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Commercial Real Estate: Article

Wi-Fi, DAS and Entertainment Complexes

Leading-edge convention centers and entertainment venues will not maintain their position using trailing-edge technologies

The combination of Wi-Fi and DAS (Distributed Antennae Systems) communications technology is becoming a new intelligent amenity in many sports stadiums for enhancing the fan experience by having apps like Stadium VIP and others providing new services available at your fingertips through your Smartphone.

Just as we have next-generation Intelligent Business Campuses (IBCs) and Intelligent Industrial Parks being developed and occupied worldwide, another segment of commercial real estate is starting to evolve to its next generation utilizing intelligent amenities: the Intelligent Retail/Entertainment/Convention (IRECs) Complexes.

The IREC Complex is the next-generation campus that provides a layer of broadband connectivity as a shared intelligent amenity that the campus can provide to sophisticated consumers who want a richer experience using their smartphone applications as a way to purchase merchandise and services as they navigate within the complex.

What does this mean for the property owner as well as the venues within that property? The property owners can lease up space much quicker because they are offering more than just space to the potential tenants. They are offering intelligent amenities that can enhance the revenue streams of the tenant and provide them with more tools for success.

The Smartphone is not going away. If anything, smartphone adoption is growing at a double-digit rate. The convention, sports, entertainment and concert venues that adapt to provide new intelligent amenities geared toward supporting these devices and others can only ensure their viability into the future. The venues will provide their attendees with a much richer and in-depth experience to keep them coming back.

If this type of service is going to be part of the critical network infrastructure of an entertainment enterprise, senior executives better realize that no technology runs by itself. You need hands-on people who are very skilled in all aspects of planning, designing, implementing and managing these systems. This is very important, especially if you have a system that is also in place as a revenue generator for the municipality.

Multi-Venue Campuses: Resort Effect
When you have more than one venue within this network infrastructure, you have to focus on the extra layer of complexity that adding different venues would require.

Having one venue, like a stadium or theater, requires a certain level of expertise to design and implement a working solution. When you add several different venues (entertainment, restaurants and retail) onto one complex, the need to understand the interrelationships that are going on and the potentials for cross-selling and cross-marketing as well as the changes in traffic patterns and usage peaks is critical.

If done right, the wireless capabilities should create a virtual "resort effect" where the attendee (customer) does everything within the confines of the complex. There is no need to go outside of the virtual "resort perimeter." All purchases from concessions and merchandise to dinner and drinks are done within the complex's perimeter.

The retail tenants benefit by having this "resort effect" capture customers that they may not have gotten in properties that do not offer this cross-connect of businesses, venues and demographics. The pervasive consumer attitude becomes "why go further than what is offered here as far as restaurants and other retail offerings?" The municipality also benefits as it gains more sales tax revenues that may have gone to a neighboring municipality.

This type of concept as well as its related network infrastructure is right on the cutting-edge. There are not too many of these multi-venue campuses around - yet. As the growth of smartphones continues, these types of new venues will appear in more regions or at least in regions that understand the challenges of 21st century economic development.

The Importance of Apps
When you read about smartphone apps, many writers have come up with the "Top Ten" Lists or the "Must Have" Lists for apps.

The "Top Apps" will be an ever-changing list because people's needs are so diverse plus new apps are being created every day. An article from two years ago may list apps that are not even relevant anymore, let alone be a "Must have."

In order to be a "Must Have" app, there should be some type of reliability standard. Today, the quality of performance of an app is not guaranteed. What good is an app if it only works 50% of the time? If it is written up to be a "TOP APP," the reliability better be bulletproof.

As the multi-venue complex starts to become more common, a new set of apps will have to focus on cross-marketing, real-time demographic analysis, and the creation of a "virtual resort" architecture.

What could have been state-of-the-art two years ago in app technology is passé today.

That is why there are no real experts in this field because it is moving and reshaping very fast. The best you can be is a good student, always learning.

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Copyright 2012 - James Carlini

More Stories By James Carlini

James Carlini, MBA, a certified Infrastructure Consultant, keynote speaker and former award-winning Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University, has advised on mission-critical networks. Clients include the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, GLOBEX, and City of Chicago’s 911 Center. An expert witness in civil and federal courts on network infrastructure, he has worked with AT&T, Sprint and others.

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