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Volume 21 No. 6
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DraftServ installs QR code-activated soda dispensers

Delaware North Sportservice is testing new self-serve technology at Bank of America Stadium to increase speed of service and efficiency for Carolina Panthers games.

The food vendor signed a deal with DraftServ to supply the technology at multiple soft-drink dispensers on the club level at Bank of America Stadium. Pepsi holds the Panthers’ pouring rights and the system extends to Stubborn, Pepsi’s two-year-old line of craft sodas.

Panthers fans at club lounge concession stands can pay one price for unlimited refills.
For DraftServ, the same company producing self-serve beer machines at sports venues and major events such as the Kentucky Derby, the soda system in Charlotte marks its first installation at a big league sports facility, said Jose Hevia, DraftServ’s founder and CEO.

Here’s how it works: Fans pay $8 for a special souvenir cup at the club lounge concession stands on the stadium’s north and south sides. The cups come with unlimited refills and contain a QR code to be scanned at the soda dispensers, set up near the bar in the middle of the lounge and on both ends of the room. Patrons scan the QR code, which activates all dispensers and taps for about 20 seconds to pour a large soda before the system shuts off.

Customers can go back as many times as they want to refill their soda by scanning the code, which is unique for each game.

System use at the first preseason home game and Panthers Fan Fest exceeded Sportservice’s expectations, resulting in officials doubling the number of DraftServ taps from 10 to 20 for last week’s final home exhibition, said Todd Smoots, Sportservice’s on-site general manager.

Hevia said data for the first two events showed more than 17 percent of all soda pours in the stadium were done at DraftServ units. Ideally, by pushing fans to spend a few more dollars for greater value, Sportservice can increase per caps by 60 percent over the other option, a $5 bottled soda, he said.

For Sportservice, the technology, which runs through an internet connection, provides the firm with additional data on fans’ buying habits and another layer of inventory control, apart from the speed-of-service aspect, Smoots said.

“The advantage to this system with the technology is [that] over time we can learn which products they’re buying, because we know how many ounces are being poured out” of each tap, Smoots said. “While you don’t know the customer, it does tell you the product mix and how many times people use it.”

Barcode on the cups.
In addition, the system has the flexibility to use dynamic pricing late in the game, Smoots said. For example, Sportservice could reduce the price to $5 after halftime.

DraftServ’s technology “piggybacks” on the same dispensers Sportservice has used in the past, which is appealing for the vendor because it doesn’t have to use separate machines, Hevia said. Pepsi owns the machines. Sportservice pays DraftServ a nickel for every tap of the QR code, Smoots said.

The dispensers are part of a retrofit eliminating soda dispensers from behind all concession stands at Bank of America Stadium. The lower and upper concourses both have Pepsi Refreshment Zones for unlimited sodas. They’re not DraftServ taps, but that could change next season depending on this year’s results, Smoots said. The stands themselves now have more space to position more workers and points of sale to further reduce lines.