Generation Evolution

Entertainment venues are evolving to capture the Millennial Generation but accomplishing it has not been easy. Being a part of this generation, I have found it frustrating and hard to understand our mindset. What I have learned is we care about the environment, our community, continued education, personal convenience, and entertainment. How can you improve your venue to engage each of these characteristics?

Environment

The world’s environment is changing and the way we treat it has a larger effect than some may think. We’re the last generation that can really make an impact and change the way we consume products, as future generations are already at risk. Several stadiums and arenas have implemented amazing plans that include composting, recycling, and landfill bins, each containing pictures of where stadium food and beverage items belong. The question I have is how much of the composting and recycling comes back contaminated or how much goes to landfill instead. To make a real difference, you would need to educate and hire staff to sort through each bag of trash to make sure every piece is in the right bin. This is time and cost intensive and doesn’t really affect most consumers as long as a program is in place, but I would recommend it if you have the budget.

Community

Community is key and encompasses several definitions of the word. Most teams are very active in their communities, which helps build the relationship with fans. Stadiums are also starting to find ways to create a community feel. Rooftop patios, gardens, pools, and more have been great new additions for Millennials who want go to a game but care more about hanging out with friends or meeting new people. Personally, living in a new city I really enjoy these areas, as it’s hard to meet people when you no longer go to bars every weekend. These have been great ways venues can sell standing-room only tickets and not have to worry about guests being upset by their view. This also means transforming some areas that might be hard or impossible to sell into areas supported by profits from a food and beverage focus, whether tickets sell or not.

Opportunity

Most executives think that a Millennial can’t wait for the next raise or promotion, but what we really want is the opportunity to learn and diversify our knowledge while being heard. I think the same is true about attending an entertainment event. Most of us develop our passion for a sports team, ballet, music, etc. from our parents and grandparents. Venues that include its history or history of its current tenants add interest for our generation. It doesn’t matter if your venue is state of the art or historical, adding conversational pieces for families to share creates special moments to pass on to future generations. Personally, I hope to find the opportunity to enjoy a game at a venue my grandpa grew up around.

Convenience

Convenience cannot be overlooked when you’re building or upgrading your facilities. Making a fan’s phone as all they need is a great step forward. Creating an app or implementing an RFID chip that allows a fan to park, access the stadium, or pay for merchandise along with food and beverage is a great utility device. These technologies are already present at large festivals and other outdoor venues, but why not adapt them to the operations of a large stadium or arena?

Adding to the other functions mentioned, you could introduce checkpoints at each point of sale upon entering a queue. This checkpoint could then link to the POS and give an updated estimated wait time above each stand. Venues have implemented a similar idea with a green-, yellow-, and red-light system above restrooms to help fans pick the fastest access to a facility. If an app is a direction you choose to head, combining forces with in-seat food ordering could be beneficial as the technology already exists; however, it’s often a low percentage of the overall food and beverage sales. As for the RFID chip, it would make sense to have this as some sort of commemorative band for season-ticket holders or a re-usable band for single-ticket purchases. Similar RFID chips used at ski resorts are customized and allow ticket scanners to greet guests by name. But what if I want to transfer tickets to a friend or sell them? In this case, a ticket holder could transfer the ticket to another account or sell the ticket on any approved second-party ticketing system that would then allow the purchaser to attach the ticket to an RFID chip.

Entertainment

People have developed a shorter attention span with technology evolving. So how do you keep your fans entertained? Adding open Wi-Fi networks has been one way venues have adapted to current society’s temperament. This is a great opportunity to collect data for your sales team by requiring fans to give their information on a landing page before accessing the Wi-Fi. Having a strong network would also help support the before mentioned stadium app. Interactive areas or sponsorship activations can also be an easy way to add entertainment options to a venue. These could also have check-in points for the app or RFID chip, which not only gives your sponsor valued information but also allows fans to automatically post on social media. Social media activity will then add to the community by sharing your location with your friends at each check-in.

If you take a look around, all stadiums, arenas, theaters, festivals, golf courses, ski resorts, airports and more are changing to find the best way to reach every generation. Success is found in every avenue, and maybe the answer to your challenge is at a venue that’s a little different from yours. The question now is: What are we going to do to accommodate Generation Z who is about to turn 20 years old and have always had technology at its fingertips? FM

(Image: Michael Semensohn/Creative Commons)