As America has been pulling out of the COVID-19 pandemic, live events have returned throughout the country. Concerts came back. Comedy clubs opened. NFL and NBA games allowed fans again. Throughout 2021, millions of Americans flocked back to these events, eager to get what they’d missed in 2020.
Fans and concertgoers are growing used to COVID safety protocols: masks in many venues, no-touch transactions, and health screenings. Since some fans remained hesitant, while others chomped at the bit to watch their favorite teams and artists in person, events made sure to maximize options for both at-home and in-person viewing, in order to ensure everyone received the best experience.
As we leave the pandemic behind and enter the endemic coronavirus phase, some changes will stick around. If you’re planning to see a show, a big game, or a postponed tour, here’s what you can expect.
Your Phone is Your Ticket – In More Ways Than One
In spring of 2020, businesses and venues of all types scrambled to eliminate hand-to-hand and hand-to-surface contact. Luckily, smartphone apps made touchless transactions and screenings easy. And many consumers came to like the convenience. As fans return to stadiums, this increased role for digital devices will remain.
Your smartphone is now a one-stop shop. It’s your parking pass, your ticket, your COVID-screening checklist, your event program, your map for navigation, your means of demonstrating support, and your connection to friends and family. It’s how you order and pay for food and drinks. It’s probably even how you bought your tickets in the first place. In the last few years, mobile devices have gone from unpleasant distraction at rock shows and MLB games to a central part of the experience.
Your mobile phone is even your ticket to fun. It now gives you access to the best in fan engagement.
Fan Engagement via Digital Devices
In addition to playing a more central role in event logistics, digital devices have now become a key link between teams and their followers. With fan engagement platforms, smartphone users now have closer access to their favorite players and musicians.
In 2021, sports teams routinely deploy promotional content, pump-up videos, player shorts, and other messages over these platforms. And smartphones have become a new avenue for fans to show their support – in addition to traditional cheering.
Engagement platforms have also become a primary driver of crowd bonding. Fans can connect with and communicate with other audience members – and even their friends at home. They can participate in group photo filters, which get displayed up on the big screen. And they can compete with each other in predictive trivia and games.
Best of all, this technology comes with the opportunity for rewards. Versus’ XEO Platform, the premier in second screen fan engagement, allows event sponsors to offer coupons and discounts for their products and services as rewards for gaming and trivia. Fans earn points by playing these games, or for correctly guessing event outcomes. Their points can then be redeemed towards those rewards.
Flashpoint technology also allows event organizers (with the consent of smartphone users) to take over the screens and vibrate feature of smartphones in a crowd. Thousands of phones can easily be synced to halftime shows, or to team opens, or to other special moments.
The Fun Starts Before the Event
The COVID pandemic also increased the amount of early communication between event organizers and attendees. Safety protocols and health screenings had to be sent out in advance. People are required to confirm they’d tested negative in order to attend.
Now, platforms like XEO allow teams and sponsors to engage with fans on a more personal level. Fan engagement technology drives enthusiasm prior to events by deploying predictive trivia in the days leading up, giving users the chance to win rewards before the start of any gameplay or singing.
Early engagement keeps the event top-of-mind for sports-fans and concertgoers. Customized games (like XEO’s Football Trash Can Toss – which the Philadelphia Eagles turned into Recycling Bin Toss) whet their anticipation. Clever polling can help gauge audience sentiment, providing useful data for organizers.
What This Means for You
If you’re planning on heading to a game or a concert soon, you can still expect some COVID safety protocols. Beyond protocols, you can also expect a more interactive experience with phone in hand.
Your smartphone will not only help you get inside, order refreshments, and pay for parking, it will now let you connect with your fellow audience members—and with your team or the musicians.
Expect some messaging from the event sponsors before the event. But you can also expect some fun pre-event engagement.
And if your event organizers are working with Versus Systems (the parent company for the XEO Platform), you can earn real-world rewards and participate in games and contests. You can expect extra engagement during the event itself—perhaps Turbo Trivia or exclusive photo filters.
Most of all, you can still expect to have fun. COVID may have changed some things but one thing it didn’t change is the enthusiasm fans have for their favorite artists, and the love sports fans have for their favorite game. Whether you stay home or go out to games and concerts is up to you. You’ll still have an opportunity to participate in more ways than one—especially when the fan engagement experience is powered by Versus. Either way, you’ll find that the important part hasn’t changed.
Despite the hardship caused by COVID-19, people continue to love music and sports for the same reasons they always have. And musicians and players still love to perform and play. Events may look a little different, but at heart, they’re still the same.