In our previous blog we discussed the process whereby Real Wireless helps sports clubs and stadiums to become wireless ready.
There are certain factors that don’t change: emergency and operational needs have to be covered; media and VIPs have to be connected. Others are up for discussion.
For instance you need to have Wi-Fi for press and VIPs but extending Wi-Fi coverage to fans in seats is a hotly debated topic. You need under-seat Wi-Fi, ideally, for a good tenth of the stadium if you want to serve all the fans during a match/event. That means drilling through concrete to get cable and piping in place. You also need a system that is waterproof and that can withstand the high-pressure cleaners used after a match – and you don’t want it to be vandalised.
It’s a lot of work – and expensive as lots of APs are needed when taking an under-seat Wi-Fi approach. But if yours is a new stadium you can plan ahead for Wi-Fi, which our research indicates is something many new-build stadiums intend to do. That’s a lot cheaper. Otherwise you have to retrofit.
And there are advantages to extending Wi-Fi to fans. How about out-of-seat ordering through an app that uses the ticket details the fan already has, and then sending him or her to a collection point? There’s no lining up behind someone who can’t make up their mind and then waiting for an order to be prepared and payment to go through. You just order and pick up your three beers, four sandwiches and a coke. This concept could extend to direction-finding apps, facility advice (like length of toilet queues) and other useful services that could be delivered with decent Wi-Fi coverage.
But they wouldn’t necessarily generate enough direct revenue in themselves to cover the million or more pounds that guaranteed Wi-Fi coverage everywhere could cost an old stadium.
On the other hand they would increase customer satisfaction. The stadium wants people who are going to be happy with their experience and want to come back, spend more money and tell other fans, friends and family about it. And let’s face it, if other clubs or stadiums invest in good Wi-Fi it may be essential to keep up.
At Real Wireless we will lay out the costs, benefits, time and technologies involved – but how and whether fan-focused Wi-Fi will have a positive long-term impact is harder to assess.
Finance directors could reasonably argue that fan engagement with Wi-Fi is a nice thing to have, but that it could be delivered over cellular networks and that it’s not mission critical, given the potential outlay. However, in the long term it could boost efficiency, enhance the fans experience and be a worthwhile investment in loyalty and reputation as well as a differentiator. Sometimes a nice-to-have becomes a competitive necessity.