A survey of over 1,000 fans of the most popular sports found that queues are fans’ biggest pain point at matches

Research by tappit, a global cashless solution specialist for sports, festivals and entertainment venues, has found that fans’ enjoyment of sporting events is being significantly compromised by poor aspects of the match day experience.

The survey of over 1,000 UK fans of football, rugby, cricket and motorsports revealed that atmosphere is the best aspect of attending, no matter the sport. However, there are aspects of the sporting experience that are detracting from this, particularly the process of making purchases at the event. 73% of football fans, 63% of rugby fans, 54% of cricket fans and 49% of motorsport fans claim long queues at food and drinks stands are the worst part of buying something at a match.

In addition, the marketing that fans receive from clubs and venues does not do enough to foster loyalty, with many respondents feeling like they are sent generic offers. This is particularly a problem for motorsports fans: 76% would prefer to receive personalised marketing content based on their previous behaviour.

The research also highlights the areas in which organisers could improve the sporting experience for fans. The study found that the majority of fans across all sports would prefer to use contactless, NFC or prepaid cards or wristbands to pay for something at a match over cash. 57% of football fans, 69% of rugby fans, 65% of cricket fans and 64% of motorsports fans expressed a preference for cashless payments.

The research comes at a time when there is an increasing amount of data demonstrating the sizable opportunity of sports in the UK. Data from Sport England values the UK sports industry at more than £20 billion, and recent research from Two Circles suggests that millennials are driving record levels of attendance, with ticket attendance for live sport in the UK reaching 74.6m in 2018, up from 69.4m in 2016 and 73.8m in 2017. 

The outlook for sports is healthy beyond the UK, as well – AT Kearney estimates that €450 billion is spent annually in the industry globally. For sports clubs and venues to capitalise on this opportunity, they need to provide an experience that meets – or even better, exceeds – fan expectations.

Jason Thomas, CEO of tappit, said, “Our research shows that fans are clearly expecting more from their live sports experience. And while sectors like retail and hospitality are forging ahead with ways to enhance the consumer experience, there’s still more that sports clubs and venues can do. With more and more competition for people’s attention and spend, hopefully this will be the wake-up call that the sports industry needs to ensure fans keep coming back for more.”

Molly joined the editorial team in March 2019. She has several years’ experience working in broadcast and journalism, as well as marketing and PR. Past experience includes working for the BBC and independent publishing houses. If you have a story you think Molly might be interested in, please email: molly@eventindustrynews.com