The Hidden Tax of Metal Detectors

How long would you say it takes to walk through a metal detector? Three seconds? It’s probably closer to three minutes actually – when you take into account emptying your pockets, opening your purse or bag up, and then sometimes walking back through a second time because you forgot to remove your belt buckle. And to add even more time, sometimes you have to be “wanded” or patted down because the machine keeps going off even after you swear you’ve taken everything out. For venues, all this adds up to long lines, frustrated patrons and the hidden tax of lost “time in venue” revenue – which could cause the concession stands to lose out on business. (After all, a three minute delay for 40,000 people translates to 2,000 customer hours that could have been spent inside the venue!)

But an even larger hidden tax can be attributed to the cumulative delays that you inevitably experience waiting for everyone in front of you to do the metal detector dance. You’ve seen the long security lines before – waiting to get into a concert, through the airport, etc. Those delays could last 20 minutes or over an hour, all depending on the speed of the people in front of you. Further, while it’s true venues are losing out on extra purchases that could have been made if patrons got inside faster, possibly even more taxing is the negative impact to customer experience and the overall brand.

Now, imagine if patrons could get into the venue many minutes faster – by simply walking through the entrance freely, without stopping, without handing over their bags and without feeling intrusion. What do you think is the first thing they would do? A good chunk of them would probably head right to a concession stand to make a purchase. According to an Oracle study, fans spend about $42 at a baseball game, but if they were to get into the stadium faster, that could mean an extra beer, hot dog or a visit to the T-shirt counter – equating to thousands of dollars per event! That same study found 59% of fans said they would spend more on concessions if wait times were shorter – that goes for wait time into the stadium too: If everyone gets into the stadium earlier because there are no delays at the gate, it increases pre-game time in the venue, which gives everybody more time to visit the vendors. This translates to shorter lines, because everyone’s not crowding into them at the last minute.

But What About Safety?

We’re not suggesting people revert to just letting fans wander into the stadium with no security check. We are suggesting, however, that modern weapons-detection technology (such as Patriot One’s Multi-Sensor Gateway) can actually do a better job at identifying threats than metal detectors, while eliminating delays at the gate. Embedded artificial intelligence (AI) can find and alert security personnel of concealed weapons, identifying exactly where they’re hidden (pocket, backpack, pant leg), so the person in question can be discreetly approached and addressed – no need to stop every patron for a virtual or physical “pat down.” This unimpeded entry can be used at stadiums, festivals, schools, office buildings and any other place where large crowds are expected to gather.

AI can also be used in conjunction with video surveillance cameras to identify crowd incidents inside the venue. For example, it can alert security personnel to “symptoms” of a fight breaking out, abandoned bags or packages, or any other anomalous event that warrants attention from security personnel. This is a far more effective approach to ensure security personnel are in the right place at the right time than the typical “state of the art” approach of having humans monitoring multiple screens of video feeds (where boredom and daydreaming overtakes even the best security pro), or simply having staff wandering around the venue.

Happier Fans with More Time to Spend

People attending large events want to have a great time, but they also want to feel safe. When the tradeoff for safety is long delays, it can significantly impair the fan experience (think about how you feel waiting to get through security at the airport). Because of beefed-up security following several violent events over the past few years, there have been some instances of fans waiting for hours to get through metal detectors and into a concert venue, and even missing some of the band’s performance. In addition to lost revenue from the time fans spend waiting to get through security, happy fans spend more money − and long security lines are not the way to get them in a spending mood!

When it comes down to it, from a business perspective, more time in the stadium means more money made. And getting fans into the stadium as quickly as possible, without sacrificing safety, is a win for everyone.