shift from paper to electronic tickets.
With stadium managers always looking to make their fans sports day experience easier, yet still provide a high level of service, mobile ticketing and stadium apps are set to change things for the better. Reward points will bring a new level of engagement and make fans feel more valued and part of the overall team experience. Mobile app users are protecting themselves from fraudulent tickets that are so often circulated at events, and the reduction in the second-hand selloff of tickets will stop fans from paying above market price. The increasing use of technology in stadiums, including smartphone access, is set to enrich the sports fans overall experience and guarantee them coming back for more.
Harm Radstaak is Vice President and Managing Director of Physical Access Control Solutions with HID Global.