According to Oracle’s sports consumer trends in 2021, 57% of people surveyed would like to be able to schedule food and drinks before arrival, and 49% of people say that pre-ordering should be a standard.

Why is that? Traditionally people attach certain notions around concession stands: the wait time is long; there are often huge crowds; it’s typically chaotic; you’d be stuck if you don’t have cash on you…

All that’s been shifting — partly due to people demanding greater convenience and shorter wait time, partly due to safety concerns made necessary by COVID-19. Social distancing practices aren’t going anywhere soon — many fans now expect new standards to be available when they return.

Pre-ordering, however, isn’t the only change fans would see when they return. In this blog, we break down some new ways concessions will be sold to sports fans this year.

1. Pre-ordering will be enabled to disperse traffic and offer greater convenience

Ever have those peak hours during a game when concession lines are just the longest? Concession stands can now mitigate that by allowing fans to schedule orders ahead of time with time intervals.

That means fans can schedule and pay for their concession orders even when they’re still at home, or at the parking lot, or waiting in the bathroom line…and have them for pickup or delivery to seat within a designated time interval.

Who would say no to skipping straight to the pickup window? Certainly not me.

Set up events for pre-ordering on fanfood

The Birmingham Legion FC, a partner of FanFood, uses our mobile ordering platform to offer pre-event ordering on top of on-demand ordering during the game. Not only would this help you generate revenue up front, but also you can better predict inventory based on the order volumes received.

2. Yes, Super Bowl concessions were over-priced. But fan-friendly pricing is the way to go.

For anyone who showed up hungry to Raymond James Stadium, they’d better be mentally prepared to spend around $100 for the astronomical food and drink prices at Super Bowl LV — if you want to treat yourself to both a main course, some snacks and a beer.

Fan complaints about high concessions prices is not new. But before you lament over shaving off the already-thin margins on concession items, hear me out.

When the Falcons dropped the price by 50% across all concessions basics from pretzels and hot dogs to soda and water, fans actually spent 16% more than they had at the Georgia Dome. The rationale is similar to the “$100 Target run” effect: once you get someone in the door — aka placing an order — it’s unlikely that they will stop there. Since the prices are cheaper, fans would order more items, and higher margin items, upon checkout and end up spending more overall.

Another strategy we recommend our partners to adopt is creating new combo packages and allow fans to customize their own combos. In fact, 44% of fans would love to buy a “game day” food and beverage package, and this is a great opportunity for you to encourage people to purchase more items per order.

For example, a combo deal could include one main course + one snack + one drink. Even though each single item might have a fan-friendly price, when combined your fans are actually spending more and you’re seeing higher per cap.

If you’re using a mobile ordering platform like FanFood, you can by default have all the toppings and add-ons selected, or allow your fans to customize their own combos by choosing an item from each category. All these are great tricks on increasing your per cap while making the experience smoother for the fans.

Customize combo deals on FanFood

3. Have pre-packaged snacks and hot meals ready

We published a whole blog on best COVID-friendly concession ideas. Needless to say, people are hyper conscious about physical interactions, especially during the food handling process. It’s important to have pre-packaged meal options ready for those who would rather sacrifice a freshly prepared hot meal for greater peace of mind.

An added advantage of having pre-packaged food options is that many of those would be snacks and cold food. Not having to prepare them during game day means your kitchen can fulfill more orders during the same period of time. We recommend having a variety of snacks, cold salads, granola cups, as well as boxed meals ready. This can drastically reduce your fulfillment time by up to 70%. You can still offer meals that need preparation on the spot, such as burgers that require grilling etc., for fans who don’t have qualms about eating out.

4. Roll out express pickup and in-seat delivery where appropriate

Depending on your staffing situation and capacity, you might want to disperse traffic as much as possible by setting up multiple pickup lanes and offer deliver to either seat, or designated drop-off points.

Gone are the days when concession lines congest the whole concourse area and people have to wait around for their names to be called out when food is ready. Today, operations are around how to keep people in their seats and separate them from one another as much as possible.

If you’re not operating at full capacity, you can still re-purpose some closed concession stands as pickup lanes, where runners can bring the food from the main concession stand and drop them off at various pickup windows.

re-opening concession stand with fanfood delivery app

Left: Souris Valley River Dogs’ express pickup window for FanFood mobile orders.

If you have plenty of staff to serve as runners, you can even offer in-seat delivery. This will keep your fans in the seat and minimize their movement around the venue. However, be mindful of how long it takes on average for a runner to move from the concession stand to a seat (especially if it’s too far), so that you don’t leave the fans waiting for too long.

To have a sneak peek of how FanFood helps you achieve all of the above and more, watch a demo video or even better, get in touch with our team to learn more here.