Venue operators looking to enhance the customer experience and boost revenues are increasingly turning to a cashless operating model. More and more stadia and arenas across the UK and around the world are looking to ditch cash in a bid to reduce queues, improve customer service, beef up security and improve profits. Reports suggest the average customer spend per visit to a stadium event can increase by as much as 25% when using a card payment instead of cash.
RSCA Anderlecht in Belgium has transitioned to a cashless model with great success. The club recorded increased sales of 35% in the first season and improved fan engagement. Anderlecht uses an NFC card-based system provided by PlayPass, which also fulfilled its requirement that the RFID system be used as a powerful data collection tool. The innovative digital transformation provides the club with data, bringing a logical scientific basis for making decisions advising commercial partnerships, marketing, fan offers, staffing and retail logistics. Fans have the choice of topping up their funds remotely in advance, via the mobile app, or in the stadium at top-up-stations before making their purchases in the stadium. Bert Van der Auwera, ‘general counsel’ for IT, said: “The fans loved it from the start, we expected an initial drop in revenue of 20% while they got used to it, but in reality we had a 35% increase from the beginning, which was brilliant.”
Speed of service
One of the benefits in operating cashlessly is that the time to serve each customer is reduced, resulting in increased throughput and revenues. This is particularly important when there is a short timeframe during a match to serve fans – at half-time for example. On the staffing side, there is also a benefit from improved security, with bar staff not having to handle cash. This saves on staffing costs and also cuts incidents of theft.
Adopting the model
Leicester City’s King Power Stadium is transitioning to cashless concourses this season. Over 80% of kiosks in General Admission areas at King Power Stadium were cashless last season, as part of a phased approach to improving the speed of service for supporters attending fixtures. The rollout means that supporters will only be able to purchase food and beverages using a debit or credit card with Chip and PIN, as well as mobile phones and contactless payments for amounts under £30. With King Power Stadium regularly sold out, cutting down concourse queuing times pre-match and at half-time has been a focus for the club and its food and beverage providers. The introduction of cashless tills to the majority of kiosks last season served to considerably reduce average waiting times, as well as improving security – particularly during busy periods.
Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane is also working towards becoming a fully cashless stadium during the 2019/20 season. The club said it will be operating new till systems and payment devices, allowing it to deliver the best possible fan experience at the world’s oldest professional stadium. No cash will be accepted at the majority of food and refreshment kiosks within the stadium, although there will be one cash/card till per kiosk. The results will see increased speed of service and shorter queue times, coupled with more payment options and improved hygiene, with staff not handling cash.
At Liverpool FC fans can expect to see speedier service at Anfield in future, with the club introducing cashless payments on match days. Following positive feedback from fans and a successful trial at concerts and major events during the summer, the club has begun a phased rollout with a number of bars, kiosks and food outlets inside the stadium operating a cashless service. Mobile and wearable payments, including Apple Pay and Google Pay, can also be used with this method supporting high-value contactless payments. The rollout aims to improve service times during peak periods and shorter service periods such as half-time. In addition to cashless payments, the club has already introduced a click and collect facility on all concourses. Fans can avoid the queues at half-time by pre-ordering food and drink for collection using the SeatServe App.
Paul Cuttill, vice president stadium operations, said: “As a club we are continuing to invest in technology to improve our matchday experience. We are trialling this service across the stadium with the hope of reducing queues during peak times. It will also make things more secure for us and will ultimately help us to deliver the best possible customer service to all our fans. We appreciate there are those supporters who like to pay in cash, so will continue to offer a provision at a number of kiosks inside the ground. The good news is that a large proportion of our fans are already paying by card rather than with cash in the stadium, so we are hoping that the transition will be quick and easy for many fans.”
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