LiveStyled’s recent rebranding as Realife Tech has coincided with the company’s repositioning in the smart stadium sector, with the roll-out of their new COVID Safety Hub to help bring fans back to stadiums safely and growth in North America among the targets in the coming months. TheStadiumBusiness.com caught up with Harry Samuel, Realife Tech’s Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer, to find out more ahead of the company’s appearance at TheStadiumBusiness Summit 2020 in September.
The increasing drive by stadia to offer a “destination experience” has underpinned the rebranding of LiveStyled to Realife Tech, with the smart platform provider braced for significant expansion in the coming months.
Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer Harry Samuel (pictured) told TheStadiumBusiness.com that the company has repositioned to reflect an “expanded vision of the business to create a better experience of the real world for every person”.
He added: “We’re in an incredibly fast moving and evolving situation with the issues COVID-19 has bought to the industry. We’re looking to help sports teams and stadiums bring back fans as safely as possible with our COVID Safety Hub technology.”
“In more ‘normal’ times, we’ve seen live events and venues are increasingly converging with other areas of leisure and retail. Lots of destinations are looking to introduce different experiences into their environment. Retail is no longer enough on its own to draw people in and, although live experiences can be enough, there is increasing competition from home-based entertainment.”
Whilst the recently rebranded Realife Tech has clients worldwide, North America is viewed as a key growth market.
Samuel believes that Realife Tech has “planted a flag” in North America with its recently completed work at Dignity Health Sports Park, the home of Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy, and with further projects at other venues including Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there is a “steep growth trajectory in that market”.
The company links disparate venue systems to its platform in order to analyse data and understand visitors’ behaviours. It then automates content and messaging via mobile applications and websites. The technology has been deployed in end-to-end projects at facilities in Europe, including the benchmark-setting Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
However, in North America, where tech-savvy sports franchises tend to have such structures in place already, the system can be plugged in easily.
“We’re already leading as a business in Europe, but a lot of European venues and clubs aren’t yet ready to make the sort of change required,” Samuel said. “The North American market is more mature. Obviously, there is the challenge there of facing incumbent competition, but North American franchises already have technologies and teams in place, as well as data. In Europe, you tend to have to convince them in the first place that the platform is a good idea.”
This disparity is partly due to the actions, or inactions, of the fans themselves in relation to the sporting action.
“A lot of it comes down to the nature of the sport itself,” Samuel added. “With baseball and American football, you’re there all day as a fan. If fans aren’t comfortable, they won’t tolerate it. But with football and rugby in Europe, where it’s just 45- or 40-minute bursts of action with a short interval, people are focused on the action.
“However, European clients of ours do see the importance of it and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has shown that fans will arrive two hours before a game and stay afterwards if you personalise the offering and make it an enjoyable environment.”
According to Samuel, the definition of “personalisation” is often confused with mere segmentation in the context of connecting with the customer.
“It’s about not just understanding who the person is, but also their context, or as we call it, their ’reality’,” he added. “Segmentation is not true personalisation. You might be able to adopt a relatively targeted approach, but true personalisation is about understanding the fan’s ‘reality’ and what defines it. You have to tap into their mindset and emotional state to understand what is motivating them and the best way of communicating with them, whether it is via an email, a text message or a digital surface they encounter in a venue.”
The platform brings together various functionalities and data points for ticketing, points of sale, Wi-Fi and access controls.
“Unless these specific systems talk to each other, it is difficult to come up with something coherent,” said Samuel, who added that the systems can be applicable – and affordable – for clubs of different sizes.
The company operates a licence-based model based on the annual attendance of a stadium, starting at £1,000 per month with transaction fees or £2,000 per month without such usage fees. A positive return on investment is usually achieved within six to 12 months, with clients who have not opted for the cheaper fee-per-transaction route taking longer to break-even but then generating higher revenues in the medium to long term.
Samuel said that the company initially carried out a lot of “heavy lifting” – even paying for Wi-Fi to be installed at some lower-league sports clubs – in order to prove the value of the system. Having provided such evidence, though, the business has moved away from that launch model to “charging sensible prices for services”.
The company has doubled its headcount to about 50 in the past year, with plans to expand to 80 over the next 12 months, with a special focus on hiring data scientists who can help to expand the range of algorithms and machine-learning opportunities via the platform.
Enhancing the platform’s dashboards and visualisation capabilities – to allow venue operators to evaluate the effectiveness of campaigns in real time – is also on the agenda.
“It has been challenging and rewarding building our team as it has been a real sea-change in the way we need to work,” Samuel added. “We have got momentum and a really strong team in place.”
Click here to find out more about TheStadiumBusiness Summit 2020, which will return to Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester, UK from September 28-30.