Right after you toss a few coins in at the tollbooth and the light turns green, your phone jumps into action. Might as well be an official’s whistle declaring football season is finally here.
Welcome to Sun Life Stadium, a voice says, with a video prepping you for the day to come. Your favorite parking lot already full? Don’t worry. You are directed to one around the block that’s half-empty.
While you grill up dogs and chase them down with a few cold ones, you check the Dolphins roster — or perhaps sneak a peek at their cheerleaders if no one’s watching.
Rainclouds on the horizon? Fear not. Should severe weather threaten, you’ll be warned. Need an extra ticket? With just a few finger taps, you’ve got another one in the same section.
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Customer service was never so easy — at least that’s the hope. The Dolphins have spend the past nine months and a sizable sum to revamp their smartphone app.
They’ll find out for sure starting Sunday, when their revamped smartphone app gets its first wide-scale test run. The app, built by the development firm eMbience and free of charge on both Google Play and iTunes, should be ready for download this weekend. And while not yet a finished product, version 1.0 has some impressive features.
Real-time game stats. Your seat number — and an interactive map of the stadium to get you there. Player features and game previews that appear on the team website. A list of exclusive events for season-ticket holders.
And that’s just the beta version. In the not-so-distant future, those who want to go completely ticketless and cashless will be able to do so.
“Membership is about more than tickets,” said Jeremy Walls, the team’s chief revenue officer. “It’s about 12-month engagement with our fans, providing them events and discounts throughout the year. The app is the next level of their engagement with the Dolphins, providing them with the best experience possible, not only at the game, but throughout the year. And giving them the best content and ease of experience at the stadium.”
Mobile apps are nothing new for NFL teams: Every franchise in the AFC East has one. What the Dolphins believe sets them apart is the next-level usability — particularly when the app is fully up to speed.
Anybody can put a player bio on an app. But how about a bio that has feature stories, video interviews and up-to-the minute stats?
“We want to be relevant, so you’re experiencing content that is relevant to you,” said chief technology officer Tery Howard.
And it’s just the beginning. The Dolphins promise much more as the renovations to Sun Life Stadium unfold over the next two years.
An example: Anyone ever stuck at the back of an endless beer line has been tormented by fantasies of no-wait concessions on the other side of the stadium.
By the end of the season, you’ll actually be able to know. Game-goers will receive location-based notifications on food vendor lines and a menu of concession options near you.
By 2015, season-ticket holders will also have the option of using their phones as a membership card and a virtual wallet. A simple swipe will get you into the game and pay for your food and drink.
These options are all part of CEO Tom Garfinkel’s vision to not tell his customers what they should want, but ask them. He recently upgraded the food selection at Sun Life, bringing in local vendors that were recommended by fans. The app also will have comprehensive surveys with real-time feedback on customer service.
Worried about getting bombarded with emails from the Dolphins’ corporate partners? Howard said personal information the Dolphins gather through the app will not be shared.
“We take privacy very seriously,” she said.