Newcastle United FC victorious with new tech solution

Introducing Newcastle United Football Club

One of the UK’s oldest football clubs dating back to 1892

St James’ Park has a seating capacity of 52,388

Eighth largest football stadium in England

Host to other large events including World Cup Rugby and music concerts

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Sodexo responsible for food and event management service

“Using contactless payment is a great way to reduce queues and improve speed of service and we are seeing a growth in demand for automated payments. For example, almost half of the 12,219 cashless transactions during our three World Rugby Cup fixtures, were contactless.”
Claire Appleby, Commercial Manager, Sodexo

The business challenge

Due to the vast crowds of people attending the events at St James’ Park, Sodexo, Newcastle United’s food and events service provider, needed to be able to respond to customer demand as it occurred.

No live business intelligence showing customer demand hotpots on the ground at peak times

No insight into the behaviours adopted by fans and guests

Wanted to tailor rewards and promotions to customers

“The Zonal team is extremely knowledgeable and is able to serve up solutions that meet our very specific needs.  They are always on hand to offer support and are very much part of our team”
Claire Appleby, Commercial Manager, Sodexo

The solution

The EPoS solution implemented at St James’ Park includes an integrated payment system, with integrated Chip & Pin and contactless functionality as well as a Loyalty system to enable them to understand their customers’ behaviours.

“Zonal’s EPoS technology has revolutionised the service we offer fans and corporate guests, by giving us valuable live data so that we can respond to specific needs as they arise in the ground.  For example, we can move staff around the ground to peak areas and shift stock items, such as hot dogs, if they’re proving more popular on a particular station.”
Claire Appleby, Commercial Manager, Sodexo

Results

Zonal’s technology solution for football stadia has provided Sodexo and Newcastle United Football Club with valuable live data feeds of activity hotpots during events through the EPoS system as well as valuable insight into the preferences and behaviours of fans and event goers through their Loyalty scheme.

Live data feeds from the EPoS system gives them the ability to provide a responsive service for customers
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Integrated chip and pin and contactless payment speeds up service
Ability to tailor customer rewards according to customer preferences and behaviours

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Sports arenas and stadiums need to tech-up!

Sports arenas and stadiums are in an enviable position – week in week out, hundreds and thousands of people gather to cheer on their favourite team or go to a big event.  This captive audience want to make an occasion of it and having a drink and bite to eat is all part and parcel of the experience.

But they don’t want to wait. Recent research conducted by CGA, on behalf of brand design agency Harrison, has revealed that lengthy queues are still a major frustration (38%), with more than two-fifths of customers being dissatisfied with the premium price of food and drink.

This is supported by Zonal’s GO Technology tech tracker that reveals almost half (47%) of the 5,000 UK adults polled still cite speed of service as their biggest frustration when eating and drinking out.  And this is only heightened when you don’t want to miss that all important goal or performance.

Today’s consumers hate to wait and expect to be able to use technology to speed up payment.  Their smartphone has become their order pad and wallet, with 36% (source: Zonal’s GO Technology) of consumers keen to use their mobile device to pre-order and pay for food and drink so they can move on quickly.

With high street brands now embracing such technology, consumers’ expectations for speedy and quality service is only set to rise further.  In the past 12 months, pre-order and pay apps have become mainstream on the high street, yet stadia are languishing in the relegation zone.

It’s not entirely fair to tar everyone with the same brush but overall it does seem like an own goal that is so easy to rectify.

Zonal has been working with a number of stadia including Newcastle United, Trent Bridge and Ageas Bowl, to introduce hospitality-dedicated tech, to deliver a premier experience across multiple outlets within a large venue.  By investing in connected EPoS and supporting technology applications, such as cashless transactions to ordering channels, and from pricing to visibility of stock, these stadiums have improved the speed of service, so more people can be dealt with by the same number of staff in less time.

“The Zonal team is extremely knowledgeable and is able to serve up solutions that meet our very specific needs.  They are always on hand to offer support and are very much part of our team”

Claire Appleby, Commercial Manager, Newcastle United

Most stadiums have embraced the benefits of offering payment solutions that support contactless, in order to drive large volume sales in a short period of time. In today’s connected world, it’s what customers expect, as they wish to ‘wave and pay’ or ‘tap and go’ by using cards or smartphones.  This is supported by figures from UK Finance who last year reported contactless payment card transactions almost doubled to 5.6bn, with nearly two-thirds (63%) of people using contactless and around 3.4m people almost never handling cash.

However, by investing in integrated EPoS technology, such as Zonal, it’s the live data that is proving so helpful in supporting the customer experience.  A great example is Newcastle United FC, which attracts an average weekly gate of 42,000 people, plus hosts other high crowd-pulling events, where Zonal’s EPoS has revolutionised the service they offer fans and corporate guests.  By having access to live data, the hospitality team can respond to specific needs as they arise in the ground, by moving staff around to peak areas and shifting stock items, such as hot dogs, if they’re proving more popular on a particular station.

The reality is, that to avoid an own goal, stadia need to respond to this shift, and respond quickly. For those venues that have already made the change, feedback speaks volumes, with improved customer satisfaction levels and increased sales.

Also, through technology integration, stadiums can connect other platforms such as loyalty programmes giving them powerful insight into customer data, enabling them to operate tailored programmes around preferences, frequency of visits and products purchased.

There is no doubt that if stadia want to be top of the league, they need to invest in the technology that is now so familiar to consumers to not only create memorable experiences but also boost the bottom line through sales and bespoke rewards.  By connecting technology with an improved customer experience, there is no doubt that they will be on to a winner!

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Don’t drop the ball with your quality of service

With sporting venues and stadia bringing in a high footfall of people all thirsty for a good game and great service, it’s crucial that even though you can’t guarantee a win, you can make sure your service comes up triumphs.

For sporting venues such as stadia bringing in tens of thousands of people per week and hosting a number of big events, speed of service is pivotal. The GO Technology report commissioned by Zonal and CGA states 47% of the 5,000 UK adults polled; cite speed of service as their biggest frustration when eating or drinking out. In addition, 36% have said speed is the reason they use mobile devices to pre-order and pay for food and drink.

Ultimately fans want to feel the service is quick and effortless enabling them to focus on the game or performance without fear they might become hurled up in a long queue and miss the action. With this in mind more and more businesses are shifting to technology for not only quicker service but for increased security with real-time awareness of current stock holding and management to maximise revenue opportunities and drive fan engagement.

Zonal’s customer, Claire Appleby, Commercial Manager at Sodexo Newcastle United food and event management service provider said:

“When at a football match or concert, nobody wants to wait for their snacks or drinks”

With a short window for half time, cashless payment is key, with 22% opting for pre-order and online payment during busy trading times or for convenience. Although, many people still opt for cash payments, it’s becoming a lot more common to just tap or swipe and move on. Therefore, having the latest payment system which supports chip and pin and contactless, including Apple pay is integral to assist a large volume of sales in a short period of time .

General Manager of catering at Historic Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club, based at Trent Bridge, Jason Hollingworth said since introducing  Zonal:

“We are advertising the new service and expect that we will very soon be a 50:50 cash / card business, which is great news for everyone, as we can serve more people, quicker.”

Claire Appleby, reinforced the need for a quick and efficient payment system:

“Almost half of the 12,219 cashless transactions during our three World Rugby Cup fixtures, were contactless”

Zonal has become the trusted solution for Trent Bridge, Forest, Newcastle United and many more high footfall venues, specialising in providing tailored systems to fit the exact requirements of the client to provide immediate results so they can deliver a fantastic and speedy service that won’t go flat for their excited fans.  Zonal provides a solution for each step of the eating and drinking journey, enhancing and streamlining the full experience on game day. Find out how we can make your EPoS system a clear winner by viewing our case studies.

Contact us today to find out more.

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Nottingham Forest signs up Zonal to improve fan experience

This is the Nottingham stadium, a Zonal customer

Nottingham Forest FC has teamed up with Zonal Retail Data Systems to install the latest Aztec EPoS software and integrated card payment solution throughout The City Ground.

The club’s fans and visitors will benefit from contactless payment offering a quicker and more efficient service in the 30,445 capacity stadium that has 25 concession/kiosk stands and 5 Hospitality suites.

Nottingham Forest’s Commercial Manager, Mark Bullock, said: “Customer satisfaction, speed of service and connecting with our supporters in-stadia were key considerations when looking for a new technology provider.

“Zonal provides a solution to enable us to provide an enhanced supporter experience from the moment they first step into the stadium.

“With Catering coming in-house this season, it affords the club the flexibility and speed to react to what supporters want on match day. Speed of service, and the lack of flexible payments options were a concern in previous years and the new system facilitates contactless payment meaning supporters can get their hands on refreshments quicker and more efficiently.”

The retrofit of the Zonal Aztec system will take place throughout the course of the 2016/17 season.

“We are delighted to be working with Nottingham Forest on this exciting project that will help the club achieve its goal of delivering an improved customer experience and driving fan loyalty.  Our systems have been built with the customer journey in mind and we are confident that Forest Fans will enjoy the service benefits Aztec brings on match days.”

Stuart McLean, Zonal’s Chief Executive

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