WiFi is no longer a nice perk for stadiums, arenas, malls and airlines—it’s a must. With the popularity of photo and video-driven apps like Snapchat and Instagram, along with file sizes getting better with every new high-res iPhone camera, customers expect to be connected everywhere they go with fast speeds and low barriers to log on.
In 2019, it’s not unreasonable for customers to expect WiFi connectivity at every turn. Over 82 airlines offer in-flight WiFi (a 17% increase from 2017) and nearly all NFL stadiums have adopted in-venue WiFi. In addition, WiFi ranks as the most important amenity guests want when staying in a hotel and has even made diners “more loyal to restaurants” that offer free WiFi.
But beyond providing a better experience and helping fans connect to the internet, WiFi is helping brands connect to their customers and teams connect to their fans, even after they log off. Regardless of where you’re at on the WiFi spectrum: researching, upgrading, or already up and running, here’s how to make the most of it.
Enable access to mobile apps
Just because someone’s on their phone, doesn’t mean they are disengaged. In fact, it might mean the exact opposite. Venues, festivals, restaurants, retail stores, and airlines create one-stop shop apps they drive customers to keep them engaged. The problem with a one-stop shop? The more the app tries to do, the more data it takes to do it or download the app in the first place. With limited data plans or 100,000 people trying to use their cell service at once, lacking WiFi is a surefire way to get fans to ignore your app.
Why do you want people in your app?
Reach customers with personalized messaging: Push notifications from apps can alert fans to offers based on their past interactions within the app, or like the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, help fans find concessions, restrooms, or even their seat.
Then, of course, there’s the data. First off, apps help venues narrow in on audience interests before, during, and after the game (e.g., what merchandise gets viewed by certain groups of ticket holders, what bathrooms get the most traffic). Forms and social authentication can also gate high-value content to learn increasingly more about fans. For example, fans may be required to log in through Facebook to gain additional sweepstakes entries for a locker room tour.
Eliminating the anonymity of paper stubs
While more and more teams move toward mobile tickets, physical stubs are nowhere near gone. That combined with the secondary market makes it difficult for venues to know who’s actually in the arena, and thus who they should target for tickets to future games.
Fans logging into the venue’s app can help alleviate this, but won’t give a complete picture. The first reason is because out-of-venue people might log into the app to watch replays or get other content, you’ll have to filter out a lot of noise. The second is that not everyone who’s in your stadium will log into or download your app.
Having a basic form to log onto your network with name and email, along with an opt in checkbox to receive communications can add fans who didn’t buy a ticket directly from you. If you then drive those fans to your app (e.g., redirecting them to the app store after they log on), you can learn more about their in-venue behavior, even if they don’t also log into the app. Without past ticketing behavior, even the day of the week they log onto your network helps, since you can then target them for midweek games vs weekend games or vice-versa.
Learning more about your audience
Finally, let’s say that you do know a ticket buyer is in the stadium. How much do you know about them if they’re not sending you behavioral signals through your app? The same goes for airlines, retail locations and quick service restaurants. You might get their purchasing data, but can you get deeper insights in another way? WiFi offers a few ways to add valuable data points beyond a basic form-fill in your app. The quickest way to the most data points is through social authentication. Facebook login can offer name, email, birthday, and all of someone’s Facebook likes. It might not be readily apparent why likes would be valuable, but it can help in honing in on interests of event-goers (e.g., fans of a specific clothing line, affinities for opponents the team might be playing on later in the season, fans of specific players).
Locations can also precede login with survey questions that help get to know the fanbase. If you sell your WiFI login as sponsorship inventory, you can create tailored questions to provide leads for your sponsor. For example, you can ask users if they’re in the market for a new car for a dealership sponsor, what kind of car they’re interested in, and if they’re interested in being contacted.
WiFi is full of data collection opportunities. Whether you choose to make it one part of a multichannel data collection strategy that tracks behavior or just a simple way to identify who’s in your stadium or festival, use it to start getting to know your audience better.