Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena is an internationally renowned venue that showcases world-class events. Located in Downtown Miami, the Arena is home to the mighty Miami HEAT, one of the most successful basketball teams in the NBA. Founded in 1988, the HEAT has won three NBA championships and holds numerous records.
Alongside a full season of games, the AmericanAirlines Arena hosts 80+ non-basketball events each year, including A-list concerts, family shows, national conferences, and more. The Arena has a capacity of 21,000 and hosts approximately 1.5 to 2 million visitors each year.
The Miami HEAT has always been committed to making the AmericanAirlines Arena the premier sports and entertainment venue in South Florida, adding state-of-the-art technology and investing in cutting-edge renovations and additions over its 18-year history.
As part of this commitment, the Miami HEAT wanted to introduce a wide-spread and secure WiFi network to enhance customer experience.
Matthew Jafarian, Vice President of Digital Strategy and Innovation for the Miami HEAT said: “Previously, AmericanAirlines Arena had relied on cellular DAS for wireless connectivity inside the venue. However, with the demand for a more immersive and content-rich experience during live events only increasing, there was an inevitable need for more bandwidth.
“Fans want to see video replays and real time statistics, and they want to be able to share their experiences instantly with friends and family. We needed to introduce a WiFi network that met those expectations.”
Venue-wide WiFi will also make it easier for fans to comply with the HEAT’s decision to only allow digital ticketing for entry to HEAT games. Jafarian added that the new WiFi network will also allow for back-of-house operations (like enabling mobile point-of-sale systems) to run more effectively.
Through installing guest WiFi, the Miami HEAT hoped to not only deliver exceptional and secure WiFi for their fans, but to also collect valuable demographic data on their customers through implementing WiFi analytics.
Implementation of WiFi analytics would allow the Miami HEAT to:
Monitor guest movement throughout the Arena; identifying hot spots and dwell areas
Collate new customer data to add to their existing database
Use the data collected to provide a personalized experience for new and returning customers through tailored marketing communications
Send timely, automatic communications to customers to drive revenue
Provide real-time offers and contextually relevant information to fans, such as game results, queue waiting times and exclusive announcements
Also aware that many guests only visit the Arena once – largely due to tourism and the fact that the Arena hosts more than just NBA games – the Miami HEAT was keen to start collecting as much customer data as possible on that first visit to help them maximize revenue and encourage repeat visits.
With all of this in mind, the Miami HEAT set out to find an analytics solution that would fully integrate with their Aruba WiFi infrastructure.
A quick Google search landed the Miami HEAT on Purple’s website. After an initial discussion, the HEAT felt confident that Purple would help them achieve their businesses requirements. Commenting on the solution, Jafarian said: “Purple ticked a number of boxes for us”.
As a priority, the Miami HEAT wanted a solution that would integrate seamlessly with their new WiFi infrastructure and that would enable them to create custom, fully-branded splash pages; allowing fans to login with ease and enabling the HEAT to promote their App and other Arena offers.
“We’ve had a lot of success with the App, and being able to promote this through Purple has been a great addition”, said Jafarian.
It was also important for the Miami HEAT that the solution was easy to understand and manage. With Purple’s dashboards and reporting, the team can quickly identify key demographics and create tailored customer journeys for those using the WiFi; again enhancing the customer experience.
Following a directive to make the Arena’s network “the best WiFi out there”, in early 2017, the Miami HEAT went through an RFP process that looked at WiFi gear providers. In July 2017, Purple was expertly installed across over 350 access points throughout the AmericanAirlines Arena. Guests can now login into the WiFi throughout the venue via Facebook or a short registration form.
Jafarian said: “Purple has provided a platform that has helped us achieve our goal of elevating the fan experience. Not only do fans have easy access to the WiFi throughout the Arena, but with the customer data we are collecting, we are able to personalize our interaction with new and returning guests and send automatic updates and information based on specific demographic criteria.”
Jafarian continued: “Online ticket sales mean that we don’t have the ability to collect as much data as we’d like on our visitors. Whether that’s through one fan buying multiple tickets, or fans purchasing tickets through third party websites; not to mention ticket resales. We miss out on a lot of data. Through the installation of WiFi analytics, we have been able to start bridging that gap.”
Since the installation in July, the Miami HEAT has seen over 230,000 people connect to the WiFi, with an average of over 28,000 visitors connecting each month. The HEAT has also reported that on average, around 20% of attendees are connecting to the WiFi during an event, whether that’s for an NBA game, concert or other activity. These numbers have “far exceeded our expectations”, said Jafarian.
From the data collected, the Miami HEAT has been able to confirm that 90% of people who come to the Arena are singular visitors. The HEAT are using the data collected on these individuals to try and maximize spend through custom splash pages; offering discounts on various food and beverages and merchandise from The Miami HEAT Store.
Jafarian concludes: “The guest experience has been and remains our primary focus and we feel like we have found an organization with similar values in Purple: Their team has been responsive and collaborative and we look forward to continue working with them.”