As sporting and entertainment venues begin to see signs of economic growth after years of decline, a new dilemma is coming to the forefront, brought on by the changing demands of their viewing audience: unoccupied seats.
Why would spectators battle the crowds, traffic, high-priced tickets, parking fees and food expenses when they can watch the game comfortably from their own couch (on their own beautiful flat-screen TV)?
Burdened with unoccupied seats for events which have traditionally been sell-outs, sporting and entertainment venues are looking for ways to combat their financial losses from spectators who have chosen to stay home. One way they are trying to make up for this loss is by increasing per capita guest spending through food sales.
Because sporting and entertainment venues are ultimately trying to stand out as entertainment destinations, they are redesigning – FaceLifting – their spaces and offerings to cater to hungry, thirsty, discerning fans who want a wide range of choices. By aggressively improving their food selections and quality, as well as their graphic displays systems and customer service, they are attempting to further enhance the fan experience and drive profitability.
Perhaps the biggest change can be seen at the concession stands. Gone are the days of plain steel carts peddling hot dogs and sodas. Now, branded concession carts and redesigned in-line locations carry everything from local and regional favorites, to upscale menu options like sushi, stir fry and fish tacos.
And the industry is beginning to see positive results from these “facelifts”; a recent report released by Packaged Facts on Sports & Entertainment Venue Foodservice Trends in the US concluded that foodservice revenue reached almost $9 billion in 2012 – up 5% from 2011.