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Enhancing the Fan Experience with Oracle Hospitality and VenueNext

Gene Yasuda
Content Strategist

For stadium operators in the never-ending search for better ways to engage fans, their focus is increasingly turning to the almighty smartphone.

It’s arguably the most indispensable item carried by anyone, used for everything from depositing checks to hailing rides to taking selfies. Yet many teams still haven’t unleashed the full potential of the phone once brought into the confines of their venues.

The result? Countless opportunities to enhance the fan experience, increase loyalty – and, most importantly, boost sales – get benched.

At a time when tech-savvy millennials comprise the core of fan constituencies, it’s imperative for venue operators to pair point-of-sale platforms with mobile app technology. Oracle Hospitality POS solutions are uniquely engineered to evolve, embracing third-party innovations and seamlessly integrating with them for unparalleled performance.  For instance, the Oracle Simphony platform is integral in allowing venues to maximize the benefits of VenueNext’s connected venue technology, which includes smartphone apps for game day. With the power of VenueNext and Oracle, the apps transform phones into stadium remote controls, enabling fans to access a host of services, including food, drink and merchandise delivery to their seats and enhancing loyalty programs to reap more rewards.

The benefits are immediate for fans and operators:

  • Increase food and merchandise sales at events through mobile ordering
  • Generate new revenue streams
  • Improve the in-venue (or in-stadium) experience for both casual fans and season ticket holders
  • Transform any venue into a fully integrated, connected facility, enhancing fan engagement and increasing opportunities to gain greater knowledge about visitors and their preferences

“In every other aspect of their lives, fans now have 24/7, Wi-Fi connectivity to enrich whatever they do,” said Michael Lambert, AVP of Oracle Hospitality Sports and Entertainment. “Why should they be isolated when they come to stadiums? With the combined power of Oracle POS and VenueNext, we can deliver fans a better game experience and, just as importantly, gain incredible insights about them.”

Taking the live experience to a new level

Food and beverage continues to play a significant role in the fan experience, and leveraging the full capabilities of the Simphony POS platform can diminish the pain points and drawbacks of attending live events – primarily long lines that lead to interminable waits (and worse, missing key plays).  By capitalizing on POS integration, teams are now able to identify and connect with fans in new innovative ways that directly enhance the individual’s fan experience.

Pairing POS and mobile also is a proven means to boost food and beverage sales, likely yielding a greater return on investment than spending exorbitantly on video boards or pre-game entertainment. Such conclusions were among the key discoveries of the just-released report, The Fan Experience: Changing the Game with Food and Beverage.

The global study – published jointly by Oracle and Turnkey Intelligence, an industry-leading market research provider – surveyed more than 3,500 sports fans in eight countries: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom and United States. Key findings included:

  • More than 40% of sports fans worldwide reported abandoning concession lines in the past 12 months – without making a purchase – because of excessive waiting.
  • American fans, on average, said they would spend an additional $20 for food and beverage if wait times were cut in half – representing a 43% increase in typical expenditure (per party, per game).

Greater fan engagement = greater fan spending

Such opportunities already have been realized by venues that deployed the integrated technologies of Oracle and VenueNext.

Oracle POS solutions provide control and improve efficiencies of vital stadium operations, and they offer reporting and analytics capabilities to shape tomorrow’s business decisions. A foundational POS system enables integration with venue technology providers such as VenueNext, whose platform and accompanying apps help fans get the most out of their stadium experience and venue owners improve their business.

Among the most popular uses of VenueNext’s game day apps is in-seat ordering: It’s practically nirvana for fans because it allows them to order from their seats, meaning they won’t miss a single play or have to wait in snaking lines. VenueNext integration with Oracle POS enables content management and control systems to provide real-time updates of available menu items at each stand – and manage expectations by updating wait times. If fans prefer to pick up their order, the app can serve as a traffic controller and route them to an express pickup line, where the POS promptly processes and records the transaction. The latter activity enables operators to simultaneously run loyalty initiatives through the POS as well.

VenueNext, whose client portfolio now includes NBA, NFL and MLB franchises, has demonstrated the ROI on its technology platform: In its first season of use, an NFL client attributed a $2 million revenue increase to app-driven food, beverage, merchandise, parking and sponsorship sales.

It’s a win for fans and operators alike

From shorter concession lines to incremental revenue gains achieved by involving more fans (who otherwise would have skipped making purchases), multi-functional venue apps offer operators a bevy of benefits. But, arguably, the most important is their ability to nurture relationships with fans for the long term. For stadiums enhanced with Oracle and VenueNext, fans are no longer anonymous paper-ticket holders; they emerge as unique individuals whom operators can court with promotions and services tailored to their preferences and behaviors (captured via POS).

Through a new currency ecosystem based on integrating ticketing, loyalty and point of sale, season ticket holders can trade in tickets that they won’t use for “currency” to purchase perks – including seat upgrades, food and beverage, exclusive merchandise or access to special events. The exchange comes at no loss to the team, which can re-sell the tickets. But it keeps fans feeling as if they are “special” and their discretionary dollars circulating in the stadium economy.  This type of ecosystem requires a truly connected venue and is made possible through the integration of the Oracle Simphony and VenueNext platforms working together.

“Connecting the point-of-sale system directly to the guest’s mobile phone is a key enabler of this whole new experience,” said VenueNext CEO & Founder John Paul. “And together with Oracle, that’s one of the most important innovations we deliver — allowing venues to skip out on buying a lot of new expensive hardware and customers to enjoy seamless, secure and easy ways to pay at the venue.”

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