The Battle

Organizations have battled long lines at concession stands for years. For the customer, nothing is more frustrating than missing a moment of the game, or event, waiting in line to buy a hot dog and beer. For the venue, slow speed of service is not conducive to generating revenue.

The way businesses manage lines and quality of service results in billions of dollars gained/lost, brand equity and consumer spending. A long wait affects the customer’s view of a brand, influences customers to leave a line or not enter it in the first place and even discourage them from coming back entirely.

In fact – service, wait time, and lack of food and beverage offerings are among the top complaints from customers today.

The average wait time for concessions is 30 minutes! What happens when the wait is that long? Nearly 1 out of 2 customers abandon making a purchase because of the wait and 1 out of 3 customers do not even make a purchase because of the fear of missing out on the next big moment. When you add up the missed revenue, venues are leaving over $10 Billion on the table.

Stadium operators are all too aware that for the exciting moments they deliver, getting fans in the seats and delivering memorable experiences is a constant challenge.

The reality is, you’re competing with super-sized TVs that allow customers to get closer to the action – without ever leaving the comforts of their homes. In many cases, industry leaders have tried to counter by going big – installing larger screens, staging bigger entertainment, building bigger luxury suites. But is that what customers really want?

Customers in the sports and entertainment industry around the world produced a synonymous ranking of priority improvements – with the top three choices all related to food and beverage.

Time to Make Some Improvements

Speed of Service

In a nutshell, slow service – or even the perception of it – deters more food and beverage purchases and prevents some from even approaching concession stands. But it’s important to note that fixing this issue promises direct rewards for organizations.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • 45% of fans had abandoned concession lines at least once in the past 12 months without making a food & beverage purchase because the wait was too long
  • Customers would spend 42% more, on average, for food & beverage if wait times were cut in half
  • 65% of fans who acknowledged that buying food & beverage is based on “impulse”

Mobile Ordering

Customers today do not view their phone as a calling device; they view it as their remote to the world. Whether it is searching for updates, social media posts, or sharing photos; customers turn to mobile first. In fact, they expect brands and venues to deliver awesome mobile options for their consumption.

No longer is mobile a nice add-on, it is the way we live.

Considering the significant time fans spend waiting in line – and away from the game – to make food and beverage purchases, it’s no surprise that the appeal of mobile ordering is great.

In an era of individualization, customers are increasingly expecting, if not demanding, exceptional service. Mobile ordering perfectly addresses those needs – by creating a more engaging stadium visit and simultaneously eliminating an age-old frustration.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • 64% of customers said they would “probably use” or “definitely use” mobile ordering if available at their stadium (non-users)
  • 56% of fans who said they would “probably use” or “definitely use” a mobile app to order and pre-pay for food or beverages to be picked up at an express line

Loyalty & Rewards

Building brands that truly resonate with fans is the surest way to keep them coming back. Loyalty reward programs are useful tools to help with such efforts. But which types of programs work best, and how effectively have stadiums and teams marketed their initiatives?

Loyalty programs can offer targeted offers/discounts that can influence fans to make purchases. This is valuable to organizations when over 65% of purchases are based on impulse. Driving such sales, especially late in a game to sell remaining inventory, has the two-fold benefit of boosting revenue and eliminating waste.

Most Appealing Reward Types:

  1. Receive 10% discount on every purchase for being a loyalty member
  2. Accrue reward points to be applied toward the purchase of tickets, merchandise, VIP experiences or food and beverage
  3. Express Entry lines for loyalty members
  4. Free menu item after the 10th order

Technology powers stadiums in countless ways, but its capacity to enhance a staple of the fan experience – buying food and beverage – is underutilized. Improving concessions demands the attention of venue operators because it represents “low-hanging fruit” to boost sales and engage fans.

Key Takeaways

  1. Don’t underestimate the importance of satiating fans’ hunger and thirst. Across the world, fans almost unanimously place food and beverage ahead of entertainment, technology and amenities when ranking the elements that are most important to the quality of their fan experience.
  2. The two biggest culprits for derailing food and beverage sales are slow service and fear of missing game action. Even the perception of lengthy waits at concessions will rob sales: 45% of fans said they had given up buying food or beverages at least once in the past 12 months because lines were too long.
  3. Fixing issues such as long waits lead to a direct ROI. Not only do fans acknowledge that food and beverage purchases usually are made “on impulse”– meaning they can be easily influenced – they spend more if their food and beverage experience improves. Keep in mind fans in all countries said they would spend at least 30% more, on average, if wait times were cut in half.
  4. Mobile technology to improve ordering, payment and delivering loyalty programs is a promising path to greater sales. Though such options are used sparingly now, fans report great interest in them. Only 6.65% of customers currently use mobile ordering due to limited availability at venues.

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