Sitting in the stands at a Major League Baseball (MLB) game is an experience that involves much more than just watching the game—like answering trivia questions displayed on the Jumbotron and singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch. And, of course, there’s plenty for your taste buds to take in as well, from hot dogs to nachos to ice-cold beverages.
At Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, deciding what to eat at the game can be downright excruciating—there’s so much deliciousness to choose from! Street-style tacos. Dungeness crab sandwiches. Poke bowls. There’s also the longtime fan favorite—Gilroy Garlic Fries—and their tantalizing fragrance that wafts throughout the stadium. And for dessert, how about a Ghirardelli World Famous Hot Fudge Sundae, or…new this year…a crispy mini cornbread “churwaffle”?
This is only a sampling of the vast menu available at Oracle Park, which truly is a food heaven. And the icing on top of it all for Giants fans is the ability to order food or drinks right from their seats using their smartphones. They can click on the “Food Finder” in the ballpark app to explore their options, and when they decide what they want, they can place an order right there on their mobile device.
No more standing in line to place a walk-up order—although you’re still welcome to do that if you prefer.
Monitoring Fan Favorites to Help Drive In More Revenue
This high-tech approach to concessions isn’t just convenient for ballgame-goers. It provides the San Francisco Giants with valuable data insights about what food and beverages are the most popular with fans and when. Behind the scenes—with help from the Oracle MICROS Simphony Cloud Point of Sale (POS) system—the organization taps into built-in restaurant business analytics and real-time data access to manage the ballpark’s concessions inventory with a high level of precision.
“By innovating the in-stadium experience, the San Francisco Giants, like many MLB teams, are driving the future of fan engagement at games,” says Bill Schlough, team CIO. “Having access to various data sources, including point-of-sale information and fans’ purchasing histories, and then combining that information with machine learning models, helps our organization to better understand our fans. That insight into what they enjoy most allows us to develop offerings that can help us give our fans more of what they want while enabling the Giants to generate more revenue to invest in the team on the field.”
Concessions are a significant part of in-stadium revenue for any MLB team. Two-thirds or more of a facility’s concession revenues come from ballpark staples, like beer and popcorn. The estimated profit margin on the latter, even if it’s just a small container of the popped stuff, can be as much as 87%. So, it’s vital to get the inventory and pricing right so that clubs can score big with in-stadium profitability.
The convenience of mobile ordering during games provides an added sales boost. But so, too, does kiosk positioning. (It’s no accident that Giants fans can order those famous garlic fries from 12 locations throughout the stadium.) Recent research from Oracle found that fans are willing to spend $20 more on concessions during the game if they can cut their wait times for food in half.
And now, with MLB games running about 30 minutes shorter, on average, it’s even more critical to connect fans faster with food and drinks during the game. The Giants have already added a grab-and-go stand, which is seeing an average checkout time of less than 19 seconds—and plans are in the works to add other convenient checkout options at Oracle Park in the future.
Racking Up Home Runs with a Deep Commitment to Sustainable Practices
Digital transformation of sports stadiums, including their concessions operations, can create bottom-line benefits beyond revenue generation that create upside for teams, fans, and even the planet. MLB organizations can use data insights to operate more efficiently and sustainably. That’s exactly what the SF Giants do as part of their commitment to making Oracle Park the “greenest” ballpark in the country.
Working with several partners, the Giants deployed a stellar lineup of energy-saving changes, from installing new fryers that cut gas and cooking oil consumption to introducing compostable carry trays.
An example of that commitment in action involves—you guessed it—those amazing garlic fries. After working with its concessionaire to gauge the energy use at one of the most popular food-ordering spots in the stadium—the Gilroy Garlic Fries stand at the Promenade Level, Section 119—the Giants selected that location to create Oracle Park’s first sustainable concessions stand. Working with several partners, the Giants deployed a stellar lineup of energy-saving changes, from installing new fryers that cut gas and cooking oil consumption to introducing compostable carry trays.
But that’s not all. In addition to a robust (and very hands-on), award-winning recycling program that keeps tons of refuse from being sent to the landfill unnecessarily, the Giants are firmly focused on reducing food waste. Recycling and composting play a big role in that effort. So, too, does effective inventory management informed by data insights delivered via Simphony.
If a promotion is so popular it leads to an out-of-stock item, no problem—it’s automatically reflected on the park’s digital menu boards and mobile devices so fans can pivot to another selection (no doubt, an equally delicious choice). And if surpluses of certain food types arise, the Giants can move fast to offer new, tempting promotions to accelerate sales of those items.¹
For these and other sustainability-focused efforts, including the swift donation of excess edible food to local hunger-fighting organizations after every home game, the Giants have earned many awards. That includes the 2022 Green Glove Award, a prize the MLB presents annually to the club with the highest waste-diversion rate. The Giants achieved a nearly 100% rate on their way to earning the Green Glove Award for the 13th time—more than all other clubs combined since the award was introduced in 2008.
In baseball, a “perfect game” is a game where one or more pitchers complete a minimum of nine innings with no batter from the opposing team reaching any base. For the SF Giants, bringing together a dream team of partners, people, technology, and data to optimize concessions and keep waste from reaching landfills is, in its own way, a perfect game, too.
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