July 07, 2015

Think like the Customer: Wi-Fi and Monetization Strategies in Sports Venues

Fan Blog-Blog-Image_v2

Fan Blog-Blog-Image_v2

Like any emerging technology, developing an effective strategy for monetizing mobile services requires a logical series of phases; as the title of this blog also suggests it requires organizations to think like the customer. This may come across as cliché or even oversimplified, but without serious emphasis on the user experience any mobile engagement and activation strategy for the sake of monetization will fall flat. So how does this specifically apply to Wi-Fi solutions in-venue?

It’s unreasonable to assume that a sports team or university will establish a strong and consistent monetary return on a Wi-Fi network immediately after going live. Was Uber valued (by some recent estimates) at $50 billion immediately after it launched? Absolutely not, it gradually established itself to consumers as a company that delivered a reliable and trustworthy service; it also unlocked immediate value and convenience to the consumer, driven by effective mobile user workflow seamless engagement. You can’t run before you crawl, and an organization can’t build a guaranteed revenue model before “buying-in” both organizationally and financially in a Wi-Fi investment strategy.

To emphasize the need for investing in a Wi-Fi asset that is owned and operated by the Stadium, we first need to understand where we started. The first generation of public facing Wi-Fi solutions were predominately designed and delivered by carriers as a need to alleviate cellular bandwidth congestion. The tactic of offloading data onto the Wi-Fi network has commonly been used by the Carriers as a complimentary measure to ensure the availability and performance of the in-venue DAS solution. While this performance benefit still exists today, the carrier led model has become less attractive as venue operators and owners have recognized the value of owning the asset for access to their fans; notably, the ability to gain insight into the mobile engagement patterns of their participating fan base. Additionally, many carrier led Wi-Fi solutions were not designed to support the anticipated growth and capacity demands of tens of thousands of current users simultaneously transmitting data. The resulting poor Wi-Fi service discouraged fan usage and conditioned even the savviest mobile users to avoid connecting. On the same token, the organization had little or no control over the Carrier’s “unusable” Wi-Fi service, causing unavoidable consternation by its ticketholders. Organizations have quickly recognized this dilemma: a fan expectation that Wireless services are available and usable, and now understand the need to own and control their own Wi-Fi asset.

The benefits to owning and operating an independent Wi-Fi network continue to be evaluated and discussed amongst venue owners/operators. Many of the discussions start with the desired outcome of understanding the fan engagement patterns through having access to mobile usage analytics of those active mobile users in-venue. By measuring user engagement patterns, mobile usage, and overall wireless performance in the venue, organizations begin developing a deeper understanding of their fan base and how they can increase loyalty and engagement, through new mobile services. This lays the foundation for new ways of activation through contextual mobile engagement.

Wi-Fi connectivity that fans can rely on, with transparent access to mobile insights, allows venue operators to remove the guesswork out of marketing, helping the business determine who, what, and where during the event. Leveraging this information with an integrated mobile engagement and activation platform, marketers have the ability to target the right content, at the right time, to the right mobile user – all in real time. This contextual strategy significantly increases the probability of buying propensity and new revenue sources for the business.

Make it convenient for fans to interact with your brand throughout the entire game day experience – before, during, and after the game (or event) with relevant and appropriate content supported by a Wi-Fi network. Increase your loyalty and incentivize return customers with the level of convenience they anticipate every day through mobile-enabled services. Utilize promotions and advertising to generate personalized offers that not only generate revenue but also increase customer satisfaction and repeat engagements. Lastly, make it convenient and seamless for customer purchases in terms of workflow by connecting it to third party payment tools that remove the need to physically take out your wallet with each transaction.

Combined, create an unforgettable game day experience for fans and a smarter monetization strategy for you.

 

Interested in learning more about Extreme Networks high-density solutions for stadium venues? Read how Baylor University optimizes fan experiences with professional grade Wi-Fi.

About The Contributor:
John BramsDirector, Sports and Entertainment

John is the Director of Sports and Entertainment for Extreme Networks. He has over 19 years of experience in the data networking and security space. In his current role at Extreme Networks, John leads the Sports and Entertainment Business Unit. His team is responsible for handling all aspects of account management (including strategic planning, product development, and engineering), design, implementation, and support of HD Wi-Fi technology in stadiums and arenas. John started his career with Cabletron in 1994 and has held several positions throughout his tenure including sales leadership, business development and national account management. He earned his B.S. degree in Business Administration from the Whittemore School of Business at the University of New Hampshire.

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