3 Ways Venues Monetize Stadium WiFi

WiFi is no longer a nice perk for stadiums and arenas—it’s a must. With the popularity of photo and video-driven apps like Snapchat and Instagram, along with file sizes getting better with every new high-res iPhone camera, fans expect to be connected at every game or concert with blazing fast speeds.

Venues are taking up the challenge. The NFL, for example, went from 12 stadiums without WiFi three years ago, down to only two, both of which will be replacing their stadiums entirely. That said, the NFL made a concerted effort to deploy WiFi across their teams. Also, merely having WiFi doesn’t necessarily mean that it meets the data demands crowds put on it. Mobile Sports Report has new stories almost daily about new installations and network upgrades.

But beyond providing a better fan experience and helping fans connect to the internet (and give their friends serious FOMO), WiFi’s helping teams around the world connect to their fans, even after they log off. Regardless of where you’re at on the WiFi spectrum: researching, upgrading, or already up and running, here’s how to make the most of it.

Enable access to mobile apps

Just because someone’s on their phone, doesn’t mean they have to be disengaged from your event. So teams, festivals, and others create one-stop shop apps they drive fans throughout the game to keep them engaged. The problem with a one-stop shop? The more the app tries to do, the more data it takes to do it or download the app in the first place. With limited data plans or 100,000 people trying to use their cell service at once, lacking WiFi is a surefire way to get fans to ignore your app.

Why do you want people in your app?

  • animation showing fan getting food through a mobile appIncrease food and merchandise sales: MasterCard’s Qkr app allows fans to order food and get it delivered straight to their seat, showing a marked increase in food and beverage sales.
  • Sell upgrades mid-game: The MLB’s Ballpark app uses fans’ information to offer them upgrades when pricier seats sit unsat.
  • Reach fans with personalized messaging: Push notifications from apps can alert fans to offers based on their past interactions within the app, or like the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, help fans find concessions, restrooms, or even their seat.

Then, of course, there’s the data. First off, apps help venues narrow in on fan interests before, during, and after the game (e.g., what merchandise gets viewed by certain groups of ticket holders, what bathrooms get the most traffic). Forms and social authentication can also gate high-value content to learn increasingly more about fans. For example, fans may be required to log in through Facebook to gain additional sweepstakes entries for a locker room tour.

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Eliminating the anonymity of paper stubs

While more and more teams move toward mobile tickets, physical stubs are nowhere near gone. That combined with the secondary market makes it difficult for venues to know who’s actually in the arena, and thus who they should target for tickets to future games.

Fans logging into the venue’s app can help alleviate this, but won’t give a complete picture. The first reason is because out-of-venue people might log into the app to watch replays or get other content, you’ll have to filter out a lot of noise. The second is that not everyone who’s in your stadium will log into or download your app.

Having a basic form to log onto your network with name and email, along with an opt in checkbox to receive communications can add fans who didn’t buy a ticket directly from you. If you then drive those fans to your app (e.g., redirecting them to the app store after they log on), you can learn more about their in-venue behavior, even if they don’t also log into the app. Without past ticketing behavior, even the day of the week they log onto your network helps, since you can then target them for midweek games vs weekend games or vice-versa.

Learning more about your ticket buyers

animation showing data collection through a simple wifi login

Finally, let’s say that you do know a ticket buyer is in the stadium. How much do you know about them if they’re not sending you behavioral signals through your app? WiFi offers a few ways to add valuable data points beyond a basic form-fill in your app. The quickest way to the most data points is through social authentication. Facebook login can offer name, email, birthday, and all of someone’s Facebook likes. It might not be readily apparent why likes would be valuable, but it can help in honing in on interests of event-goers (e.g., affinities for opponents the team might be playing on later in the season, fans of specific players).

Venues can also precede login with survey questions that help get to know the fanbase. If you sell your WiFI login as sponsorship inventory, you can create tailored questions to provide leads for your sponsor. For example, you can ask users if they’re in the market for a new car for a dealership sponsor, what kind of car they’re interested in, and if they’re interested in being contacted.

WiFi is full of data collection opportunities. Whether you choose to make it one part of a multichannel data collection strategy that tracks behavior or just a simple way to identify who’s in your stadium, use it to start getting to know your fans better.

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