On Trend: Digitally Enhanced Experiences Are Taking Over Live Events

Attending a live event, such as a game or concert, is a unique experience, but increasing costs and crowd-induced inconvenience have driven more consumers to watch from the comfort of their living rooms.  In order to lure fans—especially younger generations—back to venues, event organizers and venue owners alike are pushing for live experiences enhanced by mobile and location-based technology.

When designing a digital experience to complement a live event, the first step is to identify whether the event is more location- or time-dependent. Although both types rely on widespread smartphone usage, a strong WiFi connection, and proximity technology like beacons, the user experiences they offer can differ significantly:

  • Location-dependent apps work great for events that happen frequently in a specific venue , even if the audience changes each time. This is best shown in the VenueNext app for Levi’s Stadium, home to the SF Giants. The app boasts features that cover everything from digital tickets and parking passes to instant replays on smartphones and beacon-enabled seat locating. The app also offers convenient services such as mobile food ordering, in-stadium navigation, and real-time updated queue length, all of which encourage spending on concessions and merchandise, thereby boosting revenues for the venues.
  • Event-based apps are better during events in which the audience stays the same throughout its limited yet intensive time frame, as in the case of conferences or music festivals. Therefore, organizers typically design digital experiences that are heavy on notifications, event streaming, and social interaction. The SXSW GO app, for example, provides the users with personalized schedule building, event audio streaming enabled by SoundCloud, and a geo-fenced SXSocial network connecting thousands of its attendees.

Despite the differentiation, digitally enhanced tools are slowly but surely changing the way people experience live events, which opens up new opportunities for event organizers and brand sponsors to connect with the audience.