German Bundesliga football club VfL Wolfsburg has rolled out an innovative new service for the hospitality areas of its Volkswagen Arena, and is already fielding inquiries from other sports teams interested in its technology.

VfL CONNECT has been dubbed a unique solution combining a VIP service app including ticketing functions. The project commenced in mid-January and has been conceived and designed by Wolfsburg, before being implemented and developed by COMbridge IT Consulting.

The first live test of the system was conducted on the opening home matchday of the 2021-22 season on August 14, and with Volkswagen Arena granted approval to return to full capacity for the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19 when SC Freiburg visited on Saturday, VfL CONNECT has now swung fully into action.

Available on iOS (Apple) and Android (Google) devices, the app has been designed to meet the customer needs of sponsors, partners and guests throughout all phases of a matchday visit in the hospitality area of Volkswagen Arena.

“Behind the development of VfL CONNECT lies both a business case and the desire to improve our self-image through optimal customer service,” Eike Humpert, leader of digitalisation at VfL Wolfsburg, told TheStadiumBusiness.com.

“With the app and the new process for VIP tickets, we save significant costs in ticket production as well as a lot of effort when sending the tickets. This means that the costs for the app will pay off in a few years and we have also created an optimal communication tool between the club and VIP customers.

“Furthermore, the service quality will be improved significantly through an easier ticket administration and a quick and flawless process on matchdays.”

The core functions of the app are to provide digital VIP ticketing, digital and on-site networking, COVID-19 tracing, a seating tool for hostesses, wallet tool for VIP tickets and parking tickets, along with general gameday information.

The app has been designed to be as uncomplicated and comfortable as possible for the user in order to create a unique matchday experience. As the first club in the Bundesliga to undertake such a venture, VfL has been able to digitalise several areas of the matchday organisation through the app and to cover multiple features in one application. This way the user can receive all necessary information 48 hours ahead of a home match, at one glance.

In the ‘Tickets’ tab, users have an overview of the status of their VIP and parking tickets for the respective matchdays. Furthermore, ticket owners can invite guests quickly, claim tickets themselves, or request more tickets.

The networking function offers Wolfsburg’s commercial partners a digital business directory, providing an additional networking option. Meanwhile, the integrated seating tool enables hostesses to guide partners and guests to their tables with their tablet or mobile phone. The tool also aids on-site networking.

Wolfsburg also believes VfL CONNECT will provide another key tool for the club in the COVID-19 era. The option to digitally personalise VIP tickets has been integrated in the process of the app’s development.

Users are asked to provide the necessary data for potential contact tracing. The information is saved in a separate, and encrypted, database. It is also possible to identify who sat at a table with a COVID-positive guest through the seating tool.

This data can be deleted in a timely manner according to legal regulations, while the ticket personalisation and the contact data acquisition can be deactivated with one click in the backend of the application.

Wolfsburg feels VfL CONNECT will aid its ‘race to zero’ as it is a greener solution with no plastic or paper tickets required. With regards the future for the platform, and the team that has created it, Humpert said: “We have already planned further functions for the app.

“We aim to release the second version within the next year. The focus will be to improve networking and communication functions even further. That’s why the team will continue to work together on the app for a while.”

And VfL CONNECT could yet turn into a wider monetising source for the club, according to Humpert. He added: “We have already received loose inquiries from other sports clubs and are now examining the options with our development partner.”

Images: VfL Wolfsburg