Cardiff Blues get sporty with iBeacon tech

The Cardiff Blues have installed state-of-the-art iBeacon technology at the BT Sport Arms Park ready for the start of the next rugby season. 

In a bid to offer an overhauled, more innovative fan experience, the rugby team turned to Newport-based solar tech company GCell to supply its network of iBeacons.

These small connected devices are being used to send a Bluetooth signal to the Cardiff Blues app once installed on the smartphones of fans. When they are near a beacon, they receive a notification based on their time and location at the stadium.

Rhys Williams, commercial director and former Wales international at the rugby team, said that as the Blues are an entertainment business, it’s important to offer fans content-rich experiences. And he believes tech can help. 

“Cardiff Blues are in the entertainment business and that not only means good performances on the pitch, but also offering content-rich experiences off the pitch too,” he said. 

“Social media and smartphones have become an increasingly important way to communicate and engage with our fans. Our new match-day app and introduction of iBeacon means we can capitalise on this infrastructure as part of our match-day experience.”

He added: “Like any business we’re interested in better understanding our fans on metrics such as how frequently a fan attends a game. iBeacon and the Cardiff Blues match-day app is the perfect vehicle to measure and reward fans with loyalty.”

The team will be using the network of beacons to deliver welcome messages to fans upon arrival at the stadium, discount coupons for the club store and reminders to vote for man of the match. More functionalities will be added in the near future. 

Barry Jenkins, from GCell, said: “We piloted iBeacon with a small group of Cardiff Blues fans at the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park during the fixture against Newport Gwent Dragons in April. We are delighted that it works well in this arena.”

Beacon technology has been a massive hit in the US, especially in terms of sport, and Jenkins says it’s now time that the UK follows in the footsteps of its close friend. 

He said: “The installation of iBeacon technology has become standard at Major League Baseball (93%) and NFL (75%) stadiums. Teams that have deployed iBeacon and proximity technologies have seen a return on investment (ROI) as big as 40x from incremental merchant revenues alone within one season.”

The Cardiff Blues match-day app can be downloaded free of charge from the Appstore and Google Play.