Live Chat with FanFood CEO: How Venues Should Prepare for Reopening
Last Thursday we hosted a live stream with Carson Goodale, CEO and Co-Founder of FanFood. Amidst the uncertainties during this shelter in place period, one thing is certain: venues will eventually reopen for games, shows and events. The question is, how should venues start preparing now to welcome back their fans and customers, whose mindset and behaviors will have shifted post-coronavirus?
If you'd like to see a full recording of the webinar, please visit https://fanfood.app/recording
Impacts of COVID-19 on the sports and entertainment industry.
According to a survey published by Performance Research, 59% of those surveyed said they will be concerned about crowds and proximity to strangers, and 56% said it would take "a few months" for them to feel safe about returning to indoor venues, even after the CDC says it's safe to do so. In addition, 65% said they'd be concerned about the cleanliness of food service areas. That means consumer mindset has drastically shifted. Social distancing has led people to be more aware of venues' hygiene and safety standards.
However, at the same time people long to attend live events and social gatherings. In the same research, 53% reported a “pent-up desire to attend the events I love” once the pandemic is over, and 46% said they will value going to public events more than they did before.
Is this a challenge or opportunity for venues? Historically, pandemic were often the catalyst for accelerating innovation. Before 2002, eCommerce was virtually non-existent in China until SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) came along. It became a launchpad for companies like Alibaba and JD.com to take advantage of shifting consumer habits and building two of the largest and most influential companies in China and the world.
Today, the idea of social distancing will likely remain. That means venues need to explore creative ways to meet new customer expectations.
What can venues expect?
1. There’s a higher sense of responsibility and social awareness among consumers.
Be it supporting local businesses or donating to healthcare staff, the pandemic has galvanized the society for everyone to do its part. We see venues and teams engage with their fans similarly, either by giving back to the community or mobilizing their fans to support positivity. In the long term, this leads to stronger customer loyalty.
Some examples of how this is being done:
Here at FanFood, we're giving away a meal for every order placed on the platform through our partnership with Feeding America. In addition, we have launched a Local Business Relief Package to help businesses stay open during this time. The package includes $5,000 to incentivize orders and free usage of our mobile ordering platform for 60 days.
2. People will have higher appreciation for entertainment.
In the Performance Research survey, 46% of people said they will value going to public events more than before. Social distancing has led to people feeling starved for entertainment and social activities. Once games and events are back, people won't want to miss a single second of the show (especially not to waiting in line for food and other services). In addition, customers are more likely to be delighted by any new initiatives or upgraded amenities venues have in place to welcome them back.
3. Consumers shifting to mobile is a necessity, not a choice.
It's now widely acknowledged that mobile engagement is the key to fan engagement. Over 71% of stadium attendees post updates to social media while at the stadium. In the post-coronavirus world, this phenomenon is only reinforced.
People are conditioned to stay on mobile devices during shelter in place, since they are the go-to source for food, shopping, entertainment and news. Mobile, cashless transactions will no longer be an added benefit, but expected features at venues of all types and sizes. 80% of venues see smartphone payment for food and merchandise as a major game changer, and the time to embrace such technology is now.
4. Expect lingering fears and concerns.
For better or for worse, social distancing will still be top of mind for many people. They want to be assured that venues are thoroughly cleaned and sterilized. That means venues need to proactively take preventive measures, such as reducing physical contact by offering contactless pickup and upholding high hygiene standards. At the same time, communication is extremely important. Be it messaging through emails, on the website, on social media or in-app, it's important to actively inform your fans of the measures through which you're taking care of their health and safety.
For example, in FanFood's mobile and web app, venues have the option to indicate where mobile sanitation stands are and notify fans of any COVID-19 related updates and reminders.
5. Venues must explore innovative ways to generate revenue.
With event cancellation and postponement, many venues are off on a rocky start in terms of revenue generation. Here we have three ways to help you maximize the rest of the year and hit higher goals.
Offer mobile and self-service ordering
Cashless transactions can reduce staffing cost since you no longer need a cashier to handle cash and card payment. In addition, customers will be more comfortable with contactless ordering method, therefore placing more and larger orders.
Digitize your sponsorship assets
People's attention has shifted to mobile. In order to generate more revenue through sponsorship, we strongly encourage you to add trackable, ROI-driven digital assets. This way you're tracking and prioritizing conversion rather than ad spend, which is far more enticing to sponsors.
Focus on your most loyal customers
These could be your season ticket holders or other types of repeat customers, who are likely to be more supportive of your endeavors. Start by engaging with them and strive for larger spend per customer among this segment, and you'll see positive results faster.
If you'd like to access the full live stream recording and get a copy of the presentation deck Carson used, please visit: fanfood.app/recording
Some helpful resources and links:
Designing Breakthrough Venue Experiences (Sports Innovation Lab)