How has the game changed for immersive sporting events?


James Noake, UK Senior Event Production Manager, Momentum Worldwide 

As we hurtle towards the summer of 2022, with all its extra Bank Holidays, people are buying tickets for big, live in-person events and planning ahead again. Although, we are not returning to life as we once knew it, experiences have well and truly evolved. Consumer expectations and needs are different and the structure of physical events, such as sporting occasions, is one big area that’s absorbed innovation to reflect these changes.

One instrumental change to innovation is consumer’s adaptation of technology during Covid. Due to this change, true, immersive experiences can be offered at physical events. Pre Covid, immersive experiences at sporting events mainly focused on what people could see – big screens, crowds and players but immersive now means so much more. New experiences will be more focused on sensory immersion, enveloping the consumer in sound, vibrations, sight, and even smell. These augmented, virtual, and mixed-reality trends (all combined called “immersive experiences”) are expected to hit $30 billion by 2030 (source: West Agile Labs). This means that brands, whether they like it or not, will need to embrace and double down on their technology advancements which means that 5G will become more of a necessity, rather than an option, over the next few years so that things can be experienced in real-time in real-life.

We know what consumers are capable of when it comes to immersive experiences but what do they really want and expect when it comes to in-person events? Recent research we carried out shows that from an emotional standpoint, consumers simply want to feel ‘normal’ again. We have all been through a lot in the past couple of years and a way to try and move on is to get back to some sort of normality. Consumer’s want to be reunited with friends and family, arguing over what team should win or who is getting drinks in while the match is still playing. The importance is having a place to connect with loved ones once again and sporting events provide that platform.

Our research has also shown that 70% of consumers are looking for events and experiences that will improve their mental wellbeing and bring them joy, making them happy (69%). Local initiatives or events that take place in communities have garnered more appeal. This is due to it requiring less travel and provides a sense of comfort to consumers who are emerging and savouring post-pandemic life. In fact, 88% of consumers feel more connected to their local communities since COVID (source: Accenture). 80% of consumers say their relationship with brands have changed in the way they now appreciate brands who have implemented local initiatives into their community. Brands such as Nike and American Express have connected with the local community over Covid, which has improved brand loyalty. Providing immersive experiences on a local level is something that should be considered.

Immersive experiences can also influence key considerations such as crowd control which then helps create a seamless, relaxing experience for a consumer. Fans being able to order food and drink via their phones to only collect once ready has altered sports games forever. No more missing the goals because of long queues! Technology can also be used to notify when there is a small wait at the toilets. All these elements, which seem minor alone, create an overall more enjoyable experience where consumers can focus on their sport and their loved ones.

There are still many sports fixtures to start and I’m sure we will start to see innovations being adopted that will become the norm and make being a fan much more immersive and enjoyable, no matter whether your team wins or loses.  

About the Author:

James Noake is UK Senior Event Production Manager at Momentum Worldwide 

James has over a decade of experience working on the planning and delivery of a number of the UK’s most prestigious events across all industry sectors. As Senior Event Production Manager at Momentum Worldwide UK his passion for creating unique audience experiences is demonstrated in the work he produces. He prides himself on being able to draw on varied skill sets and knowledge of all aspects of event management, production and operations to create memorable experiences. 

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