Consumer Technologies Drive the Motorsports' Fan Experience

Brandon McNulty, CTO, International Speedway Corporation
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Brandon McNulty, CTO, International Speedway Corporation

In the last 10 years, technology and social media have grown to become a significant component of a consumer’s everyday life. From Generation Z operating in ‘mobile-only’ mode to the popularity of messaging apps and wearable technologies, consumers are constantly connected and rapidly consuming content. Technology companies must innovate and continue creating new products to meet and exceed consumer expectations.

Nowhere are these expectations realized in a greater capacity than in sports. Sporting events foster social environments centered around competition–whether witnessing a live event or watching a broadcast with family and friends. Socialization is at the core–how fans follow sports, how participants play sports and how fans experience sports.

Socializing in sports is only amplified by modern technology including HDTV, multimedia and digital content and social media channels. Providing a content-rich onsite fan experience is more important than ever to keep fans engaged and attending live events. Venue technology has an incredible opportunity to create experiences that foster emotional connections for fans.

Scale Realizes Benefits

Imagine the size of the “World Center of Racing” – 15 Florida sports stadiums can fit within the infield of Daytona International Speedway. Motorsports facilities can be massive in size and that can present challenges for Wi-Fi connectivity, IP networks, telecom carriers, and enhanced video experiences. If the operator installs a fiber optic plant, it needs to support an antenna platform for cellular connection, but also an IP connected network that handles security, surveillance, broadcast, timing and scoring for on-track competition, and large screen video delivery, all while being flexible for future needs. ISC has the unique ability to leverage its 13 motorsports entertainment properties to garner economies of scale. Priorities continue to be Wi-Fi connectivity and mobilization of technology, allowing venues the ability to deliver all platforms.

Ever-Improving Fan Experience

Fan Experience technologies enhance the connectivity, engagement and interaction of an event day. ISC maps the entire fan experience from the moment guests arrive on property until the checkered flag waves. We are diligent in identifying every zone the fan may traverse throughout the day and what their goals and the business goals are in each zone. We identify every channel of engagement or content consumption point, layering on all the technologies that are available or can be developed to enhance the experience or provide new experiences. We understand that fans want to have a unique and emotional connection to the venue and the sport and those they can select their desired method of interaction. We facilitate dynamic technologies to customize content in everything they touch from the barcode on their ticket, to their mobile app or future wearable technologies.

Mobile Changes the Game

The goal of ISC’s mobile app strategy is to create a singular platform and one-stop-shop for fan engagement, beyond just facility apps. Guests could utilize a custom, location-based application that assists them in navigating traffic and determining convenient parking. Not only would it guide fans to parking nearest their seat, but it would understand post-event navigation needs and display ideal traffic routes. These technologies could also up sell a customer with a premium experience such as signing the Start / Finish line with their favorite driver. Just click the mobile app, buy the pass and enter the pre-race area without waiting in line. It could even offer an upgraded service – shop for merchandise in the track side retail area and then scan a mobile device choosing to have that merchandise available for pick up following the event or shipped home.

Marketing Meets Technology

What may have been traditionally in the purview of only marketing is now also tasked to CIOs. Venue technology crosses into consumer marketing and product activation within the facilities. Everything becomes a marketable asset and has the ability to be branded. This allows partnership interactions to become enhanced and extended beyond an event day. A product advertisement playing on screens within the concourse can offer the latest deal. But, how does a fan take advantage of that offer? Venues can provide subsonic audio codes embedded into the commercial, beaconing technologies and even mobile apps with spatial awareness so fans can engage with offers in real time, creating immediate ROI.

In the future, consumer technology will continue to drive advancements in sports venue technology, increasing at an all-time rapid rate. CIOs will need to remain ahead of the curve to offer the latest adaptations for their core business to grow live event attendance.

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