Contributed by Andrew Duncan, Senior Account Executive at BradyPLUS

With the growing influence of consumer online reviews on platforms such as Google or Yelp, businesses across the country have taken steps to enhance the customer experience and remain successful. 
For a growing number of sports and entertainment venues, today’s measure of success is about creating a positive experience well beyond the main event.  

These days, stadium and arena operators are working to improve everything from customers’ restroom and dining experiences to advancing sustainability and recycling programs to comply with new laws and regulations.  

Adapting to Changing Expectations for Sustainability and Recycling Programs 

Some states, including California, have passed legislation meant to raise the bar for sustainability and recycling programs. For example, California’s recent law SB 1383 requires larger businesses to have a composting program, or they could face fines. 

Implementing a new recycling or composting program can take a significant amount of time and resources for large sports and entertainment venues. For the program to succeed, the facilities need new receptacles, signage, and a comprehensive process.

However, there’s also a big payoff for enhancing sustainability initiatives or implementing an effective recycling program. In addition to remaining compliant with laws, sports and entertainment venues meeting certain sustainability standards can attract popular artists over competing venues. In fact, some artists will only agree to perform at venues that have achieved zero waste or implemented composting programs.

Smart Technology Improves the Restroom Experience

When you think of negative customer reviews at a venue, the restroom experience is one place that comes to mind. A common reason for customer complaints is long lines outside the bathroom as they want to get in and out to enjoy the entertainment. 

Smart restroom technology has greatly improved the customer experience.  As an example, soap dispensers now come equipped with sensors that let the facility care team know when the product is running low.  That means they don’t have to continuously send cleaning staff to check if the dispensers are full, but instead simply refill the soap in a timely fashion once they’re alerted by the sensor.  When dispensers don’t run out of product, the restroom lines move smoother, and fans are happier.

In addition to dispensers, other types of Smart technology enable fans to see how busy a restroom is in real-time with a green or red light, signifying either busy or empty. When fans are equipped with that information, they may decide to wait to use the restroom, which can also reduce the size of the lines.

Another benefit to Smart restroom technology that might surprise you is the cost savings on supplies. If staff know they will receive an alert when dispensers are empty, they won't prematurely discard low-running paper products or soap for fear of running out. These seemingly minor details add to significant supply savings and reduced waste over a year.

Outside the restrooms, some venues have implemented other innovative technology that gives them insight into fan food or entertainment preferences. That includes everything from tracking how loud fans cheer in their seats to frictionless billing.  With frictionless billing, venues can automatically identify and charge a fan for their order through their phone. So, there's no need for a credit card or mobile payment app to purchase food; they simply go to the counter and pick up their order.

Fans Expect High-Quality Food and Fine Dining in Venues

Speaking of food, the in-dining experience at stadiums and arenas has drastically changed over the past few years. 

These days, consumers expect venues to offer much more than hot dogs and pretzels. Fans want variety and higher-quality food, and some people prefer a fine dining experience with TVs where they can watch the event.
As sports and entertainment venues work to implement sustainability practices, some have looked at foodservice disposables as an area for improvement.  It’s now common to see venues with more recyclable or reusable materials, such as cups or plates.

Robotics & AI: The Future of Cleaning at Sports and Entertainment Venues 

So, what’s on the horizon for stadiums and arenas aiming to take their business operations to the next level?  For one, robotic cleaning is already gaining in popularity and is likely the wave of the future. 
Venues increasingly embrace robots to ensure consistency across cleaning operations and enable facility care teams to reallocate labor, creating a cost-effective and reliable solution. Cleaning staff can program a robot to clean a specific area of the stadium or arena, push a few buttons, and then it gets to work.

Final Thoughts

All signs indicate that these new sports and entertainment venue trends are here to stay due to higher consumer expectations and evolving sustainability laws. In fact, there will likely be increasing competition between venues to attract fans by demonstrating why their facility offers the best customer experience. 
The good news is venue operators can be more successful than ever if they take the right steps, whether it’s adding robotic cleaning, implementing sustainable practices and procedures, installing Smart restroom technology, or re-imaging the in-dining experience.

Andrew Duncan is a seasoned professional with 19 years of experience in the jan/san industry and currently serves as a Senior Account Executive at BradyPLUS. Throughout his career, Andrew has consulted with numerous new Stadium and Arena construction projects and continues to work closely with those clients to this day. Andrew’s deep industry expertise and consultative approach have helped identify and deliver innovative solutions for a wide range of clients, including some of the most high-profile sports and entertainment venues in the country.