Technology Brings Suite Convenience

Incentient’s SmartTouch technology puts an iPad with ordering capabilities in every suite at Quicken Loans Arena

  • by Jessica Boudevin
  • Published: January 17, 2012

What suite customers see when they turn on their iPads at the Q.

Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland is the first to add iPads with food and ticket ordering capabilities to their suites and have already seen double F&B per caps at a holiday concert. Aramark added Incentient’s SmartTouch technology as a value-add for their 92 suites at the end of December.

Tracy Marek, CMO for the National Basketball Association Cleveland Cavaliers, explained, “When a fan arrives and they greet guest services to get suite access, they are handed the iPad right then and there.”

That iPad functions as an electronic ordering systemfor any additional food and beverage suite holders choose to order. Using the iPad, customers also have the capability to order merchandise, look up sports statistics and browse and purchase tickets to upcoming events that are promoted there.

“We have the Cleveland Cavaliers, but we also have an American Hockey League team, so you can keep up to date with the latest stats,” said Marek. “There’s also a very easy way within the system to give any positive or negative feedback.”

The technology debuted to suite holders in October at the annual administration meeting, where they had the opportunity to test the system by ordering a hot fudge sundae directly to their table. There was a soft launch Dec. 16, with SmartTouch live in all 92 suites Dec. 26.

So far, customers have embraced the new technology.

“We had the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Dec. 30 and our event day sales for food and beverage using SmartTouch were around twice as much as the same event last year,” said Kelly Romano, GM for Aramark at Quicken Loans Arena. People ordered double the amount of food and beverage now that they had the convenience of the iPad for additional orders during an event.

Although guests order additional items on the iPad, payment for food, beverage and merch is handled by the suite attendant once the item arrives. Tickets ordered on the iPad are handled by Veritix and payment information is taken immediately via the program.

Food_Service_inside.jpg

Part of the menu, as seen on the iPad.

“About 75 to 80 percent of all food and beverage orders during events are now through the iPad,” Marek added. “Whether those orders would have happened by phone anyway or wouldn’t have happened at all, we don’t know.”

If the Trans-Siberian Orchestra food and beverage per caps are any indication, the Q will see people ordering more now that food is at their fingertips, though the jury is still out.

“We need to have at least 60 days of operation until we can accurately report on the increase that they will experience,” said Patrick Martucci, co-founder and CEO of Incentient, “but all of our clients have reported back to us that the incremental margin we deliver with our products pays for our services within the first week.”

That will vary for venues, which are not open 365 days a year, he added. "We’ll be interested to track how revenue increases occur at the Q.”

Even if it takes longer than a week for the service to pay for itself, Romano said, “it’s not cost-prohibitive.”

“We’re fortunate to have a great partnership with the Cavs and they’re committed to investing in technology, customer service and trying to be cutting edge. SmartTouch technology allows us to do that,”  Romano said. The arena has a five-year contract with Incentient in which Aramark pays a monthly software-use fee.

Costs to implement Incentient’s product vary, but the company always covers the capital expenditure up front for the installations, including all of the investment in hardware and software.

“It all depends how deep and how wide the customer wants to go with functionality,” said Martucci. “At the Q, you can touch the iPad and buy merchandise, buy food, get scores and do so much because it’s a fully-featured, fully-functional, fully-integrated array of services, which would be different from another place that didn’t want all of that additional support.

The monthly costs typically range from $1,500 for a 20-iPad installation with only one application to about $30,000 per month for more refined technology and larger venues. In extreme cases, with hundreds of iPads that have multiple applications, “you’re looking at more than $60,000 a month,” Martucci said, a number most often reserved for resorts and spas. The company offers flexible options to pay more costs up front and a reduced monthly fee, or even to pay nothing up front.

Incentient doesn’t take a percentage of revenue, all of which remains with the client, and their monthly charge includes the iPads, the server, software and 24-hour support.

“In emerging technologies like this, I think it’s really up to us to be brave enough to take the risk and initial investment, and then recoup it over time,” said Martucci. “If we’re not brave enough to take the risk on our own technology, who shall?”

Interviewed for this article: Tracy Marek, (216) 420-2231; Patrick Martucci, (516) 938-2121; Kelly Romano, (216) 420-2659
 

  • by Jessica Boudevin
  • Published: January 17, 2012
event photos