The effects of the pandemic represent an unprecedented challenge for sports organizations across the world.
For example, a recent study by Deloitte shows how Swiss professional football has been affected. The findings demonstrate that the pandemic hit the Swiss Super League to the core, because the ghost games caused revenue to collapse on match days. While the clubs of the European top leagues are less dependent on the income from match days, mainly thanks to the marketing of media rights, the dependence of the Swiss clubs on viewer income is glaring.
But as stated by Swiss Olympic the latest announcement by the Confederation allowing for outdoor competitions held with a maximum of 50 participants in all disciplines is an important step towards the new normal. But how will this look like?
A recent Oracle sports survey called “Back in the Arena” on a sample of 3,000 people across the globe revealed their feelings about a possible return to the stadiums in 2021. Unsurprisingly, almost everyone (83%) felt the lack of face-to-face events, with 37% of respondents saying they miss the buzz or atmosphere associated with them or 22% missing the sense of community and exchange with other fans.
The good news is that fans are more optimistic than ever about returning to the stadium: more than a quarter of them now say they will attend live events as soon as they get the chance. However, this is not the case for all groups, and baby boomers seem the least willing to return to the stadium immediately, with nearly 50% saying they would stay away for now. This is an opportunity for sports organizations to reinvent themselves.
Data is at the heart of a successful fan experience
Fans aren't willing to improvise-they want to be able to plan their itinerary and experience in advance to reduce the stress of G-Day. That's why offering pre-purchase options for food, beverages and merchandise will become essential to driving sales in the near future. It is therefore clear that building partnerships and using technology to engage fans will de facto enhance their experience and undoubtedly create new revenue streams for sports organizations.
In the stadium as a fan we are all looking for convenience and comfort. That's why investing in technologies such as self-service kiosks, mobile payments or in-stadium interactivity become essential.
But that's not all, in today's environment, our expectations for cleanliness, security measures and personal space have changed dramatically. Seating arrangements, for example, are considered an absolute necessity. So with the right mix of personalization, preference management and real-time data access, it is now possible to improve crowd management while increasing game day revenues.
Avoiding close contact with large crowds will be a top priority for fans next year. Customers who want to avoid rush hours and crowds will be looking for additional dining and entertainment options.
Creating a network of bars and restaurants in your area, strategically located for transportation, will be key to creating additional revenue streams.
Finally, the experience extends to the home. Many have expressed interest in drone deliveries, game day packages, and more.
Switzerland is home to many sports federations and associations and is also a very innovative country with a strong startup community. There are some exciting initiatives to foster innovation, and in this area, the role of technology is key.
Some organizations are already leading the way in ensuring that every engagement is contextual, individualized and differentiated.
The Lausanne-based International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) is the global governing body for volleyball, responsible for the sport and its development worldwide. Oracle supports the FIVB's digital transformation to optimize the fan experience across all channels and touch points (web, TV and mobile), as well as its ongoing quest for new approaches to improve the customer experience. Our technology allows marketers to collect detailed information about fans, with their permission, which they can use to tailor individual messages. If the marketer knows a fan's favorite player, they can send personalized messages to that fan. That's how content on their Volleyball World site can be personalized and tailored based on fan interaction.
The COVID 19 pandemic has posed major challenges for the sports industry, also in terms of keeping the connection with the fan base. This is one of the reasons why the European Handball Federation (EHF) could hardly have found a better time to push ahead with its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) project. Oracle and primeone business solutions have provided the EHF with suitable platform and software solutions that will enable Europe's handball umbrella organisation to communicate better and more directly with its fans in the future. The Federation uses the Oracle Marketing Cloud (Responsys) applications, which allows the EHF to segment and better target fan groups and Oracle Infinity Behavioural Intelligence, which provides a personalised online experience. Fans thus receive the right content in the right form at the right time. With Oracle Identity, the desire for a single sign-on platform is fulfilled, enabling seamless transition between the different elements of CRM, increasing opportunities for cross-promotion. To connect the new cloud environment with the EHF's old on-premises infrastructure, they also decided to use Oracle Integration and Process Cloud. Integrations can be made available in a matter of days instead of weeks due to the countless adapters.
It is clear that sports organizations will continue to have to reinvent themselves and innovate to keep their fans and one thing is for sure, as a fan we are all excited about what sports 2.0 has in store for us in the near future.