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John Brasch, general manager – Quest Division, NCR Corporation, discusses how customer service in stadia is improving, why acquisition has been a positive thing, and how loyalty is paying off for Tampa Bay Lightning fans
What services does your company offer to the industry?
NCR offers multiple solutions to drive the fan experience inside and outside the stadium. Quest Venue Manager (QVM) enhances speed of service and therefore per-cap spend through a full portfolio of food service point-of-sale solutions including concessions, suites, restaurants and premium bars, in-seat service, vending, inventory, back-office and third-party standardised integration. Our suite of marketing solutions, APTRA, allows venues to better understand the behaviour and spending of their customers, and develop targeted campaigns through diverse channels (email, phone, etc) that result in stronger response and loyalty. APTRA solutions can use a venue’s CRM data in addition to detailed data gathered through QVM’s loyalty solutions.
Could you tell us an interesting fact about your company?
Quest was acquired by Radiant Systems in 2008, and Radiant Systems was acquired by NCR in 2011. Through this evolution, Quest Venue Manager (QVM) – the flagship product of Quest – has grown and benefited through the people and tools of each of these organisations. Quest solutions were designed specifically for event management – and no other industry. Today, the company serves customers in countries across three continents.
What trends do you see emerging in your particular sector of the stadium industry?
Speed of service will always be a priority and an important driver to stadia everywhere. Any solution that can help the fan get what they are looking for – and then return to the event – will be valuable to its management. Today more than ever, operators are looking to improve the fan experience by better understanding the fan. Everything from their movement (when they get there, when they buy, and how long they stay) to their buying habits (popcorn or pretzel, shirt or foam finger) will help operators cater to the fan’s preferences, both in stadium services and targeted campaigns. At NCR, we are happy to offer solutions that can help operators accomplish these objectives.
Can you tell us about a recent success story for your company?
In support of The Tampa Bay Lightning, we helped deliver a loyalty solution that allows their season ticket holders to obtain special pricing at various points of sale just by wearing their hockey jersey. The jersey is fitted with a small RFID chip, which the Quest point of sale uses to identify the customer and issue discounts accordingly. From this, The Lightning are also able to gather important information about their customers and leverage this information for future campaigns. The results have been fantastic. Most importantly, loyalty is on the rise, with The Lightning team enjoying a ‘sea of blue’ in the stands from their season ticket holders!
What are the biggest challenges you’re facing in your particular sector of the industry – and how are you overcoming them?
Stadium development is still active, but at a slower pace than it was in years past. As a result, it’s important for us to continue the effort of ‘innovative disruption’ by offering new solutions to our customers to evaluate in their environments.
One key focus we have is communicating the flexibility of deployment options for QVM. This gives our customers options for how they deploy the solution (in stadium, out of stadium) and also allows them to evaluate in greater detail how Quest’s scalability brings value to both small and large stadiums.
Another key area of development is international markets. NCR’s global footprint allows us to identify and track opportunities in growing markets around the world. This growth can only help the QVM solution overall, with stronger functionality available to everyone.
What new technologies or strategies have you used in any recent projects?
In the middle of 2011, we released our new-generation point of sale, the Diversus, which offers our proven membrane functionality in addition to a 7in, full-colour touch-screen to create an even easier user experience and quicker customer throughput. The Diversus also offers many technical updates designed to leverage external innovations being introduced all the time. In early 2012, the Diversus Air will launch, offering remote capabilities that make it ideal for many different stadium challenges. The Diversus Air will be available with integrated 2D scanner and printers to reduce the need for peripheral devices, and of course wireless capability. It will also offer extended battery power.
What’s your favourite stadium/sports venue and why?
Whether we are at Yankee Stadium in New York City (pictured top) or The Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC) in Minnesota, we get the opportunity to experience an exceptional level of pride from our assistance in their property operations and learn something new about taking care of the customer every day. It is truly humbling to watch the creativity in how our customers take care of their patrons.
There is no favourite, but if we had to choose where to be in January, we’d probably choose the Cowboys Stadium over our friends up in Minnesota (but we’ll go back up in the summer!)
Where do you see the stadium market in 10 years’ time?
Like every retail industry, the stadium market will continue to work aggressively to discover different ways to improve the customer experience. This will undoubtedly include more services, more conveniences and stronger relationships. Technology – and the advances that each of us as end-users are pushing every day – will help deliver these currently undiscovered ideas.
NCR Corporation will be exhibiting at Stadia Design & Technology Expo 2012, 8 -10 May 2012. Visit the company at Booth 1038