Executive Huddle fuels Levi’s Stadium as 49ers weigh up new season challenges

Levi’s Stadium has a proud reputation as one of the most technologically advanced venues in the world, and its award-winning Executive Huddle venue management solution is set to aid another innovative venture for the 2020 season of American football league the NFL.

The home of the San Francisco 49ers enhanced its partnership with software corporation SAP back in October 2018 by introducing Executive Huddle. The solution is designed to enhance the in-venue sports and entertainment experience at Levi’s Stadium by providing its business strategy and analytics team with real-time data and visualisations spanning a range of data sources.

The data is used to track, sense and respond in the moment during games to optimise operations on game days and ultimately enhance the fan experience. Executive Huddle last week claimed the Venue Technology prize in the TheStadiumBusiness Awards 2020, and the 49ers are now preparing for its next phase of operations.

Speaking to TheStadiumBusiness.com, the organisation said: “Specifically, before the 2019 season the team redesigned the tool’s data model to be completely integrated across all data sources, helping the 49ers identify reoccurring trends throughout the season. The transition to NFC ‘tap-and-go’ technology for the 2019 season has laid the groundwork for Executive Huddle to have predictive analysis capabilities in the next calendar year.

“This will allow the 49ers to identify ingress trends and help fans get into the building faster and make near-time predictions that directly impact game day operations such as concessions and retail needs for a game based on the parking scan rates three hours before kickoff.”

The technology has already delivered real benefits to the management of Levi’s Stadium. The 49ers said: “As far as quantifiable benefits, a perfect example is when Executive Huddle helped stop stolen tickets from being used.

“When dozens of printed tickets for a visiting NFL opponent were stolen in the days leading up to a 2018 regular season game, the Executive Huddle was used to set up alerts for attempted entries using the stolen ticket. The Huddle automatically identified at which gate the stolen tickets were used, allowing staff to notify security personnel of the location of the persons of interest.

“The 49ers also utilise HappyOrNot Smiley Terminals technology throughout the stadium and integrate the data collected with the Executive Huddle technology to enhance the real-time feedback loop tracking fan experience. When the terminals were first introduced, 49ers fans broke the record for number of responses in a single day, with fans tapping the terminal 18,000 times for a season total of 500,000 responses.”

In October, the 49ers claimed a first for a sports team by announcing they would include food and beverage (F&B) items as a benefit for season ticket holders. The Member Inclusive Menu (MIM) will debut this season and include more than 15 of Levi’s Stadium’s most popular food and non-alcoholic beverage items.

The team is working with hospitality partner Levy and technology and analytics company E15 Group on the menu. The offer will only be made available to season ticket members and their guests, with single-game and secondary market buyers to continue buying food and beverages on an à la carte basis.

Executive Huddle is going to play a key role when the service is introduced, as Moon Javaid, 49ers vice-president of strategy and analytics, explained: “As the Member Inclusive Menu (MIM) will revolutionise the way Food & Beverage is programmed in our stadium, we need to modernise our stadium technology to minimise disruption, making this a frictionless experience for our fans.

“We have had conversations with technology companies, design companies, and sports teams across the world to gather information on the best way to deploy this initiative. In addition to upgrading our point-of-sale system to transform the traditional model of buying food at a stadium, our Executive Huddle platform gives us numerous advantages to monitor real-time game-day performance.

“Through the Executive Huddle, we will integrate real-time inventory levels to proactively identify which stands are low on inventory. Furthermore, we are investing in solution that will leverage AI to understand how our fans queuing behaviour changes with this new initiative.

“Lastly, but also most importantly, we plan to hold workshops first with our internal team and then with our fans to gain their feedback on the MIM redemption methods. Fan feedback is critical for our organisation and their feedback has been critical in driving this initiative forward.”

The NFL is soon expected to finalise its 2020 schedule, with league officials currently assessing how the new season will be impacted by COVID-19. The NFL is reported to be considering multiple options, including delaying its traditional calendar that runs from early September to early February, and playing games behind closed doors.

Regarding how Levi’s Stadium’s status as one of the world’s most technologically advanced venues will help the organisation in adapting to operating in a COVID-19 world, the 49ers said: “The 49ers and Levi’s Stadium have a tech savvy smart phone app that can help fans enjoy games whether or not they are in-venue or watching from home.

“The app puts the game in the palm of your hands with the ability to watch real-time replays, allowing fans to feel more connected to the action. Additionally, when Levi’s does reopen we can take extra precautions by using Executive Huddle’s game day data to decrease foot traffic in congested areas, even out concession lines and see which restrooms are in most need of sanitation.

“Levi’s Stadium was designed with a focus on software rather than hardware, and with the help of corporate partners like Intel, SAP, Citrix, Cisco and Foxconn Industrial Internet, is perfectly positioned to adapt for a post-pandemic sports scene.”

And in the meantime, the 49ers have sought to ensure fans remain entertained during close season amid the lockdown. Meghan Ryan, director of digital and social media marketing, said: “We created a centralised hub, IGYB.

“We built this page as a hub with several resources for fans during COVID-19. We’ve digitised activities and games like colouring pages, video conference backgrounds, wallpapers, trivia, quizzes and partner offers.

“We also have our EDU Playbook, that is usually for field trips at Levi’s Stadium, now available online for parents teaching at home and other ways for people to get involved or who need help. This site also includes weekly recipes from the Levi’s Stadium Levy team, workouts from our 49ers PREP and FIT teams and nutritional information from our team coordinator of nutrition.”

Images: San Francisco 49ers