BuzzCard pilot program testing at athletic venues

SGA recently launched a BuzzCard pilot program at the Tech vs. UNC basketball game to test the effect on concessions sales with the added option of BuzzCard payments. After evaluating statistics from Auburn University’s student card program that showed a 50 percent increase in sales with the implementation of the card system, SGA decided to expand BuzzCard access at Tech’s sporting events as well.

“You use BuzzCard to get into the stadium and to get your tickets. Why not use it for concessions?” said Jimmy Williams, third year BME major and vice president of campus affairs.

“The ultimate goal with the pilot program would be to take it into the football stadium. Several of our peer institutions have had fantastic success integrating student cards and football concessions, both financially and in terms of student satisfaction,” said Kaitlyn Whiteside, second-year HTS major and committee chair of campus services.

The revenues in merchandise purchased with BuzzCards at the basketball game totaled to approximately $700.

“We ended up with a little less than expected in the turnout. It was ten percent of the students [at the game]. But… we don’t know what to compare it to,” Williams said.

SGA plans to pilot the program at all upcoming basketball games and a few baseball and football games. However, SGA is currently focusing more on the percentage of students at each game using the BuzzCard than the actual revenue.

The current concern is the source of the initial investments in permanent BuzzCard machines and the transaction fees. The BuzzCard office waived the transaction fee for the recent basketball game, but SGA hopes for the Athletic Association to eventually foot the bill using revenues from its partnership with Sodexo, Tech’s food service provider.

“The biggest obstacle right now is funding. The program is going to take an initial investment in BuzzCard readers to really get off the ground. Donald Smith in the BuzzCard Office was kind enough to loan us handheld scanners for the basketball trial, but that won’t be an option for the permanent program,” Whiteside said.

However, it is common consensus that the statistics are too preliminary to make any final investment decisions.

“The pilot project indicated that there was little if any measurable interest in using the BuzzCard at our concessions stand. Predicting pros and cons or future events would be premature at this time,” said Grant Reed, general manager of Sodexo.

SGA continues to press the results from peer institutions.

“We believe that this program will also increase revenue for the Athletic Association and Sodexo as Vanderbilt and Auburn saw enormous increases in overall student purchasing after their respective programs were put into place,” Whiteside said.

In the future, Tech looks to expand BuzzCard use as a debit card around Atlanta, initially focusing on the immediate vicinity. Potential locations for BuzzCard use include Moe’s and the MARTA, but the limitation is that the BuzzCard system is run by the institution, not an outside organization.