Friday, 17 July 2009

10 Top Tips for Selecting Implementing and Operating a Cashless Sports Venue


10 Top Tips for Selecting Implementing and Operating a Cashless Sports Venue

1. Identify the Strategic Requirements
First identify the main objective of a cashless solution. Is the aim is primarily to reduce costs and not to develop a cashless relationship directly with the customer, or is it to deepen the direct relationship with the customer, control the funds and develop revenue generating opportunities? This forms basis for the type of cashless scheme required i.e. club controlled, fully outsourced or a hybrid where the club controls the scheme but a third party undertakes day to day operations.

2. Data Requirements
What are the transactional data requirement? This refers to the legal and financial reporting requirements and operational data requirements enabling efficient day to day running of the scheme. Moreover in terms of marketing with use of the transactional a top down approach is required. What promotions and are aspired to, and what specific transactional data will be needed to deliver them?

3. Integrate with CRM
There is a vast amount of data to be collected during a cashless transaction, and automatically feeding that through to a CRM system real time is essential if the full marketing benefits are to be realised. This should be one of the primary considerations or even a “must have” requirement. Simply building an interface from the cashless solution to the CRM system that updates in a overnight data transfer is not enough, the interface must be real time.

4. Card Supply
If the card will have MasterCard / Visa or similar facility then the card supply will be dictated by the issuing bank. If the cards are supplied by another service provider like loyalty or access control, it is important to ensure that third parties have permissions to add other applications such as cashless, loyalty, access control, ticketing, Healthy Schools and local transport. Some system suppliers insist on supplying cards and keep it locked down. This leave little opportunity for reducing card supply costs and also restricts that card to just one application and counter to aspirations of one card many uses. Look for an independent card supplier and solution providers that will work on that basis.
5. Card Technology
The technology chosen will be heavily influenced by the strategic requirements. There are several variables when it comes to selecting the card technology memory or microprocessor, contact or contactless Mifare, Desfire, JCOP Calypso or another platform. Ultimately thought if the right long term vision is held by the club they will need interoperability so that in future supporters in the visitors section can use their own clubs card just as home supporters do elsewhere in the stadia. The data from those transactions could be supplied to the visiting club and used for promotions on that teams next visit.

6. Breakage Rules
This could make or break a scheme. Breakage such as fees for lost / stolen/damaged cards or dormant accounts with residual balances provide significant revenue opportunities. However if the customers feel they are being exploited, it will be a massive disincentive to them. It will be a very fine balance between generating revenue, delivering a high quality customer experience and running an efficient and effective cashless scheme. There is a special formula to ensure the right balance is achieved, which will need to be harmonised with the clubs specific strategic requirements.

7. Implementation Approach
How a cashless scheme is implemented have a significant impact on the level of take-up and thus how successful it is perceived. The “Big Bang” approach of implementing 100 percent cashless in home areas is certainly one approach but requires exceptional communication with customers months in advance and will also require high levels of operational support for the first 5 or 6 home matches. A phased implementation is operationally the safer approach but does mean that the associated benefits are only partly realised until full roll-out is achieved.

8. Customer Experience
It is imperative for the success of the cashless scheme that the customer values it and feels valued by the club otherwise they will simply spend elsewhere before the game. To deliver a richer experience to their customer clubs should consider issuing a single card that allows the customer to enter the ground, make payments, gain access to all appropriate areas i.e. hotel room, box, hospitality areas etc. uploading funds must be easy, convenient and offer many channels such as web, direct debit, SMS etc is recommended.

9. Legal and Regulations
If a fully outsourced scheme is implemented the service provider is responsible for ensuring that their service adheres to all applicable laws and regulations but clubs should get confirmation of this. In the UK the are a number of regulations that need to be considered for clubs that plan to operate or control the cashless scheme themselves including the SeMIC, the Payment Services Regulations 2009 and the up coming e-Money Directive in April 2011.

10. Partners
There are a number of suppliers of cashless solutions all of which offer the basic function of prepaid debit facility. Not many of those suppliers have implemented in stadia environment. Even fewer have first hand knowledge of implementing a club controlled cashless scheme that fully integrates with all the other systems. So consider appointing a project manager or external consultant with relevant experience to liaise with each supplier to ensure all the strategic objectives are achieved.

By Steve Beecroft

For more information on implementing a cashless solution in your venue call Smart Stadia on 0208 123 0188 or email info@smartstadia.com

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