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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

GuestAssist links fans with stadium staff via texting

We often hear about the dangers from text messaging during driving, but here's an example of how texting can increase your saftey.

Anyone who's crammed into a major stadium for a concert or sports game knows there's truth to the saying that there's an idiot in every crowd. In fact, at virtually any college or pro football game, you may find hundreds of them, screaming cursewords,smoking, harrassing other fans,throwing food, or just ruining your family's gameday experience.

For years, the only way to deal with these misfits was to squeeze your way  down the aisle to try and find the nearest usher or security guard, but that's not such an easy task when you're  wedged in a 12-inch seat, side-by-side in a section of hundreds of people. It's also a frightening prospect to think that you could be stuck during a medical emergency. The NFL remedied the problem of poor fan behavior by banning any drunks from entering a game. Ten stadiums also added the text service called Guest Assist.

With GuestAssist fans can instantly contact a stadium's staff for security or service via a simple text message code to the stadium's control center, and the response is sent to the source. Fans can also get info about the nearest bathrooms,concession stands, etc, with the service. GuestAssist also provides the stadium's front office with valuable data for reviewing their customer service performance. The press release explains:

Operators receive a visual and audible alert on the arrival of inbound guest requests, and can monitor and respond to text message inquiries from stadium guests. Administrators can view, export and print an archived history of communications with stadium guests and fans for efficient post-event analysis.

The history data would have been priceless at the Philadelphia Eagles' former home, Veterans' Stadium.Thanks to the Eagles' rabid fanbase, it was known as one of the most hostile venues in the NFL and the city  built  a temporary prison within the stadium. The Vet was eventually destroyed in place for Lincoln Financial Field, which was the first stadium to implement Guest Assist.

Other NFL stadiums using GuestAssist include:

  • Cleveland Browns Stadium
  •  Heinz Field- Pittsburgh Steelers
  •  M & T Bank Stadium- Baltimore Ravens
  •  Meadowlands Sports Complex-New York Giants
  •  Gillette Stadium-New England Patriots
  •  McAfee Coliseum-Oakland Raiders
  •  Ford Field-Detroit Lions
  •  FedEx Field-Washington Redskins
  •  The Georgia Dome-Atlanta Falcons

I'd be curious to see the average number of messages that each control center receives during a game, and how much varies by each stadium. Does Philly's control center get an average close to 200 compared to only 50 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough,Mass? I also wonder how each stadium distinguishes between  valid concerns or selfish requests.

We'll see how fast this technology spreads to other stadiums,arenas and entertainment venues around the country.


By Matt O'Hern at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

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