The In-Person New Fan Experience: Safety Is The Name Of The Game

The name of the game in sports reopening is fan safety: How does it differ now compared to before the Covid pandemic, and what measures are necessary for stadiums to implement to be successful? Brent Kocher, Chief Revenue Officer at Realife Tech, says it’ll take increased fan engagement, with spectators and venues working together to ensure we’re capitalising on the full potential of the new safety solutions



Sports fans are ready for the games to begin again: a June 2020 study conducted by ESPN showed that 78% of sports fans were in favour of sports resuming play despite restrictions on fan attendance, a double-digit increase on a poll conducted earlier in April. Now with stadiums and venues beginning to welcome fans back in limited capacities in the not too distant future, it’s important to not only discuss the types of Covid safety measures that are being implemented, but also why it will take a joint effort by venues and visitors to optimise these procedures and solutions for everyone’s health and enjoyment.


Although the industry as a whole doesn’t have all the answers yet about how to proceed through each phase through partial capacity to full attendance, the slow return will certainly serve as a litmus test for future policies and procedures. However, certain technology solutions can be put into place at each step in this process to ease the transition and ensure fans are as informed and engaged as possible. To be successful in reopening and keeping spectators, players, and staff safe, teams and venues will have to prioritise fan engagement from a whole new perspective: increasing fans’ active role in keeping themselves and others around them safe.


Tech solutions created to provide a more seamless and stress-free experience for fans must aim for increased fan engagement, taking into account both their safety and entertainment to mitigate potential health risks inside and around the venue, while ensuring their experience is still filled with fun and levity.


The New Normal

There’s no question that going to a football match used to be a carefree experience, where spectators had little to consider besides where their ticketed seats were, and what concessions they would snack on. Now, spectators and fans entering sports venues need to consider what time slot they’re scheduled to enter, where their seats are and how far away from others they are placed, exactly when they’d like to eat and drink, and where they are scheduled to exit.


At Realife Tech, we’ve developed a “Covid Safety Hub”, a range of mobile-based features that guide fans through new venue policies and procedures, with messaging delivered before, during, and after events. The tech features location-based safety alerts that share real-time information with fans, helping to control high traffic areas, reduce lines at entries and exits, and loosen crowd congestion. Fans who engage with this platform can adjust their actions depending on social distancing needs around them; for example, if the area they’d like to visit within the stadium is reaching capacity, or if the bathroom near them has a long line that would make distancing from others difficult, they can choose to avoid those areas and take another route to their desired destination. Many interactions we are used to having up close and personal will also go contactless, including touch-free mobile ticket scanning, as well as contactless ordering and collection of food, beverage, and merchandise items.


One of the most significant learning opportunities for stadiums and venues will be the single view of the customer across their journey, as the platform aggregates data from multiple systems including apps, ticketing, Wi-Fi, point-of-sale, digital advertising screens and access control points. Analysing and learning from the customer journey can help venues adjust future offerings and communications to provide an even more seamless experience moving forward, pivoting for current challenges and customer needs.


With smooth, consistent communication from venues about the details of all these processes through dedicated technology solutions, fans will be informed and empowered to make decisions throughout their day to keep themselves and their family & friends safe while having a fun experience and get back to enjoying their favourite pastime.