Any experienced events manager knows that the event’s result can only matter so much. How your guests experience it goes a long way toward their satisfaction, and that matters more. The sports team they’re cheering for might win, but that win only matters if they can enjoy it safely, with their needs taken care of and without worries. That fundamental truth is what makes guest and fan experience such an important consideration in modern events management. Modern sporting venues, athletic competitions, and other events-based efforts require significant amounts of planning to ensure a successful event, and the audience always has to remain at the center of attention in these efforts. This is when tools like an interactive college map can help.

Done right, the fan experience elevates not just the event itself but also the brand attached to it. For example, a successful collegiate sporting event can do wonders to the reputation of the campus and university to which it’s connected. But getting there takes effort and an effective guest experience strategy.

That’s where interactive maps can enter the equation. Done right, they play a vital role in helping your fans and guests not just get around but also better enjoy their time at the venue. More specifically, interactive maps can improve the guest and fan experience in these five ways.

1. Simplify Parking and Transportation

Crowded but well-organized parking lot managed by an interactive college map

Large events naturally introduce transportation bottlenecks and confusion. After all, there is only so much space for guests to park while still being close enough to the venue in question. Guests know that, which is why parking is among the biggest stress factors when attending any kind of sporting event.

That problem only becomes more significant when talking about collegiate athletics, which takes place in the larger context of a college campus. For example, parking can become more difficult, while public transportation may not be as readily available. Venue managers and athletic directors who don’t consider these potential complications risk souring the guest experience before the game even kicks off.

Interactive maps can help. Most importantly, they simplify the pre-game day planning for guests who can easily learn about the right spots to park and find the best route to get there. A comprehensive map can also include transportation and shuttle options for fans who prefer to park outside of campus to avoid the bottlenecks that tend to form around major campus roadways.

But you can also go further than that. As Chris Ferris, Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director at Colorado State University, describes:

We’ve developed a really comprehensive, entire game-day experience that is not only parking and transportation but — four hours prior to game — where our team will arrive, how they will enter the stadium, where the marching band will play pre-game and how they will navigate throughout the parking lot.

Deployed correctly, that information can be hugely beneficial for guests who are just arriving. They’ll know:

  • Exactly what areas to avoid
  • Where to meet up with the team
  • How to catch important events like the marching band performance

2. Create a Basic Overview of Venue Hotspots

Once guests arrive, the wayfinding needs and opportunities don’t stop. They’re just getting started. After all, wayfinding consistently ranks among the top needs for an optimized fan experience across sporting events and experiences. 

Your interactive college map can provide specific opportunities to highlight the areas visitors might most commonly need to know about. That includes:

  • The student and fan tailgating zone before the game begins
  • Tailgating opportunities for season ticket holders
  • Single game tailgating options for one-time visitors
  • Directions to individual seating sections, the on-site box office, and merchandise stands
  • Team-specific opportunities like a wall of fame or display of historic accomplishments

Of course, those aren’t the only opportunities. In describing his map, Ferris also goes further, explaining how it shows the spots where the alumni association will engage alums and their membership, as well as the areas where the athletic department will host events for premium seat holders. If there’s a hotspot to be found, your interactive college map can highlight it.

In fact, the opportunities to highlight these areas are quite significant if the map includes the opportunity to include a specific layer for sporting event hot spots. Now, all tailgating areas can easily be marked as a category with a single click. This simplifies the experience to help guests and fans find precisely what they’re looking for at a moment’s notice.

3. Avoid Any Navigational Confusion

As fans and other guests begin to enjoy their sporting event, they still need to figure out exactly where to get to the spots they want to go to. That starts with their specific seating but also extends to restrooms, refreshments, and more.

Your interactive venue map can help when deployed the right way. Built right, it doesn’t just show where those areas are; it also provides walking directions to get there. Now, all that’s left is promoting the map to make it as easy as possible for guests to find their way around the venue.

Of course, the virtual map doesn’t need to exist in isolation, either — quite the opposite. Strategic placement of QR codes on physical signage allows any guest to take out their mobile device. They no longer have to rely on signage that can be easy to miss when things get busy.

While these types of directional basics matter throughout the sporting event, they become especially relevant as it nears its conclusion. Every event manager knows the frustration and challenges with bottlenecks as thousands of fans try to leave at once. Communicating where to go ahead of time and in a more straightforward way can significantly reduce the chances of those bottlenecks appearing at the end of games.

4. Integrate the Larger Surroundings

Of course, the event experience doesn’t nearly always end with the venue in question. Before and after the game, guests could:

  • Explore the area around the stadium
  • Check out the campus and other areas to find food, or
  • Simply soak in the college atmosphere

Even when they don’t, they might want to learn more about what’s going on at the university that day.

The interactive map, especially when already used for more straightforward wayfinding, is a perfect opportunity to present a broader overview of the surroundings. Everyone who uses it now has a chance to learn more about what’s happening on campus that day. Or, as Ferris puts it, the map can:

…Provide new and unique opportunities to people that maybe didn’t know things like that were happening, not only within athletics on game day, but across the entire campus. What’s going on at the business school on game day? What’s going on with vet-med, on game day? …student affairs has an unbelievable plan for student engagement on game day and it’s going to be fabulous.

As Ferris alludes to, partnerships across campus become especially relevant here. The more people who are involved in the content, the more broadly the map can be applied to larger organizational initiatives and events.

5. Focus on Core Brand Messaging

Beyond the broadening of any communications surrounding events and campus, the interactive college map can also become a strategic communications tool that isn’t bound to any buildings or physical areas. Done right, it becomes a core tool to communicate brand messaging, pillars, and priorities to every guest and fan who arrives on campus for game day.

Ferris explains how CSU applies this more philosophical concept to its own athletics-based interactive map:

This [interactive campus map] enables alums to know what advantages our students have today. [It allows] our stakeholders and sponsors and partners to understand what students and alums have an opportunity to do.

Of course, that’s only one of the many possibilities. For example, suppose sustainability is a major emphasis in brand messaging. In that case, the map can show the LEED certification status of individual buildings; it can also highlight specific efforts towards achieving those goals on campus. A new science building designed to signify a shift towards offering STEM programs can be shown in its current construction phase and renderings of how it will look in the future.

And that’s just the beginning. Any brand pillar can be expressed in physical form on the map, from highlighting the financial aid and student services offices as part of an emphasis on sustainability to showcasing a new art display that signifies the university’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. The goal: create a comprehensive picture of the university that everyone in attendance can take away, even if they’re only looking at it via the map on their phone screen.

Create a Better Fan Experience Through Your Interactive College Map

As these examples show, an interactive college map becomes a multifunctional tool that can simultaneously address multiple levels of need when strategically approached. It can take care of basic wayfinding needs before, during, and after the event. An interactive college map can also create more strategic messaging opportunities. The result is a comprehensive, immersive experience for guests as they cheer on their favorite team.

To achieve that goal, the right tool becomes an essential component. That’s where Concept3D comes in, with a comprehensive platform and plenty of experience in the higher education and athletics space. Contact us to learn more about our interactive map solution and how we’ve helped schools like yours transform their fan and guest experience.