EIGHT OR NINE MONTHS AGO, the challenges of executing sporting events were not the same as they are today, according to Rob Sine, chief revenue officer at ticketing and data insights solutions provider AXS. “We couldn’t have anticipated all of the challenges venues and teams face today, but the last year gave us the opportunity to maximize our solutions for any future,” he says. “We have definitely hit the ground running.”

AXS works with teams like FC Dallas, LA Galaxy, Las Vegas Golden Knights, LA Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, and the USGA for their major golf tournaments to capture fan data for optimized fan experiences and increased team/venue revenues. This has meant engaging in a two-pronged approach, says Sine. “When the pandemic hit, we had to figure out how to support our partners, and how to support our partner’s fans,” he says. “This wasn’t an either/or focus, but rather, dividing our attention in two directions.”

For AXS team partners, this meant determining solutions to keep their fans happy and engaged, eager to return when games do. “Teams had to help their fans with refunds, postponements, and ticket values,” Sine explains. “Teams needed a strategy to deliver comfort to their fans when it came to their tickets.”

Putting itself in its partners’ shoes, AXS determined where they could have the biggest impact. “We tackled the needs of current ticket holders, today, and also, what to expect when games return,” he says.

Sine says that from his vantage point, future game experiences will provide both similarities and differences. “Many experiences from other aspects of life will translate over and feel familiar,” he says. “Think of staggered entry for airplane seating, for instance, but in a stadium. Or socially distanced seating, which will be a new experience.”

Overriding everything for the customer, however, will be that contact-less experience. No more cash, no more paper tickets, and even the potential for biometrics systems like what we see in airports. “We’re going to see an overhaul of legacy systems,” Sine says. Everything about the event experience will instead reside on fan devices, which they will use to park and purchase food and merchandise.

Where making these changes pre-pandemic might have given customers pause, Sine says that now they will be welcomed and expected. “The payoff is that it will streamline the customer experience,” he says. “Venues will have customer data and use that to upsell or identify better customer service. It will enhance the overall experience for everyone.”

Originally published by Sports Business Journal, February 2021