The importance of embracing fan rituals in the digital transformation
29. March 2023
The supporters and fans are modern tribes, with symbols, rituals, songs and artifacts. Ignoring that in the digital transformation from paper tickets to mobile ticketing, from printed game magazines to online blogs etc. could damage the fans loyalty.
Venue professionals, from the individual event planer to the CEO of the largest sports venues and concert halls in the world, may have compelling arguments for replacing paper tickets with mobile tickets. It would be a mistake in the transformation, not considering the substantial group of end-users, being reluctant to the use of new technology.
Perhaps the most significant barrier to the adoption of mobile tickets, is the nostalgia that many, especially sports fans, associate with the paper ticket. In 2015 the Journal of Consumer Psychology published a study revealing how the purchase process of going to the box office, and holding the psychical ticket, is a crucial part of the pre-game rituals for many sports fans.
“Paper tickets are often seen as a tangible symbol of the event and a keepsake for fans” Dahl et al.*
Switching to mobile ticketing could be a problematic disruption of an important ritual, and rituals are not only important, but they are also powerful. Instead of neglecting them, the rituals should be embraced, not only the process, but in the actual mobile ticket solution. Elevating the importance of the fan’s rituals to the new technological solution, would not only be a way of addressing fan reluctance, but it could also be a way of actually increasing fan devotion. Imagine that a mobile solution supported the organisation of the various fan marches to stadiums?
For better incorporating rituals into mobile ticketing solutions, it is important that we understand what rituals actually do, why they exist and why they are valuable.
In an unpredictable and uncertain reality, repetitive and familiar actions are known to infuse a sense of control, reassuring us that we are okay, the world is okay, and we can relax. Many fans have been following the same team for generations, following the same rituals as they were thought by their dad, going to the box office for picking up tickets for tomorrow’s game, discussing the possible outcome with other fans, exchanging gestures like “Forza Club name” etc.
This cannot be replaced, but using terminology, icons and symbols is the first step. Why name it “ticket shop” at the club’s website, when it would be ritual-inclusive naming it “box office”? Use The same layout, Colours and design for the mobile ticket. Allow for fans to communicate across the The mobile platform, as if they were at the box office.
SPEAK FRIEND AND ENTER
Rituals are also the narrow path to a community, and belonging is essential for all of us. To enter you must speak the proper password, as a symbolic act indicating that you are indeed a friend, that honour the same values, share the same beliefs. You wear the Colours of your team, your tribe, you outer the same almost magical phrases, you do the same dance. In light of this it is a mystery how few mobile ticket club apps, that include photos of the entrance gate at the opening screen, at some stadiums the actual physical entrance often has their own names, or if not, their number over time has been associated with a particular group of the fans, not using these symbols is ignorant, but used prober it builds your fanbase.
Modern time has not changed the use of rituals, au contraire, there are many simple testimonial’s on how real-life rituals goes hand in hand with modern technology and entertainment. Any kid between the age of 9 and 16 knows the Fortnite dance move. At concerts we do not use lighter’s when they play a slow one, we use the smartphone torch. Nostalgia is often associated with old times, but all times are old times, at almost any online gathering, it is documented for how long you have been a member. In online browser games you can show off badges of old achievement’s that has been depreciated, so your status within the community is unique. This could easily be included in a mobile ticketing solution as well.
Dahl, D. W., Moreau, C. P., & Hoegg, J. (2015). Softness is in the eye of the beholder: Applying linguistic context theory to branding. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 25(3), 407-424.
Norman, D. A. (2013). “The design of everyday things.” Basic books.
About the Author
CMO at Venue Manager A/S
BA in Marketing Management
Diploma in Economics
BA in Communication