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Volume 26 No. 229
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Improving Venue Connectivity Key For Colleges Moving Forward

Herman (c) said he's seen social media usage at games make huge leaps in a lot of college venues
Photo: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
Herman (c) said he's seen social media usage at games make huge leaps in a lot of college venues
Photo: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
Herman (c) said he's seen social media usage at games make huge leaps in a lot of college venues
Photo: MARC BRYAN-BROWN

Social media use has become an important part of attending any sporting event, and college venues are continuing to improve connectivity in order to enhance that part of the fan experience, according to execs on a panel discussion on Day 1 of the '19 Learfield IMG College Intercollegiate Athletics Forum “It's progressing,” said Paciolan President & CEO Kim Damron. “It's just going to continue to improve. As an example, if you try to download a movie on 3G, it took two and a half hours. If you try to download it on 4G, it's six minutes. 5G, which is coming out, is 3.6 seconds. So that connectivity is only going to help the in-venue experience.” TwitterSports Partner Manager David Herman added of using social media at games, “It’s part of the experience of interacting with sports. I've seen, at least from personal experience this year, huge leaps in a lot of college venues, specifically some which are much better than pro venues, to be quite honest. But connectivity is actually getting better. Even before we get to 5G. But it's definitely important, for not only the consumer, but for those who are working at an event as well to get content out there. It's not easy if you’re outside of the press box and just on the field.”

A BETTER EXPERIENCE: FanMaker co-Founder & CEO Jason Cole, whose firm specializes in team loyalty and rewards programs, said, “The things you can build with solid connectivity are really limited only in imagination. From where we've worked over the last 10 years, the ability to actually do things inside the stadium -- from tracking dwell time to various things like that -- just weren't possible until a few years ago when we had improved tenant connectivity. I'm really excited as 5G begins its rollout. The opportunities to build new software, new fan experiences are only going to grow.” College football in particular, according to Herman, has succeeded in using social media to engage fans before, during and after being at a venue. But that doesn’t mean that schools and tech companies aren’t facing hurdles when trying to optimize connectivity. “When I look at our clients, it's a little bit different with each different population,” Cole said. “The thing that's probably most famous in this last year for us to deal with was Alabama football and students leaving during the fourth quarter. So we were able to utilize Bluetooth technology to build a field inside of that area to go ahead and track dwell time and built an incentive for them to go ahead and stay to that fourth quarter.”

PERSONALIZATION WILL BE KEY: Damron said of personalization, “Cal does a really good job of this with their gold standard of service. As you come into the venue, they take the scan and data and they get notification to their development officer if a big donor just came in or if a season-ticket holder came in and they can actually have a rep go and greet the person. It just elevates the entire experience and helps that personalization to get people into the venue and they have a great experience and then they come back.”