FanFood Survey Reveals How People Feel About Attending Games Post Lockdown
What once seemed like the distant future has arrived: states are gradually re-opening in phases. However, things will not be the same, and people’s mindset will not be the same.
FanFood has always been rooted in fans and built for fans. In order to better understand our end users, we conducted a survey of nearly a thousand fans across the country — specifically, what they think about attending sports events post lockdown; what they wish to see as precautionary measures; and how their feelings towards sports have shifted due to the pandemic.
We’re excited to uncover some valuable insights and share our findings — in particular, with venue and food service staff — to help you understand how your fans are going to be different when they return.
If you want to learn about what actions venues and businesses should take based on the survey findings, please see the full recording of a livestream discussion with Carson Goodale, CEO of FanFood and Nick Lawson, CEO of SQWAD.
As we have seen in the re-opened states such as Georgia, Tennessee and Alaska, things are not going back to normal anytime soon. Restaurants are opening with spaced out dining tables, masked waiters and even disposable menus. This is a combination of state recommended precautionary guidelines as well as the public’s cautious attitude. So what should venues do to ease the mind of the returning fans?
In our survey, the most popular measure (as voted by 87.4% surveyed) that fans think venues should implement is having more sanitation stations beyond just the existing bathrooms. The COVID-19 outbreak has certainly taught us the importance of hygiene, and frequent hand-washing has become a habit for many. It’s not surprising that people request easy access to sanitary stations.
The second most requested measure by 67.81% of the respondents is food and drink mobile ordering for contactless pickup. A concept popularized by the attempt to avoid physical interactions, “contactless” is now the new norm. For many businesses including restaurants, breweries, bars, drive-in theaters, the ability to offer contactless pickup has become the determining factor of whether they get to stay in business or shut down. That applies to stadiums and live event venues too. Mobile ordering allows fans to order anywhere anytime without having to congregate around the concession stands, which helps to avoid crowds and cash-handling.
In response to the shifting consumer mindset, we have been updating our mobile ordering platform for post-pandemic F&B operations. That includes the ability for customers to order ahead of an event, or order in real-time for no-contact express pickup, curbside pickup or delivery. We also added in-app display of coronavirus-related public announcements, as well as way-finding to help fans locate the nearest hand-washing stations.
2. Fans will still order concessions, but will more likely to do so if in-venue mobile ordering is an option.
The good news is that coronavirus hasn’t entirely deterred people from ordering and eating food in public. While 12.21% of fans indicated that they would not order concessions at all, the majority of fans (62.06%) said they will still be willing to order and eat during the game.
However, people are definitely looking for other options. For example, 10.31% of fans said they will order concessions and eat ahead of the game (which also encouraged us to build out our Order Ahead capability within the app), and 10.94% said they will order and eat during the game only if there’s contactless pickup options available.
This sentiment is further corroborated by a later question “How likely are you to order concession foods if mobile ordering for pick-up or in-seat delivery is offered?” Over 81% surveyed indicated “likely” or “very likely”. We’ve seen signs of this mentality even during the lockdown: one of the drive-in theaters we partnered with sold concessions exclusively through FanFood during quarantine and within one week, their concessions revenue reached a staggering five-digit number.
People still want to buy food and drinks and support your business — you just need to help them with the how.
3. Fans’ passion for live sports experience is still running high, although there’s definitely heightened caution.
You’ve probably asked yourself this question sometime over the past month: “How likely am I to return to a live sporting event post COVID-19?”
55.85% surveyed answered “very likely”, and 26.21% answered “likely”. That’s 82% of fans surveyed in total. However, there are still 8.27% of the fans sitting on the fence, and nearly 10% saying “unlikely” or “very unlikely”.
What does this mean for venues and teams? On the one hand, it’s important to act responsibly and take care of the loyal fans who do show up through necessary measures and protocols (as discussed above). On the other hand, having the right preventive policies and messaging can nudge those hesitant fans over the fence and encourage them to show up.
However, it’s still important to keep in mind that despite fan enthusiasm, stadium and venue capacity will inevitably be lower due to social distancing guidelines such as separating fans with empty seats and rows. Therefore venues will also have to think of creative ways to increase revenue streams and offset the potential reduction in sales. You can learn more about this topic in our upcoming livestream on May 7th.
4. Social media is the most popular platform for fan engagement during lockdown.
Fans can probably still vividly remember the initial intense emotions of frustration and anger when games after games were canceled: March Madness, NBA, MLB, even the Olympics…The new reality has prompted teams, brands and fans alike to resort to other channels for communication — and social media is certainly winning in the league.
During shelter in place, 82.7% of fans have been keeping up with their favorite sports team on social media, a huge margin ahead of the second most popular choice, Sports Center. FanFood has been talking with various industry veterans about how sports content and digital fan engagement have been changing as a result of the pandemic, such as with Barstool Sales Director Andrew Meeks, TeamWorks Media CEO Jay Sharman and Sports Innovation Lab President Josh Walker.
5. Promotions and giveaways are still effective ways to incentivize turnout at sports events.
Who could say no to a good discount or free gifts? Not even fans post coronavirus.
In our survey, we also asked the fans what initiatives could encourage them to show up at live sporting events, and the majority (66.71%) answered: reduced ticket prices. That is closely followed by Food and Beverage Discounts, chosen by 61.48% of the fans.
The third most popular answer, which doesn’t involve a price drop, is contactless F&B ordering and pickup. This again indicates that if you don’t want to hurt your margins with a price drop, having the right amenities that gives your fans the peace of mind is another very effective measure.
If you want to learn about what actions venues and businesses should take based on the survey findings, please see the full recording of a livestream discussion with Carson Goodale, CEO of FanFood and Nick Lawson, CEO of SQWAD.Full Survey Results: