Why you need to capture the contact information for all of your ticket holders.
Over the Mother’s Day weekend I had the wonderful experience of visiting the museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts with my wife and daughter. Bethel Woods Center is located on the site of the original 1969 Woodstock Festival, a gem nestled in the Catskill Mountains and only 35 minutes from my home. Today it’s a beautiful multi-venue facility, covering 2,000 acres, including a 15,000 person capacity Amphitheater, a Museum, and an Event Gallery. As we toured the museum, the exhibits guided us through the history of the festival and the historical and social events impacting the decade leading up to Woodstock. As I sometimes do, I began to see a little satire and similarities between today and Woodstock. Advance tickets for the festival; “yes it wasn’t originally a “free concert”; were $7 for a one day pass, $13 for a 2 day pass and $18 for all 3 days. Pre-event ticket sales were 186,000, with the anticipation of approximately 50,000 – 60,000 people per day visiting the festival. But the 50,000 soon turned into nearly 500,000, and the influx of people brought traffic to a stand-still for miles and soon overwhelmed the chain-linked fencing surrounding the festival. Organizers used the main stage’s PA system to communicate important messages to the festival’s massive crowd while individual concert attendees posted hand-written signs in hopes of contacting people they came to the concert with, or re-connecting with people they met. One message, written in red lettering on what appeared to be part of a paper bag, read “SUSAN MEET YOU HERE SATURDAY 11 AM, 3 PM, or 7 PM Artie“.
By now you’re asking yourself, what’s all that have to do with those “Phantom Ticket Holders”? Let’s take this in a few steps. In today’s event world the average ticket purchase is approximately 3 tickets. During the ticket purchase process we only capture contact information (email, etc.) from 1 out of 3 ticket holders. Not bad for a baseball player’s batting average, but if you’re in the business of selling tickets and providing an exceptional fan experience, you are missing out on revenue opportunities and your fans are being short-changed on their total experience. The organizers at Woodstock were only able to collect revenue from approximately 1 out of every 3 attendees before they lost control of their gate and Woodstock became a “Free Concert”. Failing to capture data from every person who walks into your venue is similar to losing control of your gate. You have limited knowledge of who is at your event, how you can communicate with them, and with whom you can communicate. Lost opportunity! Lost revenue! You’ve spent all that time and money marketing and selling the event and your group sales team navigated through their spreadsheets and sticky notes to bring people by the car, van and bus load. You’ve done everything right to “fill the house” but the odds of engaging with over 70% of your audience is about as good as Artie having his message seen by Susan. Are you seeing the satire here?
Revenue in today’s market is determined by how much, or how little, data we collect from our customers. “What business doesn’t love big data? Knowing more about your customers (and potential customers) improves marketing—and ultimately sales”, according to Brian Mahoney, VP of Ticket Sales for The Shubert Organization, in his Blog “Telecharge and Big Data“. Capturing data from the Phantom Ticket Holders should be part of everyone’s strategic growth plan. It doesn’t matter if they purchased their ticket as a member of a group, through a secondary-reseller, or received it as a gift from their boss; if you don’t know who they are you can’t engage with them. Missed opportunities to promote specials. Missed opportunities to inform people of upcoming events. Missed opportunities to convert them into long-time customers. I bet Artie would have figured a way to get Susan’s contact information if they had smart phone technology back at Woodstock.
Resolving this problem is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Organizations have different technology capabilities, staffing resource’s, and budgets to deal with data collection. The key is having a strategic plan in place that effectively utilizes the resources you have, including the creative genius that lies within each of us. Some tactics being used today include:
- Using Ticket Transfers- to electronically transfer tickets to another individual. You can encourage this by promoting specials, discounts, upgrade opportunities and other items for each individual ticket holder.
- The Use of Digital Photo Booths- where people can have their photo taken at the event and emailed to themselves.
- Contesting- promoting concert goers to sign up via their smart phone for chance to win merchandise, tickets upgrades, or other items.
- Concession and Merchandise POS– capturing contact information at the “cash register”.
- Seat Check-in Via Social Media– encourage people to check-in via social media to receive discounts and various concert updates.
- Use of Group Ticket CRM– group department partners with group leaders to help promote the event, allowing each individual to book their seats through a shared site with the group leader.
- Roaming Brand Ambassadors– to walk the event, engage with people and collect contact information while providing a variety of information, promotional specials, and news on upcoming events.
The numbers are out there. The cost to engage with people on social media is $0. Over 50% of people are active on social media while at an event. It’s time to take control of your “gates”. Work as a team to develop and employ a strategic plan that captures all customer’s data AND have an active strategy in place to engage fans before, during, and after your events.
I’m not certain if Artie and Susan ever got back together at Woodstock. Just don’t let your data collection strategy be a paper bag sign, written in red letters, posted in a crowd of 500,000 people, in the hopes of “connecting”. You’re certain to leave the concert alone. What are you doing to capture the “Phantom Ticket Holder’s” customer information? Please share with us. We would love to know.