Could you use stadium/arena digital signage to be more profitable?
Stadium and arena management is a tough balancing act. There are so many considerations and competing priorities, that making even small changes inevitably involves risk to operational efficiency and therefore profitability.
However, technology is evolving all the time and there are lots of opportunities for ‘easy wins’ that can help you become more efficient and profitable. So, how do you know what technology you should be using, where and when?
Raising the bar on stadium standards
Newer stadiums, like Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspurs, have used technology to develop a luxurious match-going experience that keeps fans coming back, and to market their venue for hosting non-football events.
Other stadia are using stand expansion to try out new ideas and make improvements. Because the changes are in a limited space, the technology purchase cost is limited, and they can gauge success before choosing to make the same changes across the board.
As a result, the improvements some stadia are making has ‘raised the bar’, elevating fans’ expectations and making older stadiums and arenas that haven’t adopted a more modern approach look more outdated.
As such, many stadia/arena managers are starting to look at what they can do to ‘raise their game’ and improve visitors’ experience, whilst also maximising profitability, and are turning to digital signage.
Stadium digital signage applications
Digital signage used to be seen as an expensive luxury, but is increasingly being adopted because it gives older stadia and arenas a new lease of life. It can deliver operational efficiency benefits, is easy to retrofit, and there are now more finance packages available help to spread the initial cost of investment.
So how should you use it? Well, digital signage is often perceived as being purely a marketing tool, but it’s more accurate to think of it as a flexible problem-solving tool. This is because one display can be used to tackle various issues at once, simply by changing the content that appears on it.
Pitchside digital advertising boards are a pretty standard use, so here are some other ways that it can be used to improve operational efficiency, facilitate marketing initiatives/activity, and increase venue hire uptake at stadia and arenas.
Outdoor Stadium Digital Signage
Wayfinding at any large venue is confusing. At a stadium or arena this is made more difficult by the scale of the site, the volume of people moving in different directions, and unique naming and numbering conventions. At peak times, static wall signs aren’t always visible through the crowds. Because of their shape and having multiple entrances, stadiums often require some knowledge of the venue to be able to navigate, which disadvantages first time visitors.
Whilst we can’t pretend that digital signage can eradicate wayfinding problems entirely, it can be used to reduce the reliance on stewards to alleviate them. Outdoor digital signage can be used to supplement static signage by guiding fans in the direction they need to go, by giving more specific stand/block information, either presented as table or by changing the display every 10 seconds.
Outdoor digital signage can be used to highlight security regulations, for example, items that visitors are not permitted to bring into the stadium, or restrictions on bag size. This will encourage visitors to dispose of banned items before reaching security checks, keeping the queues flowing faster.
Clear disclosure of the rules before visitors join a queue will also avoid security staff having to regularly explain/debate the restrictions with those contravening them, because they appear to come from the venue, not individual security staff.
Promoting forthcoming events
When not providing wayfinding information during the match/concert, the content on outdoor displays can be changed and used to promote multiple forthcoming fixtures and events.
This can be through displaying a diary of events, then showing event-specific content. Where appropriate, the timing/frequency of event promotion can be adjusted in line with the demographics of passing footfall at different times of the day/week to make them more targeted at specific audiences.
Third party advertising revenue
If your outdoor digital signage is visible to a decent volume of passing footfall, you can charge third parties to pay to advertise on the screens, bringing in an additional revenue stream when the stadium/arena is not in use.
Many digital signage content management systems (e.g. Saturnvision, our own software) give you the ability to provide ‘proof of play’ so the advertiser is given exact details on how many times and on what days their advisements appeared.
Indoor digital signage
Stadium food & beverage outlets
Queueing at food and beverage counters within stadiums and arenas is pretty unavoidable, but dissatisfaction at long wait times (and visitors subsequently avoiding purchasing from them) is not.
Often queues build up when items on the menu are unavailable and visitors are told they need to make an alternative selection. The decision-making time to re-read the menu and pick something else, when multiplied by hundreds or thousands of people can exacerbate the length of queues. By integrating EPOS system technology with displays, digital menu boards can be kept up to date with prices being updated and out-of-stock items being removed on the displays automatically.
Furthermore, by using attractive animation and/or product images, and screen synchronisation, displays can also be used to highlight and sell more of your most profitable items whilst also displaying the necessary price list.
Where queues do occur at food and beverage counters, digital signage has been proven to serve as a distraction and decrease people’s perceived wait time whilst queueing, reducing people’s dissatisfaction levels and the likelihood of complaining to busy serving staff, which can further exacerbate queues.
Inside the venue, if touchscreen displays are used, they can be multi-purpose. Screens can be split in half to make them dual purpose. One half can show advertising (generating additional revenue streams or promoting forthcoming events/merchandise). The lower half can show an interactive self-service wayfinding facility (e.g. giving visitors custom directions to their seat, or the nearest toilets/merchandise stall).
If using touch screen displays for wayfinding and/or advertising inside the arena/stadium, they needn’t be a one-trick pony. The user interface can be used to encourage visitors to do a number of things like sign up for a club mailing list, or shop for merchandise that’s available to buy on-site.
The idea of ‘virtual selfies’ with sportsmen and women and musicians is relatively new in the UK but has proven popular as a fan engagement tool at large sporting matches. Within your digital signage user interface for wayfinding and/or email sign-up etc. you can offer social media photo opportunities on demand. Digital signage screens can show a menu of possible virtual selfies (e.g. different players/artists) which people can select from. Lifesize photos of the relevant players/musicians then appear on the display in a pose that lets fans take a ‘virtual selfie’ alongside them at the venue where they’re watching the game or concert. This can increase fan engagement with club/venue social media accounts – especially if there is a competition associated with taking the best photo – and make it look like a fun experience to friends who wouldn’t normally attend a match.
Whether it’s conferences, weddings or exhibitions or corporate parties, venue hire is a a very profitable revenue stream but also a highy competitive business. Digital signage can be used to upgrade your venue’s conference facilities and make it more appealling.
Digital signage can be used to make running an event easier, giving visitors directions, displaying an agenda, and seating plans which can be changed at the last minute. Displays can also be used to keep events running to time by giving instuction on where to be and when (e.g. ‘coffee break finishes in 5 minutes’, ‘please return to your seat’). All of which are very appealling to event managers, and will make your event space more appealling.
Because they are so flexible, digital displays can also enable event managers/brides to personalise a venue, displaying whatever imagery/content they want and altering/enhancing the atmosphere/aesthetic they want to create. This can be demonstrated to people vetting the venue by showing sample content on the screens during the venue tour or by giving them a personalised welcome upon arrival.
Reducing your risk when investing in stadium digital signage
One of the great benefits of digital stadium signage is that it is so flexible and can be adapted for almost anything you can think of. Would you like to greet fans to the stadium with video messages from their heroes? Set up screens to take a virtual selfie with their favourite player? Advertise upcoming events at the stadium? Digital signage displays allow you to do that and much more.
But how do you make sure that your stadium digital signage delivers a good ROI for your outlay? The simple answer is, get help from specialists.
A good digital signage consultancy will ask what your operational issues and ambitions are, as well as what budget you have to work with. They’ll want to visit your site so they can see what the challenges and opportunities are for themselves. They should then work with you on how to prioritise your investment and come up with creative ideas to help you get maximum value for money from your investment.
A good consultancy should also be able to suggest a pilot or staged plan to help you test and ascertain the return on investment you’re likely to get from different types of uses for digital signage before committing to a large scale investment.
To find out more about how stadium digital signage could revolutionise your stadium or arena, get in touch.
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