Despite our pleas for an eternal summer, the season will shortly be coming to an end.
And while the festival season is winding down, the sporting season is gearing up for their 2019/2020 fixtures. While we shed our festival gear and dig out our match scarves, let’s take a look at a few things stadia and year-round venues can learn from festivals.
1. Customer flow shouldn’t be left to chance.
At best, long queues to get into an event can cause a few grumbles and moans, but at worst, poor event flow management can put your customers in harm’s way. Don’t risk ruining the customer experience before your attendees even get to their seats. Make sure there are plenty of entrance gates or doors open and that any entry requirements (like bag restrictions or ID requirements) have been clearly communicated across multiple channels well in advance. Signage is also important to take into consideration to avoid confusion and bottleneck.
2. The easier you make it for customers to buy things, the more they’ll buy.
Sluggish queues at food, drink and merchandise kiosks are impacting your bottom line more than you might think. Many festivals have discovered the cure to long queues: eliminating cash. Without the delay of cash handling or the inconsistency of credit card systems in areas with poor network connectivity, transactions are significantly faster (by about 80%, in fact). By making your stadium cashless, you could see a natural lift in sales by up to 20% just by getting fans through the queues faster. And, with shorter queues, they’re more likely to come back to make repeat purchases. This is especially important for stadia with limited concessions times (looking at you, UK football).
3. Don’t take your customers for granted.
Festival organisers have discovered that they can capitalise on repeat customers by offering presale tickets and VIP packages to those who attend their event year after year. Of course stadia organisers value their season ticket holders, but do you have a system in place to move your casual fans up the loyalty ladder?
Additionally, remember that every fan has the potential to be your brand’s biggest asset or your biggest PR disaster. Be sure to treat each fan as if they’re a social media influencer (for all you know, they could be!). This means customer service should be top-notch in all areas of your stadium, from hospitality boxes to the upper deck.
4. Elevate the end-to-end fan experience through customer engagement.
On a related note, take a page out of the festival playbook when it comes to atmosphere and fan engagement. Festivals build exciting new worlds for their customers, creating a feeling of escapism, adventure and – most importantly for event organisers – a sense of identity. Tomorrowland is the champion of creating a unique experience for their customers – they call their attendees “People of Tomorrowland”, they build completely immersive event themes, and they even have their own form currency. All of this mesmerising fanfare does more for the festival than make it “Instagrammable” – it draws their customers together and makes them feel like they actively play a role in the experience.
Stadia and venues should incorporate this concept into their fanbase. While you might not be able to build your own “world”, you can certainly create spaces where your customers can develop their sense of identity as fans. Loyalty schemes and points programmes are one example, and these can be taken one step further through creative gamification. What if customers were able to unlock achievements as they make purchases? Not only will you increase your sales, but you’ll be making the experience more memorable for your fans.
There are many important lessons stadia and venues can learn from their festival counterparts. While you’re looking forward to next season, take a moment to look back at this summer’s top festivals and see what ideas you can tweak and improve to make your own.