Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
No more long ATM queues or credit card hassles: Now punters can pay their way through a day at the races with their mobile phone thanks to the rollout of Clipp’s cashless technology by the Australian Turf Club.
The large-scale sporting outlet has become the first multi-outlet sporting venue in Australia to implement a cashless mobile payment application, which will allow users to pay for food and beverages via Clipp’s smartphone app. The rollout is part of ongoing efforts to transform customer experiences through technology.
Utilising the club’s multi-million-dollar point-of-sale system, from Task Retail, which was installed in early 2015, the application will provide the capability to examine the electronic record of all ordered items.
“Previously, we could only have a certain number of bar tabs on course during the day and we had to have credit cards over the bar with ID and sign-offs at the end of the day,” said the Australian Turf Club’s chief operating officer, Tony Partridge.
“Really, people were not taking advantage of that. With Clipp, people now simply show their mobile phone. They can see their tab going up in real-time, they can even leave the venue without closing it. We can now have hundreds, if not thousands of tabs running on any race day.”
The Australian Turf Club operates four sporting venues, and Clipp is in effect in nine outlets across two of those venues. Partridge explained the difference between the Australian Turf Club and a regular bar or pub is that it is a multi-outlet venue, so the business needs to keep a close track of sales and inventory purposes.
As well as the payment efficiency and customer engagement tracking benefits of cashless technology, Clipp gives the sporting outlet access to a detailed breakdown of the individual items purchased, which averages to about $10,000 a day in the off-season.
“This is a valuable tool for not only catering purposes, but enables us to learn more about our patrons and their spending behaviour,” Partridge explained. “In the future when they arrive, their favourite drink might just be waiting for them.”
The introduction of Clipp ties in with the evolving Club’s digital transformation and customer service strategies. The club’s digital transformation began prior to the cashless integration and with Wi-Fi, IPTV, a new point-of-sale, website and end commerce functions that are responsive, Partridge said.
“In a short space of time, we have gone from cash-only sales to universal card acceptance but we have gone one step further; now all you have to do is show your mobile phone using Clipp,” he said. “The race day experience is ripe for digital transformation and we are committed to using digital to improve the customer experience.”
The strategy, Partridge said, is to give people such a good experience they will share that with their network of family and friends.
“We are also about to launch a new lifestyle platform which will explain what is on at the races, it will have a fashion element and a social media aggregator connected to it – it will really be a platform that customers can engage with us pre, during and post any event,” he said.
“Racing lends itself well to social media, because there are so many times you will upload pictures of yourself and your friends on social media on the day, especially in a five-hour day, where there is only really about 20 minutes of racing.”
It’s no secret that racing is big business, and people spend big come race day. Partridge said the club’s financial institution estimated average spend per person is around $400-$500 .
“People have champagne breakfasts, they buy dresses, and if you’re selling over 100,000 tickets over spring carnival, that is $50 million worth of economic activity,” he said. “If we don’t know who those customers are and if we don’t have a way of talking to them over a digital platform, we can’t influence those purchasing decisions.”
The move towards going cashless is also set to give the Australian Turf club a competitive edge to other sporting venues, Partridge said.
“There aren’t many sporting venues where the event, venue and catering operation is owned by the Club so we think we have an advantage when it comes to embracing technology quickly for the benefit of customers, sponsors and the Club,” he said. “We are continuously looking for new ways to know our customers, acknowledge their support, monitor behaviour in real time and respond with technology-based service improvement.”
Clipp’s co-founder, Greg Taylor, said the technology allows the Australian Turf Club venues to monitor spending in real time. At the same time, it is also a great opportunity to tear down the barriers ATC had previously by allowing customers to open a tab without any money limits.
“As well as the obvious transactional benefits, including improved speed of service and removal of administrative needs to pre-book bar tabs, customers will also be able to host their guests in a social format in any area without having to go into a corporate space,” he added. “The flexibility is going to vastly improve customer experience throughout the racing calendar this year. We anticipate a substantial increase in volume across the yearly racing calendar of events.”
Having been successfully trialled over three race days, the cashless tab service will be a permanent addition to six bars at Royal Randwick and three outlets at Rosehill Gardens. Rosehill Gardens will see the addition of more facilities offering the service upon the completion of the renovation at the Western Sydney venue.