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How can conversational AI aid the hospitality experience at sports stadiums?

John Campbell, Managing Director of Voice Experience agency, Rabbit & Pork

Conversational technology has impacted many parts of our lives. The first phase of this technology has been very much focused on home and personal phone devices. However now with users more familiar with conversational interfaces and understanding of the benefits this technology can give you, we’re now seeing a second phase of rollouts of conversational interfaces outside of the home. 

One of these areas that are starting to embrace technology is hospitality and sports venues. There is a  great British pastime of going to the match, the races or to the cricket. For some that might be standing on the Kop at Anfield watching Liverpool play. Enjoying the raucous atmosphere in the Hollies stand at Edgbaston or watching the final furlongs race at Newmarket. 

Along with the spectacle of watching sporting events, match days are synonymous with food and drink. Pints before the match, a pie and pint at half time or a Bovril on a cold Tuesday night at Oldham  (Boundary Park being the coldest place in the UK!). 

However, many sporting venues continue to struggle with poor service and long waiting times to get food and drinks. As with many aspects of life, technology is starting to step in to try and solve some of these problems, many of which were expedited due to COVID. Digital entry into stadiums rather than physical tickets being checked, pre-ordering drinks and digital currency have all helped to make the match day experience smoother for many fans. 

We are now seeing technology being used in the corporate hospitality areas of stadiums too. Tens of thousands of people each week up and down the country will attend a sporting event taking up the opportunity for a little bit of luxury in either a corporate box or large lounges. 

In these situations using some of that technology seen in the general areas of the ground hasn’t been adopted. Often the people in the corporate boxes will change each week, and so asking users to download an app, authenticate and allocate to individual corporate boxes to make food and drink orders is not a feasible process. 

One way to solve this is using a digital concierge allocated to the corporate box, this could be using a  tablet or now an Amazon Alexa Echo device. Visitors to the box can just ask Alexa for their request, which could be for a round of drinks, some snacks or some blankets. 

Users don’t need to download any app, or sign into anything. All they need is to use their voice to make the request. Orders for drinks and food can go directly to point of sales, removing the triple journey problem for the staff. 

Typically there are three journeys for staff. A walk to the box to take an order. A walk back to the bar,  and the third journey back to the bar with the drinks. And for larger stadiums often there are many new agency staff who have no idea where to go for drinks. 

There are further usage benefits of having a smart speaker in a room. Integration with smart devices means you can control the TV, heating and lighting. Hooking up the Alexa with a sports data provider such as Opta by Stats Perform would allow guests to ask questions about the game, for example, the number of completed passes by a player, previous results or in the rugby what is the likelihood of the kicker making the next kick using kick projection technology.

All this can be accomplished with Alexa Smart Properties where Alexa’s are installed in a fleet management system. ASP is different to a normal Alexa setup at home. Guest privacy is taken care of as no personal Amazon account is needed and no voice recordings are saved to the cloud. 

By tapping into Voice capabilities, a new era for Sports Stadiums dawns.

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