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Volume 22 No. 19
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Study: In-seat F&B ordering still top of mind

Fans would rather not stand in line for concessions.
Photo: Getty Images

A new survey shows that sports fans want to be able to order food and beverages from their seats through mobile apps, but concessionaires say the concept continues to be challenging to implement.


The National Association of Concessionaires, in conjunction with SurveyMe, polled 2,760 U.S. sports facility attendees in June and July and the results offer a glimpse into their spending habits, from their favorite food to what they would like to see added to the menu. The survey found that 77 percent of fans say they are disappointed when ballparks, stadiums and arenas don’t offer in-seat ordering.


“The trend really driving this is that people want things to come to them,” said Danielle Lazor, vice president of design, development and retail operations for concessionaire Aramark.


NAC Executive Vice President Dan Borschke isn’t surprised fans want in-seat apps and other technology such as self-service kiosks. “Look at who their audience is,” he said. “A millennial isn’t going to want to stand in line.”


In-seat ordering, however, has been tough to implement, including getting fans to download and use apps. “There is a difference between people’s appetite for in-seat apps and their actual usage,” said Paul Pettas, communications director for concessionaire Centerplate.


Centerplate recently launched in-seat ordering using QR codes in premium areas at BC Place in Vancouver, while Aramark tried out a similar program in select sections at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia with a focus on beverage sales. Neither require downloading an app. Aramark is looking to expand the Philadelphia program.


Beyond the technology, some buildings have struggled to figure out how to staff and get food to fans. Some teams have tested systems that allow fans to order from their seats via apps, then go to select counters or lockers where they can pick up their food, beverage and merchandise. The Carolina Panthers are testing such a system this season in the 100 level of Bank of America Stadium.


“In-seat delivery has largely disappointed,” said Mike Plutino, CEO of Food Service Matters, referring to the logistical and usage challenges. The F&B consulting firm’s clients include the Golden State Warriors, the Atlanta Hawks and the Rose Bowl.


Two-for-one deals are the second-most-desired option from fans surveyed, behind in-seat ordering.


“Millennials are really into 2-for-1 deals and coupons,” Borschke said.