Legends captures large quantities of customer data from the venues and attractions it manages. How could it harness data to enhance customer experience and increase revenues?
Legends worked with Avnet to implement IBM® Watson Analytics™, a cloud-based analytics solution that helps it quickly and effortlessly identify spending predictors, enhance services and drive revenue.
Cutsthe time spent on data analysis from weeks to minutes
Drivesrevenue by enabling Legends to enhance the visitor experience
Empowersoperational teams to gain insight from data effortlessly
Business challenge story
Generating a mass of disparate data
As fans and visitors pass through the entrances, gift shops, cafés, bars and concession stands of sports venues and tourist attractions, they are constantly generating data. Increasingly, venue operators are finding ways to capture this data, but most are still struggling to harness it effectively.
Jon DeLord, Director of Insights and Analytics at Legends, explains: “Think of all the data that is generated by customers at a sporting event, for example. You bought yourself a ticket—that’s a data point. If you buy a hot dog, that’s a data point. If you buy a jersey, that’s another data point.
“All these different data points are generally held in different systems, so the first challenge is centralizing and aggregating that data. And the second challenge is that there’s so much data coming in that it’s difficult to know where to look. I need to be able to mine the data to see what is important and which points are correlated with one another, and then I need to make predictions based on those insights.
“A lot of people in our industry are practical on-the-ground operators—for example running concession stands—or creative types like marketers. Very few people on the operational side are comfortable handling data. So a third challenge is to be able to present data visually in a way that data-averse people can understand, and even get to the stage where they can effortlessly analyze data themselves.
“Ultimately, the biggest challenge for me is harnessing the massive volumes of data we collect so that Legends can provide the best possible experience for our customers. This is what drives our revenue, because happy customers are likely to spend more money at our venues and visit again in the future.”
Harnessing data with Watson Analytics
While working with Legends to build a data warehouse that would enable the company to aggregate and store its data, Avnet suggested IBM Watson Analytics as a solution for advanced statistical data-mining and visualization. Watson Analytics is a smart data discovery service available on the cloud that guides data exploration, automates predictive analytics, and enables users to create dashboards and infographics effortlessly.
“Watson Analytics enables people to take a deep dive into their data, understand correlations and make predictions, and visualize the results easily, even if they have no experience of handling data. That made it a hugely attractive prospect for us,” comments Jon DeLord.
Users can simply type natural-language questions into the Watson Analytics interface, so even those with no knowledge of data-mining language or statistics can gain the insights they need to make confident decisions in minutes.
Jon DeLord comments, “Watson Analytics makes data-mining almost as easy as using a search engine. It gives you the benefits of advanced analytics without the complexity.
“IBM also provided training to help us understand how to utilize both our own data and the Watson Analytics solution more effectively. Most people in our industry don’t have advanced statistical analytics backgrounds, and IBM were phenomenal at explaining in laymen’s terms what they need to look for in data and what the output from Watson Analytics means.
“We have a real partnership. I feel like I can call the IBM team any time to ask if there are certain things in Watson Analytics we can add or improve on; or they might call me and ask me to test out certain new features for them. It is a true business friendship.”
Enhancing the customer experience
Legends is already reaping the benefits of IBM Watson Analytics, as Jon DeLord explains: “People can upload data-sets that would normally make their heads spin and quickly answer questions such as ‘Can I predict how many hot dogs I am going to sell at this venue based off of the attendance for this home team?’ It would be impossible for me alone to analyze data for all of our venues, so empowering operators on the ground to answer their own questions is crucial to keep operations running smoothly.”
The solution has already led to organizational improvements within Legends—for example, helping to define clear strategies for achieving key performance indicators (KPIs).
Jon DeLord elucidates: “One of our industry-wide KPIs relates to per-capita spending within a stadium or a venue, and we were struggling to figure out what truly drives it. Is it weather? Is it the number of registers that you have open at a particular stand? Is it the team that’s playing? We knew that all of these things drive customer spending, but we didn’t by how much or in what way.
“Using Watson Analytics, we were able to identify several factors that really drove per-capita spending, and that we could affect from an operational standpoint. Driving spending in turn drives net revenue, which makes our venue owners happy. It also makes the fans happy, because if they are spending more, it indicates that we are providing them with products and services that they actually want.
“What’s more, gaining a better understanding of fans’ needs and behavior through analytics allows us to enhance the whole customer experience. We are providing the food and merchandise that customers want, and we are getting it to them much more quickly so that they can go back to enjoying the main attraction.”
In the past, Legends’ venues were generating and gathering so much data that identifying genuinely useful insights was difficult and time-consuming.
“Making sense of a vast mass of data can be overwhelming,” notes Jon DeLord. “When you mine data by hand, you often spend two, three, four weeks going down a certain path before realizing that it leads to a dead end and you have wasted that time.
“With Watson Analytics, we can upload all that data and it does the data-mining for us, suggesting paths we might be interested in exploring that already have some sort of statistical significance. This avoids a lot of guesswork and wasted time that can now be spent on useful analysis.”
Legends is also able to save time and money by pinpointing the reasons why customers behave a certain way, as Jon DeLord explains: “Before Watson Analytics, we often didn’t know how best to address problems. For example, if a concession stand wasn’t performing well for some reason, we might change its entire concept—say from a nacho stand to a gourmet burger stand—which involved a lot of time and capital.
“Now we are able to use Watson Analytics to find the real root causes: we might realize that the stand isn’t performing because we don’t have enough cash registers there, or the team there isn’t quite large enough to cope with the demand. The cost of adding a cash register or an extra person to that stand versus completely transforming the stand has saved us thousands of dollars in capital expense.”
He concludes: “Watson Analytics empowers all types of people within Legends to harness data more effectively than ever before, because it’s so quick and easy to use. With the insights we’ve gained, we are enhancing our customers’ experiences, saving time and money, and hitting our KPIs, driving revenues across the board.”
About Legends Hospitality
Owned by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees, Legends offers services in market feasibility, hospitality, ticket sales, marketing, merchandising sales, catering, and consulting. It was founded in 2008 and employs around 3,000 people. Its partners include leading sports organizations such as the NFL and the Los Angeles Angels.
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