Last week, we hosted our first virtual event of 2022, “Modernizing Premium Seat Experiences in 2022 with Contactless Commerce,” hosted by Carson Goodale, FanFood co-founder and CSO, and Dustin Hemesath, FanFood co-founder and VP of Customer Success.

New customer expectations are reshaping in-venue premium area experiences. From club locations to suites, transactions for food and beverages have to meet the contactless and cashless desires of guests. Research by Gartner forecasts that, by 2024, 80% of ordering and replenishment will be touchless, solidifying current shifts in fan behavior.

We discussed how contactless commerce enables premium seat operators to create better ordering and payment experiences for guests. The benefits of contactless commerce extend beyond just guest expectations, too: the technology produces tremendous time-savings and operational benefits for staff, yields higher game day revenues, and delivers greater premium seat buyer satisfaction.

You can view the full event recording on our YouTube page, here!

Main challenges facing premium area food & beverage

We start by outlining key challenges facing the premium seat level. From talking with dozens of organizations, we’ve found that these pain points are consistent:

  • Teams currently rely on manual processes for accepting catering orders and payment. Traditional web forms and PDFs require additional correspondence with a customer, stacking up phone calls and emails that create headaches for staff.

  • A pressing need exists for venues to optimize their approach to staffing, and how suite servers are assigned on event day.

  • The need to keep up with cashless trends; 77% of Americans will prefer to pay with contactless payment methods, even after the pandemic ends. How should premium seat areas prepare to meet these guest expectations?

To address these challenges, teams are turning to contactless commerce technologies that bring greater speed and efficiency to their premium seating F&B operations.

Use cases for contactless commerce at premium levels

In the webinar, we explored two increasingly popular ways to apply contactless commerce at the premium seating level: pre-event ordering and in-suite ordering.

1) Pre-event ordering for meals & drink packages

To simplify the booking process for game day F&B, teams are integrating tools like FanFood’s purpose-built online catering portal into their existing suite booking process.

Suite customers can explore a venue’s complete food, drink and merchandise selection, add items and catering packages to their cart, and submit payment information instantly. Orders are received by the kitchen through FanFood’s order management system, ensuring the accurate and timely delivery of each order to the kitchen:

Smokies Premium Suites OrderingTeams like the Tennessee Smokies offer suite holders greater pre-event convenience with FanFood’s self-service catering portal. The experience provides tremendous time-savings for the Smokies’ suites staff and suite area kitchens, creating faster operations and improved order accuracy. The online order-taking process for premium seat F&B purchases has proven a game changer, removing significant friction points for the Smokies.

2) Game day in-suite ordering

In response to staffing challenges and contactless requirements, teams have begun deploying “scan, order & pay” service models in their premium suites. To request additional game day beverages or desserts, guests simply scan an in-suite QR code, select items from their phone, and order right from their device. The process is app-less, meaning guests don’t have to install any app – the purchase is completely through their phone browser:

FanFood Premium Suites Game Day Ordering

“Scan, order & pay” greatly improves the time it takes for servers to deliver additional food. The model also allows teams to reduce the number of suite servers needed on game day, optimizing the server-to-suite ratio required to accomodate guests, even with maximum attendance. 

The Chicago Cubs offer premium suite guests in-suite ordering across 60+ rental and multi-game suites. On a busy game night, when all suites are booked, this particular service model is a lifesaver for the premium services team, allowing them to take orders and serve guests with greater speed and efficiency.

Case studies for contactless commerce at the suites level

The Rocket City Trash Pandas:

In 2021, the Rocket City Trash Pandas went fully cashless at their ballpark. To support this initiative, the Trash Pandas utilized the FanFood platform for suites pre-ordering, as well as game day QR code ordering for in-suite services like beverages and desserts:

Rocket City Trash Pandas Contactless Ordering

For the Trash Panda’s hospitality team, the platform eliminates the need to manage time-intensive banquet event orders. The process also removes hassle around follow-ups for billing and invoicing, since payments are accepted upon the meal package booking in the portal. 

The results speak for themselves: meal pre-order revenue grew +8.5% as the 2021 season progressed, and tips for in-suite ordering were 11% on top of base sales through the platform.

Check out the Trash Pandas’s full contactless ordering case study here!

The Chicago Cubs:

Following a fan-less 2020 at Wrigley Field, 2021 saw the Cubs place priority on their guests’ comfort and safety. To minimize guest-staff interactions, the Cubs deployed QR code-based ordering throughout all of their 60+ premium suites, allowing fans to request food and drinks in an instant:

Contactless Ordering at the Cubs

For the 2022 season, the Cubs will be implementing FanFood’s pre-order portal for meal packages, beverage selections and merchandise sales. This will streamline processes for the Cubs’ suite staff and kitchen, simplifying how purchase information and payments are received ahead of game day:

Chicago Cubs FanFoodIs contactless commerce right for my premium seating areas?

Traditional workflows for suites food and beverage transactions may have been sustainable pre-COVID, but now fall short on meeting new customer expectations: contactless, cashless, and above all, more convenient. For teams, contactless commerce should be equally about the fan experience, just as much the back-of-house operational procedures.

From having worked with dozens of professional sports teams and venues, we know that every location requires a tailored rollout. The right technology alone isn’t enough; teams also need technology partners that support them, every step of the way. 

If you’re curious about FanFood for your location, get in touch with our team today to receive a personalized platform demo: