Bath Rugby is one of the oldest rugby clubs in existence. Founded in 1865, and originally branded as ‘something to do in the winter’, it now boasts a cup-winning team riding high in the Aviva Premiership. It is also a club on the verge of change, gearing up for the construction of a new stadium and eager to improve supporter match-day experiences in this digital age.
Bath is an unusual stadium in its geographical and physical constraints. The popularity of the team regularly sees it bursting at the seams with supporters and it can be a tight squeeze to move through the crowd when racing towards the bar at half-time. The bar staff are experienced and able to work quickly, yet waiting times can be significant with hundreds of customers pushing to be served within a short timeframe, either pre-match or at half-time.
While the operations team knew it couldn’t change the physical structure of its stadium, it could adapt operations to reduce the queues causing bottlenecks and poor crowd flow. Consequently, when approached by two different pre-ordering technology providers, it saw an opportunity to put its ideas into action, improving the customer experience while increasing long-term revenue potential.
The club was impressed by both of the technology providers it spoke to but chose to partner with Preoday for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was pleased by the option of a white-label solution as well as the platform’s strong back office functionality. Secondly, it liked Preoday’s association with big name companies like Ticketmaster, who the club also work with. Moreover, it was confident in the long-term resilience of the business and ability to scale. With a wide range of clients seeing significant performance improvements as a result of its technology, Bath Rugby felt assured that it was in the best possible hands with Preoday.
After working closely with the team to develop its mobile ordering platform, Bath Rugby began rollout of the service during the club’s 2016/17 season. It started small, promoting the app through social media and then erecting signage within the stadium and at the bars. As supporters began to download the app and place orders, operations were adapted to suit demand. Since then the service has been scaled up and pre-orders now account for 5% of bar revenue.
Since introducing pre-ordering before matches and at half-time, Bath Rugby has seen an increase in the bar’s average transaction value. Via pre-ordering, the average basket size is £13.93 and over 1,500 orders have been placed on the app in the last year. More than 50% of those placing an order have done so more than once.
Noting that refreshment sales for sports matches are often inconsistent and dependant on the weather, kick-off time and day, and general mood of the crowd, Bath Rugby is pleased to see pre-ordering revenue on an upwards trajectory. In the future it hopes to move the percentage of sales from 5% to 20% of total bar revenue.
Customers have had only positive things to say; one fan gave feedback, saying: “It’s so quick and easy, why wouldn’t you use it?”
Alex Cohen, Operations Director at Bath Rugby, believes order-ahead technology in the sports industry is making significant forward strides but comments that the market in the UK will remain different to the USA. There, the nature of matches means in-seat ordering will grow in popularity while the UK will remain attached to click and collect. With improving stadium connectivity he sees the split between customers queuing and those ordering ahead moving towards a 50 / 50 equilibrium.
Bath Rugby itself has plans to develop a new stadium, which will include an improved infrastructure, stronger WiFi and a layout conducive to a better crowd flow. When this happens the operations team has ambitious plans to ramp up its digital offering, driving digital pre-orders, and other technological advances, forward.
In their own words
“We are aware that our current infrastructure means there are limited actions we can take to physically change the length of queues at the stadium, however pre-ordering has already proved that a simple change in operations can have a significant impact. While the normal queue might be 30 people deep, our click and collect queue rarely has more than five people in it, and that’s because of the speed of the service. We believe strongly in the potential of the Preoday platform and have been spurred forward by the excellent feedback we’ve had from the supporters making use of it week after week.” – Alex Cohen, Operations Director at Bath Rugby