- As part of LaLiga’s Customer Experience Committee, clubs are working to create new digital experiences for fans.
- Embracing digital transformation has become essential to maintaining existing fans and attracting new ones, according to G2 Strategic CEO Marshall Glickman.
While LaLiga stadiums remain closed to fans due to the coronavirus pandemic, there is hope that supporters can safely return during 2021. When they do, the experience may be different to what it was before.
For more than four years, LaLiga clubs have been working together to bring technology into the heart of their operations. In the current climate, this can help to meet new health and safety measures and improve long-term relationships with fans.
To help clubs share expertise and best practice, LaLiga is utilising the Customer Experience Committee (CXC), a series of workshops created in 2016 to help all clubs build the most effective relationships with fans. The current focus of the CXC is the future of the matchday experience, focusing on business intelligence, digital ticketing and service innovation.
Supporting this initiative is G2 Strategic, a global sports, entertainment and venue development consultancy that has partnered with LaLiga since 2016 and provides its expertise to all clubs of LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank.
For G2 Strategic CEO Marshall Glickman, the need for clubs to embark on digital transformation, from ticketing to engaging the new generation, is greater than ever.
“Paper ticketing was on its way out before COVID-19 and the transition will now accelerate,” Glickman said. “In fact, digital ticketing, if properly implemented and with the right software to back it up, will open up a myriad of new opportunities for clubs to monetise and collect valuable customer data. We will be able to associate every ticket with the person that is using it, data that is extremely valuable to the club, while still providing the customer with GDPR protections.”
“Digital transformation is not only about paperless ticketing, contactless payment and touch-less access control,” he continued. “It’s also about smart signage, crowd intelligence software, artificial intelligence, augmented reality and other methods that make the fan experience convenient, safe and, especially, responsive to the sensitivities of the next generation of fans.”
With assistance from G2 Strategic, LaLiga has been working alongside clubs to incorporate such technologies for the past five seasons. “LaLiga is doing an amazing job promoting these concepts and investing capital resources,” Glickman continued.
“We must ensure that clubs are able to adapt and this means capital and human resources to upgrade the stadiums and create new commercial assets that can be well monetised. The clubs participating in the CXC are having regular dialogue about just about every topic that impacts the experience of our existing customers, and especially about what changes should be considered to attract the next generations.”
Managing health requirements digitally
While many of the concepts that the CXC have been discussing were being developed even before the pandemic, the arrival of COVID-19 has presented some unique challenges. LaLiga is working alongside G2 Strategic and clubs to ensure that the eventual return of supporters to stadiums is as safe and secure as possible.
Glickman believes it will be essential for clubs to bring in the mandatory use of hand sanitiser, social distancing, compulsory mask wearing, cashless transactions and more, with technology playing a significant role.
“New crowd intelligence technology is emerging that can help manage crowd control efficiently, which taps into existing WiFi and security cameras to detect clusters,” he said.
“Furthermore, there are several companies developing software that will upload vaccine and/or negative rapid test verification to be embedded with the ticket, which, in my view, is the ultimate way to protect fans and to send a clear message that attending matches in person is safe.”
Another important topic being changed technology is the collection of payment, particularly regarding season tickets.
“Clubs should begin to adopt new ticket products, especially Netflix-like monthly subscriptions and pay-as-you-go models, so that customers are not forced to pay for an entire season ticket in a lump sum,” Glickman proposed. “Some fans are living on a tight budget, especially small business owners and service workers, so the clubs should be flexible about payment options and expand their offering to include more than traditional season and single-match tickets.”
Having worked with LaLiga and clubs for over four years, G2 is well placed to help clubs continue to refine their services to meet changing demands. “G2 Strategic’s support has made a significant contribution to upgrading the business activities of LaLiga clubs,” said LaLiga President Javier Tebas. “We want clubs to operate off the pitch as well as they do on the pitch, so are pleased that they can hear Glickman’s perspective.”
G2 meanwhile praised the willingness of LaLiga clubs to embrace the digital evolution that needs to accompany the fans on their way back through the turnstiles. “The biggest change is mentality,” Glickman noted. “It’s time to set aside the status quo and be open to change. This is the most important aspect of G2 Strategic’s role, so we are very proud that the clubs are working towards the future rather than only the next match.”