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New research finds the atmosphere of UK sporting events is at risk

A survey of over 1,000 fans of the most popular sports found that queues are fans’ biggest pain point at matches

14 May 2019, London, UK – Research by Tappit, the only truly global cashless solution specialist for sports, festivals and entertainment venues, has found that fans’ enjoyment of sporting events is being significantly compromised by poor aspects of the match day experience.

The survey of over 1,000 UK fans of football, rugby, cricket and motorsports revealed that atmosphere is the best aspect of attending, no matter the sport. However, there are aspects of the sporting experience that are detracting from this, particularly the process of making purchases at the event. Long queues at food and drinks stands are considered the worst part of buying something at a match by 73% of football fans, 62% of rugby fans, 54% of cricket fans and 49% of motorsports fans.

In addition, the marketing that fans receive from clubs and venues does not do enough to foster loyalty, with many respondents feeling like they are being sent generic offers. This is particularly a problem for motorsports fans, 76% of whom would prefer to receive personalised marketing content based on their previous behaviour instead.

The research also highlights the areas in which organisers could improve the sporting experience for fans. The study found that the majority of fans across all sports would prefer to use contactless, NFC or prepaid cards or wristbands to pay for something at a match over cash, with 57% of football fans, 69% of rugby fans, 65% of cricket fans and 64% of motorsports fans expressing a preference for cashless payments.

The research comes at a time when there is an increasing amount of data demonstrating the sizable opportunity of sports in the UK. Data from Sport England values the UK sports industry at more than £20 billion, and recent research from Two Circles suggests that millennials are driving record levels of attendance, with ticket attendance for live sport in the UK reaching 74.6m in 2018, up from 69.4m in 2016 and 73.8m in 2017. The outlook for sports is healthy beyond the UK, as well – AT Kearney estimates that €450 billion is spent annually in the industry globally. For sports clubs and venues to capitalise on this opportunity, they need to provide an experience that meets – or even better, exceeds – fan expectations.

Tappit’s cashless RFID systems – where a prepaid wristband or card (often integrated into an existing season ticket) is used for entry and to purchase food, drinks and merchandise – are already improving many major sporting events. The solution offers up to 80% quicker transactions, reducing queueing times so fans don’t miss any of the action. Additionally, the system provides data on how fans are spending money at matches, including when, where and on what they are spending. The data collected through the system can be used to maximise revenues, target customers with personalised marketing offers, and improve operational efficiency related to stocking, pricing, staffing and more.

Jason Thomas, CEO of Tappit, said, “Our research shows that fans are clearly expecting more from their live sports experience. And while sectors like retail and hospitality are forging ahead with ways to enhance the consumer experience, there’s still more that sports clubs and venues can do. With more and more competition for people’s attention and spend, hopefully, this will be the wake-up call that the sports industry needs to ensure fans keep coming back for more.”

Read the full Sports Report 2019 here.

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