Here’s a question for all front office staff at ballparks: what are your goals this baseball season?
Boost ticket sales? Higher fan retention rate? Engage with your fans more?
The answer is most likely all of the above. And the key to nailing all of them is simple — giving your fans the ultimate game day experience that feels memorable and worthwhile.
While there are many aspects that make or break the fan experience, today we are focusing on one of them — the concession experience. In fact, it’s categorized as one of the basic attributes of fan experience by Deloitte in “The Stadium Experience” report, among others such as way-finding, accessibility and traffic flow.
We understand that it can be difficult to give up on the already thin margins of concession food at ballparks, but according to the 15,000 sports fans surveyed for the report, two favorites for fan complaints are concession price and variety. Here are three ways in which every ballpark could minimize the cost and maximize the overall revenue:
1. Fan-friendly pricing, without hurting your margins too much
Price is a main reason why fans aren’t happy with the concession offerings — after all, who’s willing to pay for a beer that they can get elsewhere for one tenth of the price?
Sports have historically seen high concession prices at stadiums, although there have been several examples that challenge this norm. After the Atlanta Falcons’ reduced concession prices by 50 percent, the Falcons saw an increase of 16 percent overall fan spend in the stadium. Additionally, the number of fans entering the stadium two or more hours before kickoff increased by an average of 6,000 per game. Seeing the effectiveness of the measures, the Falcons cut $1 from a number of “premium” items for the 2018-2019 season, which meant a further 12 percent reduction in concession prices.
You may be telling yourself, "there's no way I can pull that off!" However, here’s a solution: limited-time price reduction. This has been proven effective for incentivizing certain desirable fan behaviors.
For example, if you want to divert peak hour traffic during breaks to alleviate the congestion around concession stands, offer sizable price reductions two hours before the game starts. This way fans are incentivized to show up earlier rather than crowding around the entrance right as the game is about to start.
Another way is to spread out peak-hour traffic by offering price reductions during each inning. However, that runs the risk of taking the fans away from the action, and fans are faced with the dilemma of staying for the game or leaving their seats to grab a bite. Ultimately, that discounts the fan experience.
Fortunately, there are now ways to both allow you the price flexibility (i.e. modifying concession pricing and alerting your fans of the changes), and allow the fans the freedom to order whenever and wherever they want from their phones. FanFood’s is designed to serve both purposes. Not only can fans place an order whenever they want from their seats, concessionaires can also change prices in real-time and notify the fans to induce concession traffic.
With the help of technology and few clicks of a button, now you can easily offer flexible fan-friendly pricing without hurting your overall margins, as well as give your fans the ability to enjoy the game without distractions.
2. Let your fans easily explore all menu options at their fingertips, and learn what they like the most
Not everyone would walk around the entire ballpark to see all concession offerings available. In fact, the vast majority wouldn’t. Fans will most likely only explore what’s around their section and purchase the first few items they see. That’s a shame especially if there are more preferable options on the other side of the ballpark that the fan doesn’t get to see.
That’s why we encourage venues to leverage mobile ordering apps to showcase all of your menu options on every fan’s phone. Especially if you have new menu items that you want to draw attention to. A mobile app allows you to send push notifications or highlight the item as a popup callout. It’s a more convenient, economical way to notify your fans: not only is it zero cost (compared to printing posters), but you are bound to capture fans’ attention — because who isn’t on their phones at least once throughout the game?
Another missed opportunity at many ballparks is the lack of comprehensive and integrated fan data. Digital ticket sales has helped with capturing a lot of that data, but if you can integrate that with the data captured from concession sales, your arsenal becomes ten times more powerful. That means you can track a single fan’s journey from the moment they purchase the tickets all the way to when they leave the ballpark: what time do they arrive; what time do they buy concessions; do they prefer pickup or in-seat delivery orders; how big their concession orders are; what food do they like…
All of the individual data sets when aggregated at a ballpark level, can give you invaluable insights into the demographics and other attributes of your fan base as a whole. Subsequently, you can take those insights and design programs/pricing that better suits the average fan, as well as targeted messaging to different types of fans based on their purchase behavior.
All of these undoubtedly will drive better fan experience for each individual fan, and hence, revenue for the ballpark.
3. Premium suite guests deserve a premium F&B experience
For the majority of sports venues, suites can account for anywhere between five percent and 20 percent of total team revenue. It’s definitely a fan segment that deserves a lot of special attention, since their purchasing power is already established and the retention of these guests could bring in a lot more recurring revenue.
More often than not, the current process of booking meal packages before game day or ordering in-suite is often a high-touch, hands-on and cumbersome process. Guests need to download pages of PDF menus and make several phone calls in order to book the meal packages, as well as work with the team’s retail department to pre-order customized merchandise if needed. This whole process increases friction and reduces flexibility for the suite holder to add/remove items from the booking. Once in the suite, it’s difficult to order additional items since the server to suite ratio is often so low that it would take forever to wave down a busy server. Since guests typically won’t leave the suites, it creates a huge barrier to order additional merchandise even if the guests intend to.
We believe that this season is the time for you to upgrade your suite operations. FanFood has developed a premium suite solution, which consists of online meal and services pre-ordering for suite holders, as well as in-suite kiosk ordering for guests.
Once suite holders book the suite, they can go to the online FanFood ordering platform, browse meal package and merchandise options, add them to cart and self-checkout on the website. When in-suite, guests can order additional items from the in-suite self-service kiosk when needed and pay on the kiosk, or request a server for other services.
From an operational perspective, this means you won’t need as many servers to manage the suites — since guests can order by themselves on the kiosks and only call servers when absolutely necessary. At the same time, the pre-ordering and in-suite solution makes purchasing frictionlessly easy, which encourages suite guests to order more whenever they want to.
Get in touch with us to inquire about FanFood’s premium suite ordering solutions!
There’s still time to make this baseball season your best season ever in terms of fan experience — for both general admission fans and your most VIP guests. If you have any questions at all or simply want to see a demo of how our products could work at your ballpark, we’d love to hear from you.
Bonus: here’s a fun animation of all 30 MLB ballparks. Every one of them is unique in their own way.