The trophy generation. The social media obsessed. Connected 24/7. The Millennials.
The Millennials are the next generation of consumers, and our preferences and needs are going to be different from the baby boomers and the other generations before us. From roller coasters to innovative technology, our dream venue will need to meet all of our wants and desires.
The Screens vs. Live Entertainment
Our phones, computers, iPads, social media, and everything else that is entertainment on the Internet is in an ongoing battle with live entertainment. Why spend the money to watch a baseball game at the stadium when you can have the best seat in the house on a high definition LCD TV from your own living room? This is the question that must be answered when constructing a new and innovative venue. The ideal venue should offer an experience that is great enough for fans to leave the couch and Netflix behind.
Using Technology in Your Favor
The screens and live events may be fighting against each other, but it is certainly possible to use technology in your favor without taking the attention away from the event itself.
Levi’s Stadium is a great example of how to integrate technology and a live event. Its mobile app allows you watch different replays, you can order food from the concession stand to be brought directly to your seat, as well as a way-finding map to direct you to your seat and the nearest concession stand. Levi’s Stadium also has free Wi-Fi for all its fans. These are all great examples of how to use technology to add to the fan experience, without distracting the customer away from the event itself.
Apps like this are definitely a step in the right direction. Another innovation to the phone/event experience would be allowing fans to watch a live stream of the game on their phone, as well as other games in the league through the team’s app, where it could only be accessed while at the stadium. This would essentially be a small-scale version of the TVs that are in most suites at a venue, but it would allow all patrons to have that extra bonus as well, especially for those whose seats are further away from the action or that had a limited view of the video boards.
Fans should never feel that they are going to miss any of the action, even when they leave their seat. So another way to use technology would be to have TVs in the restrooms. Currently in most venues, the restrooms are the only dark area where TVs or the video boards are not visible. By adding small TVs in the restrooms, this will allow fans to feel like they won’t be missing any of the action when they leave their seats. In addition, having charging stations for smartphones would be another good idea for a dream venue, so fans won’t miss the action, even if their phone needs a charge.
Utilizing social media is another aspect of the dream venue. The venue could easily use the video board to integrate social media and fan interaction. There could be a live poll of the fans, with questions about the game or the players. An example question could be asking the fans whether or not there was a correct call made on the field during a replay review. The venue could also use social media to have live fan interviews with players who are not in the game that day, former players, or even coaches. Fans could submit their questions via social media, and then the questions could be answered by the player during a break in the game on the video board.
We are the trophy generation, so we always want something for nothing. We are not the type of people who will be satisfied to attend a game, for the sake and appreciation of the game alone. We must have value added experiences in addition to the game itself.
A roller coaster would be a great attraction to add to a sports stadium. There are a few stadiums where roller coasters are near the stadium, but a dream venue would have it inside the stadium itself. Envision the roller coaster at the New York New York hotel in Las Vegas. The roller coaster boards inside the hotel and travels outside and inside the building. Ideally, the cost of riding the coaster would be a separate ticket from the stadium ticket itself, thus creating additional revenue and buzz for the venue. This type of attraction would be a great incentive for families and young adventure seekers alike to attend a game and ride a roller coaster above the game, as well.
Increased proximity between the fans and the players is another aspect of the dream stadium. Being able to take a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes before or after the game in the clubhouse or locker rooms could be a potential experience for fans. Essentially this could be an observation area overlooking the team’s clubhouse, with a glass barrier, where fans could walk through at designated times to see their favorite players up close, without bothering the players themselves before the game.
Allowing fans to be in the press room during games is a part of the dream venue, as well. However, this shouldn’t be the normal, plain press room. The San Francisco Giants added the @Cafe in their stadium, with large LCD screens showing the most recent social media chatter about their team. Turning the normal press room into an area like this would combine the technology aspect with the behind-the-scenes aspect, too. A venue could also have the fan-led interviews, like I mentioned earlier, in this room with former players or with front-office staff to really allow fans to be up close and personal with the team.
Snapping the perfect family picture, or selfie, at a stadium or arena can be a little difficult. The Millennials love posting pictures and sharing every aspect of our lives with the world. So it is important that the pictures taken at a venue show the world how good the venue looks and will make others want to go there as well, so the perfect photo is essential in doing this. Usually the best vantage points are going to be in the middle of an aisle or in front of someone’s seat, so these photos can’t be taken during a game. A dream venue would have designated photo pavilions, where fans could use the areas that have great views of the stadium without obstructing anyone’s view, and without having to worry about someone walking in front of the photo. This could be done by building an additional area or jut-out onto the concourse.
The Millennials, love us or hate us, are the connected, social media generation. But while we value our latest Netflix addiction, we also value a great experience that gives us everything we could possibly imagine and desire. Building a venue that utilizes innovative technology, social media, and creates a memorable fan experience will certainly be a successful venue with the Millennials. FM