Times are Changing

For decades, concessionaires largely existed to feed the masses. They dispensed hot dogs and pizza, cotton candy and nachos, beer, soda, and packaged goods. Game-day foodservice stood a utilitarian experience and a secondary consideration to the competitive action.

Those days, however, have evaporated as today’s consumers demand better prices, better service, and less wait times. The on-demand economy has forced organizations to innovate their offerings, service, and customer engagement.

Foodservice has become something far more diverse and daring.

Stadiums are now employing executive chefs, roaming mixologists, and pastry artisans leaning on new technologies to provide mobile ordering, payments, and efficient operations which creates an environment that drives convenience and engagement.

Innovation fuels customer demand and retention when organizations enhance the overall experience. Today, the need is inherent for organizations to put the customer front and center and deliver the best experience possible.

Here are a few organizations that have struck gold with their innovative offerings and fan-focused experiences.

Fan First Pricing & Locally Inspired Concessions

Fan-First Pricing

When the Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened in 2017, they decided to modernize their pricing and service business model. The Atlanta Falcons introduced a revolutionary idea in the food/beverage world with “Fan-First Pricing”.

While many sports organizations may be reluctant to drop their F&B prices, they may need to reconsider when factoring in the additional benefits that followed their “Fan-First Pricing” strategy.

We all know sporting arenas are notorious for basic food and beverages served at “Fan-Last Pricing”, such as a $9 beer or a $5 hot dog.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium discovered that a menu with “Fan-First Pricing” could make amends for high-dollar tickets and keep the locals coming back. The concessions offering such pricing — $3 pizza slices, $2 pretzels — have received breathless praise from customers. The resulting sales figures and media attention quickly inspired more organizations to try out the “Fan-First Pricing”.

Although food and beverage prices were 50 percent lower, fans spent 16 percent more. Not only did the team make more money by lowering the prices – this also led to a domino effect for the entire game-day experience.

On average, 6,000 more fans walked through the gates two hours before the game. Which not only meant more time to sell food and beverages but also helped ease wait times on gameday toward the goal of no more than five minutes.

A simple innovation such as “Fan-First Pricing” has made the Atlanta Falcons one of the top teams among all NFL teams, in an internal survey conducted by the league, in food quality, price to value ratio, speed of service and variety.

Locally Inspired Concessions

In addition to “Fan-First Pricing”, stadium operators have improved the game day experience by serving locally inspired concessions from locally known chefs and restaurants creating a marriage of premium chef-inspired food with quick-service operations.

Riding Sacramento’s campaign as “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital,” the Golden 1 Centers food and beverage program might be one of the most ambitious programs in concession operations. The program pledges to source 90 percent of all ingredients from a 150-mile radius.

The program calls for high ethical standards, sustainability, the embrace of local ingredients, environmental friendliness and seasonal options that are diverse, delicious, fast and affordable.

Even further – the Golden 1 Center has created innovative menu options that include healthy choices. A food station at one side of the arena, Porchetta House, features all things pig – but humanely raised. Want Ice cream? It’ll be made in-house. These are a few of the many offerings they have, but with a local ingredient focus, menus change with the calendar – so only the freshest and timeliest ingredients are offered.

Don’t worry, there are still the basics such as hot dogs and chicken tenders, but the hot dogs are made with organic beef and the chicken tenders come from free-range chicken from Mary’s Free Range Chickens in Fresno.

Pricing has to be accessible. Just because you’re using better product doesn’t always equate to being expensive. We have to change that paradigm.

Michael TuohyGolden 1 Center Executive Chef

Customers deserve great food and Golden 1 Center is ready to satisfy their appetites at an affordable price.

When you combine fan-first pricing and locally sourced food & beverage options, you’ve got the necessary ingredients to a winning game day experience that will keep the fans coming back and spending more.

The next question is, how do venues allow their customers to access their services more conveniently to reduce wait times, provide quality service, and satisfy customer demands? 

Key Takeaways

  1. The on-demand economy has forced organizations to innovate their offerings, service, and customer engagement.
  2. Today, the need is inherent for organizations to put the customer front and center and deliver the best experience possible. Enhancing the overall experience through innovation fuels customer demand and retention.

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