The College Football Hall of Fame is a fan’s dream come true. One of the most technologically advanced museums in the world, the Hall goes far beyond holding an impressive collection of historical artifacts, to truly redefine the future of museums by taking interactive exhibits to new heights.
To see the real heart of American football, skip the professional glitz of Sunday afternoons: “The true landscape of football as a sport is revealed on Friday nights and Saturdays,” says Robert Bready, senior manager for Fan Experience at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame, located near downtown Atlanta.
He has a point. There are 32 professional football teams in the United States, but there are more than 24 times that number of four-year-college football programs — 778 to be exact — and thousands of high school teams. According to Bready: “It’s the world of amateur football that forges direct emotional connections with fans.”
This deep connection explains the success of the Hall of Fame, which receives hundreds of thousands of visits each year. It is not only an homage to the sport, but an interactive museum that delivers a personalized experience according to a fan’s team of choice.
“Here at the Hall of Fame, it’s all about focusing on the fan, and putting them in them center of the experience — immersing them in the action,” says CEO Dennis Adamovich. “We are always bringing you to your team, first and foremost.”
Inside, guests find a football skills challenge, a 45-yard indoor playing field, and a colossal three-story wall showcasing more than 760 college football teams. Each fan has the opportunity to light their school’s helmet on arrival, which offers a special delight to visitors who are fans of divisional schools.
“When someone doesn’t expect us to have their helmet on the wall or to have any content about their team, when they see their helmet light up, that is my favorite thing about working here,” says Bready.
The key to a visitor’s personalized experience is an RFID All-Access badge that is picked up upon arrival to the Hall at the box office. Because all guests must visit the box office, even if they purchased tickets online in advance, “one of the biggest operational challenges is moving visitors through that process quickly to avoid a bottleneck at the box office,” says Bready. To speed the per-transaction time and tackle other ticketing challenges, the Hall of Fame adopted SAP Event Ticketing in early 2017.
“With the implementation of the new system, our ticket agents’ jobs are significantly easier,” he says. “The speed of transaction is so quick without losing any of the critical data.”
And Bready says it’s not just the in-person encounters at the box office that have become smoother. Now the Hall can create ticket discounts and special offers quickly, customize those promotions, and allot them across all their sales channels — all with only one initial setup. And the data from those sales is readily available in one place.
“Regardless of whether we’re selling a ticket in advance, or a promotional ticket to a conference next door, everything needs to go into the same bucket for reporting purposes,” says Bready. “That’s been the biggest advantage with SAP.”
As one of the most technologically advanced museums in the world, the Hall of Fame manages an overwhelming volume of data. To act as an intelligent enterprise, the team decided to take their enterprise resource planning (ERP) to the cloud with SAP Business ByDesign, which gives team members greater flexibility to optimize time and resources in an affordable way.
Having the data easily accessible is also helpful in myriad ways. For example, Hall of Fame managers can quickly see what sorts of promotions are successful, and plan better for the future.
“We want to make sure we’re getting the most out of our resources, especially marketing dollars,” says Bready. “We want to know where to focus our efforts.” And if the Hall of Fame puts a lot of effort into attracting a convention to come to the area, “we want to understand, was it worth it, and should we do it again next year.”
And as Bready puts it, when it comes to college football, the intangibles matter just as much: “It’s all about supporting the school that’s closest to your heart.”
For Division II and Division III teams, playing football isn’t exactly glamorous: “The guys that go play ball are doing it because they love it. And the fans are there for the love of the game.”