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Reliable Network Connectivity is Key to Best Fan Experience

You get there by continuous monitoring and proactive solutions

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Wi-Fi is an integral part of our daily lives. We’re a connected society–92% of Americans have internet access at home and high expectations regarding connectivity elsewhere. Sports fans and concertgoers rely on mobile connectivity as part of a complete experience. Keeping fans coming to a stadium is as dependent on delivering a superior experience as it is on who is on the stage or field. 

The importance of providing fan connectivity can’t be underestimated, and the struggle to keep a network reliable in large open areas is one that vexes wireless engineers across the country. Fans want to post social media updates and videos, as well as use cloud-based applications. They expect seamless connectivity that supports whatever they want to do and provides an opportunity for venues to create interactive experiences that bolster attendance.

At issue is the ability of venues to provide reliable, speedy Wi-Fi in large open spaces. It’s not about establishing a connection–it’s about reliable performance. And providing a performance that creates a memorable experience for fans requires a transparent look across the network to proactively manage its health and solve connection issues–before fans realize they’ve happened. We understand the challenge to keep Wi-Fi reliable in large open spaces, so this article explores this struggle. We’ll also offer tips to help you meet fan needs and how monitoring helps improve Wi-Fi in high-density areas requiring capacity deployments.

The struggle to provide fan connectivity

The Wi-Fi traffic demands in a stadium are enormous, and challenges abound. These venues are built with large amounts of steel and concrete, two materials notorious for signal disruption. The shape–usually circular or oval–also complicates things in terms of differences in signal reception. Add in the heavy amount of data uploaded constantly by fans tweeting, emailing, and sharing photos and videos, and you have a perfect storm. 

Stated simply, it’s a high density of people in a confined space with huge traffic demand, and a lot of this demand is coming from deep within the stadium where signals have problems reaching. Abundant smartphone users are concentrated in one space. Endpoints fight for bandwidth and a reliable connection as some users are connecting multiple devices. People are using applications, they are moving around, and some times of day are busier than others. Adding fan expectations on top of all of this presents quite a conundrum, but there are ways to solve it.

Reduce wait times with digital ticketing

Today’s fans want the convenience of purchasing tickets in advance, and no one likes to wait in a long line. The fan experience can be elevated if you offer a Wi-Fi connection that facilitates contactless payment and entry. This speeds up the entry process: fans walk up to the gate, and in mere seconds, they’re in and moving toward their seats.

Stadium employees benefit from digital ticketing as well. Digital ticketing allows:

  • Better capacity management, making it easy to limit the number of tickets sold.
  • Appropriate staffing at the gates reduces overhead.
  • The opportunity to gather data about your attendees so you can market to them later.

A less-than-stellar Wi-Fi connection means fans can’t pull up their digital tickets, staff can’t scan their badges for entry, and all of your efforts to streamline the experience will mean nothing.

How to meet the needs of stadium guests with Wi-Fi

Social sharing is one use of stadium Wi-Fi; attendees upload photos, add videos to Snapchat and Instagram or debate plays with a group on Twitter. They also want to be able to use their phone to check in when they arrive at the stadium. A survey of sports fans by Deloitte discovered that guests also want to use their mobile devices for these additional reasons:

  • To watch in-stadium entertainment
  • To have increased interaction with the team, sponsors, and other fans
  • To see relevant highlights and statistics during the event on their mobile device

All of this requires a robust Wi-Fi network, which is something those surveyed found lacking. Satisfaction rates from both fanatic and casual fans were between 20% and 57% for all survey categories. It’s apparent that fans aren’t getting what they need and want: an improved experience. And it’s that experience that is going to fill seats. 

Installing Wi-Fi is only the first step. To maintain a healthy network environment and provide the experience fans demand, you need a constant window that provides a complete picture with:

  • Continual visibility, validation, and control of your WLAN
  • Reduced meantime to resolution, should problems arise
  • Continuous optimization of endpoints

You’ll also want to be able to uncover RF and channel interference, as well as configuration, coverage, and congestion issues. The ability to assess various data points as devices connect to your network will give you insight into device experiences and improve the fan experience. Let’s talk about how monitoring can help. 

Monitor your network from a fan’s POV to improve the experience

People have high expectations when it comes to Wi-Fi, and all of your efforts to use it as an enhancement to sell tickets depend on its reliability. This requires the ability to solve any connection issues before they are experienced by users. It also means that you have to manage overall network health proactively. 

The focus must be on fan connectivity where it matters the most: the edges of your network where devices and endpoints connect. Your monitoring technology solution should work with all industry-standard wireless access points, should be cloud-based, and be infinitely scalable.

Monitoring is the only way to gauge your wireless network’s true health and strength. You’ll also want technology that can provide detailed reporting on wireless coverage, network congestion, interference, and more. 

Providing an engaging fan experience has a great ROI. Per the aforementioned survey, higher fan engagement translates to significant gains, such as:

  • 67% higher game attendance
  • 175% higher spending on tickets
  • 22% overall increase in satisfaction

A large part of an experience that increases fan spending and loyalty is a reliable and speedy Wi-Fi network with the technology to support it.

7SIGNAL’s monitoring devices

A great customer experience is at the core of business success. At 7SIGNAL, we understand this need and offer products and services to manage, optimize and maintain your Wi-Fi network, even in the most demanding customer environments.

7SIGNAL’s wireless experience monitoring platform gives you continuous information about the health of your Wi-Fi network. The Sapphire Eye® can be installed on your network devices so that you’ll be able to solve issues before any customers or users notice.

Learn more about our platform and how it makes a significant impact on the customer experience. Contact the 7SIGNAL team today.

7SIGNAL® is the leader in wireless experience monitoring, providing insight into wireless networks and control over Wi-Fi performance so businesses and organizations can thrive. Our cloud-based wireless network monitoring platform continually tests and measures Wi-Fi performance at the network’s edges, enabling fast solutions to digital experience issues and more robust connections for mission-critical users, devices, and applications. Learn more at www.7signal.com.