Written by Kevin MacCauley. Originally published in Sports Destinations Management, December 7, 2020.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses across all industries were forced to pivot, leveraging technology and digital innovation in new ways to maintain operations and continue to build a sense of community. Now, as sports venues begin to reopen, it is imperative that they comply with guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement new regulations that ensure health and safety throughout the venue. This can be achieved through the use of mobile apps.
While many businesses have already adapted to today’s digital world, it is now more important than ever to identify and integrate technology to achieve success. With nearly 270 million smartphone users in America alone, the world is at our fingertips. And with over 4 million apps available on Apple and Android devices, this presents a tremendous opportunity for sports event planners.
In addition, mobile app use has seen a drastic increase during the coronavirus, as businesses across every industry look for ways to connect with their consumers and engage their employees. According to a recent report, the second quarter of 2020 saw mobile app usage grow by 40% year-over-year, featuring the largest number of app downloads to date.
With over three hours per day spent in mobile apps, sports venues must embrace digital platforms at their events to meet their attendees where they are: on their mobile devices.
Optimizing the attendee experience
The use of mobile apps can streamline processes at various touch points throughout an event, improving engagement and enhancing the overall attendee experience. In addition, they can be utilized to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases by eliminating human contact and offering self-service solutions.
- Event Registration: With a mobile app, the registration process can be automated and simplified in the most secure way possible. In addition, many apps allow you to streamline the ability to collect necessary waivers, keeping them organized and readily available.
- Contact-free check-in: Long lines can hurt the overall attendee experience. Now, the whole check-in process can be digitized, providing an unrivaled, easy-to-use solution for staff with minimal human contact and interaction.
- Reduce wait times: Event organizers can update wait times and assign check-in windows through a mobile app to reduce the amount of time spent in lines and waiting in large groups. This allows attendees to spend more time immersed in the event and keeps them out of long lines.
- In-event Communication: It is vital that event organizers can communicate with attendees throughout the event. Mobile apps can serve as a portal to share important event information with both attendees and staff. Using mobile apps allows sports venues to disseminate information to all attendees in real-time to boost attendee satisfaction and safety.
- Payments: Secure payment processing can give attendees peace of mind; less hands are involved and less eyes see sensitive information. In addition, the ability to pay online or within a mobile app increases flexibility, so attendees don’t have to worry about a forgotten checkbook.
- Athlete performance technology: Some apps can even include features for athletes and coaches. Virtual training options, for example video analysis technologies, can be leveraged to determine athlete trends, strengths and weaknesses to perfect performance.
Creating opportunities for event success
Health and safety is at the forefront of people’s minds as we navigate through the often dreaded phrase, “the new normal.” The most important focus for sports venues moving forward will be to re-strategize how they will maintain a sense of community and prevent the spread of infectious diseases in the venue.
- Action: Sports venues should be discussing the various touch points within their facilities to identify ways to implement technology to reduce human contact and improve attendee experiences.
- Early Adoption: Familiarizing users with your app early is the key to adoption. Encourage use of your app early, and remember that people absorb information in a variety of ways, so remain persistent in your marketing efforts.
- Communication: Sending emails detailing new protocols will give attendees peace of mind and help instill a level of calm as they return to your facility. While we don’t recommend flooding your attendees’ emails, one or two push notifications a day will provide ample opportunity to communicate event details or updates.
Once you understand the benefits and opportunities mobile apps create, it’s imperative that you look ahead to a future of digital innovation to keep up in this new normal. New technologies have emerged to combat the challenges faced by sports and fitness venues, prompting a significant rise in the number of mobile apps available and adoption of apps by smartphone users. The use of mobile apps for event registration and contactless check-in will put your attendees and event staff at ease while also improving overall flexibility and convenience.