How Do You Value Your Business – Think Lean

How do you value your business? Number of staff? Total number of sales? Assets? A successful business isn’t just measured by figures alone, but how efficiently it can preform and still hit targets.

Take for example Tesla. The electric car company based in California has produced 500,000 cars since 2003 with 6,000 employees and a market cap of $34 billion. GM, on the other hand has a market cap of a whooping $155 billion, but 205,000 employees.

If we take a look at the revenue per employee figure, Tesla’s story is amazing – $2.7 million per employee. GM? $750,000 per employee.

Ryanair is another (their customer service is improving – seriously!) disruptive model that has an industry leading revenue per employee figure of $560,000.

Now I will admit there is a lot more to these companies stories than just these numbers, but there something really interesting here. Tesla and Ryanair are both disruptive – and highly efficient companies.

So how do they do it and what can we learn from them?

  • Innovative thinking (especially around efficiencies).
  • Automation where possible.
  • Outsourcing where possible.

Innovative Thinking

When you think of innovative thinking what comes to mind? That big great idea – like a screen only phone? But that doesn’t necessarily have to be the only type of innovative thinking. For Ryanair a simple, yet innovative idea for their industry was to only fly one type of airplane in order to be able to buy bulk parts and save on maintenance costs. While it may not be the sexiest innovation, it creates massive savings for Ryanair each year. Using your team, are there some simple, innovative efficiencies you can call to action in your venue or theatre?

Automation Where Possible

In the case of Tesla, automation came in the form of robotics. For Ryanair automation came from pushing the booking process online. For us in the arts and entertainment sector, automation can create a lot of efficiencies. Online booking, kiosks, mobile scanning, etc., all offer opportunities for automation. The critical factor here is that while you want to gain efficiencies in automation, you don’t want to alienate your audience. How can you improve your automation, and keep customer service in balance?

Outsourcing Where Possible

Outsourcing traditionally refers to where the labour is performed – e.g., outsourcing software development. In our industry, we might take a look at outsourcing from a different angle – crowdsourcing. Let’s take the idea of crowdsourcing design for example. You have an idea for a video trailer or ad you want to produce. Using a crowdsourcing tool, you can explain the concept, exactly what you are looking for and what you are willing to pay for the service. Designers then bid to work on your project. You benefit from casting a wider net – and adherence to a strict budget. Another example of outsourcing might the considering using cloud-based ticketing software rather than in-house servers. What will down-time cost you versus cloud-based software protocols?

These are some high level ideas – what tools are you using to innovate, and streamline your business?

Are Beacons Really The Next Big Thing?

Beacon technology has been around for a while. The UK is finally catching up, but will beacons help or hinder the ever critical customer experience? We look at what beacons are, how they might work in a theatre, venue or festival environment, and what it takes to get it right.

What are Beacons?

Beacons or iBeacons are proximity-based transmitters that can communicate with smartphones, tablets, wearables and the like. They use blue tooth technology and similar to NFC (near field communication) devices, can be used in a variety of settings. The beacons (like Estimote that lets you build apps along with it) “ping” to the nearest smartphone and can then deliver information, targeted marketing messages, etc.

Why are Beacons so exciting?

Proximity-based marketing and advertising has long interested marketers, for obvious reasons. The best time to trigger a purchase is getting the timing right. What better time to push a targeted message then when a patron is standing in front of your coming soon poster, or walking past concessions? But it is difficult to track every single customers path. Enter smartphones, tablets and wearables. While wearables are still emerging, smartphone penetration in the UK and Ireland is nearing the 60% mark.  This level of penetration combined with, how inexpensive beacons are for brands to purchase and install, (Estimotes are unobtrusive stickers), means beacons can be deployed quickly and cheaply. What’s more, smartphones now have all the inbuilt tech necessary to receive messages.  The barriers to beacons are very low.

The big benefit here is of course being able to send targeted messages, promotions and information exactly when a customer needs/wants it. But perhaps even more importantly is the ability to gather valuable data on patrons (with the caveat that it all in compliance with EU directives). This will give a much clearer and broader picture into the full patron experience.

In a theatre, festival or club setting beacons could be placed throughout. As patrons walk around beacons will “ping” their phone and allow them to interact with the information or message. This allows you to track the path of patrons and see what interests them. This information is essential in providing a richer experience for customers. This sort of tech also allows for a more content to be pushed at the right time. Beacons can also be attached to merchandise, giving customers more information or offers if required. Imagine festival goers passing a beacon giving them “up next on this stage” information, or patrons getting a reminder message about their intermission drinks.  Or when leaving an ice skating venue, a customer might get a message with a discount on their next skate session. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

However . . .

There is still an unknown quantity here and that is patrons themselves. Will they find beacons annoying or worse creepy? There has been much talk of the coming Big Data Backlash amongst consumers, will beacons be shunned because of this?

Beacons are really exciting. They give a real opportunity to engage customers in meaningful, new ways. Knowing how much is too much with beacons will be important, as will ensuring that beacons provide actual valuable content and not just marketing and promotion messages.

Companies such as Tesco and Waitrose are already trialling beacons, and companies such as Estimote make it easy for smaller organisations to try beacons for a reasonable price.

Have you considered beacons for your organisation? What do you think about beacons, are they appropriate for your organisation?

 

Saving Time and Money with Ticketsolve

If I hear the word “recession” or “crisis” again, (or for that matter, “rain” and “wind”) I will crack up. To be fair, given the current state of affairs, anything that is cost effective and cost efficient is welcome.

So how can Ticketsolve help you save time and money?

Ticketsolve is in the Cloud

We are a SaaS, or Cloud-based ticketing provider. Using a cloud-based provider means lower over costs.
– No upfront license fees
– No renewal fees
– No extra charges for support and maintenance
– No extra costs for modules etc.
– No installation costs
– No monthly fees
– No extra hardware costs
– No additional training costs

Speed

With Ticketsolve, implementation is on the order of days – not months. On average it take 2 weeks to complete a Ticketsolve implementation. For some clients we are able to get them up and running in a few days.

No more upgrade pain

About every two weeks, we release new updates and improvements to the system. These updates are a result of constant feedback from the community of Ticketsolve users. These updates are seamlessly deployed to the system with no disruption to you.

Network effects

The community of Ticketsolve users drive all our innovations. Bringing together such a variety of theatres, venues, sports arenas, festival and tourism attractions, means, we can innovate at a rapid pace. The network effect means that innovation is cost effective too, regardless of your industry or venue size. For example, mobile scanning and mobile sales features were a direct result of our close collaboration with our customers.

Programming, Sales, Marketing, Promotion, Offers . . .

There are a lot of moving parts to get a show ready for sales. Ticketsolve saves you time, because the system is rich in features that matter. That is an important distinction. There are lots of features that are “nice to have”, but what is key, is a system with functionality that is really needed and useful.

Ticketsolve is an easy to use, total box office solution. You can set up the programming, add on offers, create promotions, prompt for donations and cross sell, plus track the results. Our reports feature lets you look at the data as you need.

Is Ticketsolve going to solve the global economic crisis? Well, no. But we can certainly help you get value for money with a fantastic ticketing system that is easy to use.

Interested? Call us for a demo.

Top Tips For Running your Arts Festival Smoothly

Toby Smith, director of the Aegas Arts Festival did a fantastic list in the Guardian Culture Pro about his 5 Tips for Running an Arts Festival Smoothly.

Mr. Smith’s list focused on being bold and brave with the programming, accepting the weather, preparing for crazy, teamwork and being passionate about what you do.

I love this list for running arts festivals. And since we work with a number of arts festivals in the UK and Ireland, we thought we might add to the list, and give you more top tips for running your arts festival smoothly.

Let technology help not hinder

Technology can really help in every aspect of your arts festival. For example, with online ticket sales, your technology should be able to support discounts, memberships and cross selling, donations, multiple venues and shows. With the right ticketing software, you can support kiosk sales as well as mobile scanning at your event. Embracing technology as a tool will certainly help increase your sales and boost patron loyalty.

Great support network

For an arts festival (well any festival, event, show), great teamwork is absolutely key. As is the support network around that team. Surrounding yourself with the best people, best tools and best support team, will help you (most of the time) create a flawless festival.

Embrace the unexpected

This goes with out saying. If it isn’t the weather, it might be poor ticket sales, or an artist no-show or a problem with a venue – or all of the above. Embrace the unexpected and seriously – you will never be surprised!

Communicate

Communication. Sometimes I crave less communication (like when I purposely leave my mobile phone at home). For festivals, good communication, or rather targeted/good communication is critical. Again, technology can be a critical tool here. For example, arts festivals who use Ticketsolve have access to a powerful integrated email marketing tool. This tool, Mailchimp, can help you easily communicate with your audiences.

Go to festivals – not just arts festivals

I know you’re saying who has the bloody time for festivals! There is a huge difference between networking with people attending festivals, and attending those self same festivals as the average Joe. Maybe you go to loads of arts festivals already? Maybe you feel a bit jaded? Try one father afield for some fresh inspiration or a completely new type of festival.

Share

What I have always loved about the arts and festival industry is the spirit of community. People are always willing to share their insights, of what has worked for them and what hasn’t. I think we need to be even more unafraid of this – ultimately it will benefit the entire arts community.

What has worked for you in creating your arts festival? Share your thoughts here!

Why Theatres and Venues Should Consider Kiosk Sales

It is hard to imagine a time when ticket sales via a kiosk was the height of innovation. 20 years ago it was – people were finally used to cash machines, so buying a ticket from a kiosk was gaining in acceptance.

Today of course, kiosks are everywhere. From cinema tickets, to checking in at the airport, to buying furniture kiosks sales are ubiquitous. If you have not previously considered kiosks for ticket sales, some benefits include:

  1. Fast secure purchase and entry for patrons.
  2. User friendly.
  3. Can function as collection only or pay and collection.
  4. Seat selection option available on kiosk.
  5. 24/7 availability for ticket purchase.

In addition, kiosks such as Ticketsolve’s are completely integrated. This means you get a full set of data whether purchases are kiosk based, online or at the physical box office.

Do you currently have kiosks sales? Are you interested in learning more about kiosks?

Attracting Older Patrons to Purchase Online

I had the opportunity to speak to a customer today about their experience with Ticketsolve (very positive, which is great), but what struck me was when we were talking about their increase in online sales after joining Ticketsolve.

Interestingly, and perhaps as expected, their older audience members did not really engage with the purchasing online. They tended to just call the box office.

Obviously these are the results of one customer, in one region, with perhaps one specific customer set. But I wonder if this is the case for most older patrons – maybe they just don’t want to engage with online purchases.

Yet, back in April 2013, The New York Times reported that “Older adults hit a digital milestone last year: For the first time since the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project began conducting surveys, a majority (53 percent) of people over age 65 used the Internet. The proportion has since inched upward, to 54 percent.”

Granted this is data from across the pond, but the message is clear: older people are purchasing online, but are coming on stream much, much slower.

For this segment of the ticket-buying market, it would appear on the surface at least, that online purchasing would be beneficial for them. It is a way to get connected and get away from the isolation that many older adults can feel.

And it seems they will have little choice. More and more products are services are going online. Newspapers, yellow pages, you name it, it seems to be going virtual.

Thing is, older patrons are definitely tech savvy, but just might not be as adventurous online. Just read this Slate article from 2008 about what happens when old people go online.

So what might attract the older segment to purchase tickets online? Fairly straightforward actually – clear, simple and easy to navigate website that is secure.

Easy to Navigate websites ensure that older patrons get to the tickets they want easily. Making navigation too complex is likely to turn them off online tickets and head for their phone.

Easy to See websites that have easy to read fonts and a decent size will help older ticket buyers get what they need. Even coke-bottle glasses wearing folks will appreciate that (my glasses have been firmly glued to my face since 4th class – and ahem – age – is not helping matters).

Secure websites help older customers feel safer about purchasing tickets online. Since older customers might be less adventurous online (for example, my mother will not open a new website unless she asks me first, or is certain there is a “real store/theatre” behind it), it is important to create a site that is very secure.

Of course none of the above is “especially for” older ticket-buyers – this is something that all customers will appreciate.

Do many of your older patrons purchase tickets online? Do you have a specific strategy to attract older buyers?

Driving Customer Loyalty: Webinar update!

If you missed Ticketsolve’s latest “sold out show” – Driving Customer Loyalty, don’t fret! Our latest webinar on memberships is available on video – just email us at dmcallister@ticketsolve.com and we’ll pop it over to you.

Tuesday’s webinar covered:

How to set up memberships
• Benefits and Promotions
• Benefit Products
• Loyalty Points
• Online Presence

Managing Memberships
• Expiry and Renewals
• Communication to Customers

Reporting
• New and Renewed Members
• Sales Updates
• Reporting to Track ROI

Don’t forget you can customise the sign up/registration page for members and specifically target your customers. If you need help with this customization – let us know we can help!

Did you attend the webinar? Find it useful? How did you find setting up your loyalty program in Ticketsolve?

Want to find out about the next webinar? Register with dmcallister@ticketsolve.com and you won’t miss a thing!

Legal Challenge on Pricing of Disable Patron and Carer Tickets

The Stage has reported this week about SMG Europe venues standardising their pricing structure for their disabled patrons and carers after a recent legal challenge (read more).

SMG, which operates 10 venues across the UK came under fire recently when a York, Barbican patron claimed the pricing policy at the Barbican was discriminatory.

The patron, Doug Paulley, who is disabled, wanted to purchase tickets for the Bill Bailey show, but was told he would need to purchase an additional full priced ticket for his carer. He was told there was no possibility of a discount.

Paulley began legal proceedings, but SMG has since said that it would be investigating the matter and announced that it would standardise tickets across its venues. They have stated that where disabled patrons require a carer, tickets for a visitor and their carer would be the cost of one full priced ticket.

The Stage spoke to Chris Fry of Unity Law who represented Paulley, he said, “the case establishes a legal precedent in relation to ticket-pricing policies for disabled customers and their carers. By bringing his case, Doug has secured a change of policy, which not only affects this venue, but has a wide-reaching impact on sports and entertainment venues across the UK”.

Following Best Practices
While there is no specific law in place regards patron and carer ticketing, The Society of London Theatres and UK Theatres, suggests “when a disabled person’s access requirements necessitate them being accompanied to the theatre, [best practice is] that the carer go free”.

Regardless of how you address ticketing for disabled patrons and their carers, having a clear policy in place and good staff training is crucial.

Ticketsolve supports any pricing changes or policies you require. You can easily and quickly set up named price category and set the prices as you wish for each show and venue.

What do you think about carer ticket pricing? Do you need help setting up a unique pricing category? Contact us on +353 4100 647.

Want to Know How to Run a 10,000+ Attendee Event? (Hint: Get Ticketsolve)

The world recently celebrated New Year’s 2014. We here at Ticketsolve had a cracker of night working with 3NYE Countdown Concert (you can see the video of the event here).

For three years, Ticketsolve has worked with Davis Events – 3NYE Dublin – the main New Year’s event in Dublin- as the ticketing partner for online and onsite ticket sales for the Countdown Concert. Each year, NYE Dublin puts on a huge programme of events catering for all ages, culminating in a Countdown Concert for over 10,000 people featuring Irish and International acts eg The Strypes, MKS and Madness.

It was a massive undertaking, where Ticketsolve provided complete onsite box office sales and access control to the event through our latest innovation: mobile scanning.

An Epic Street Festival in Dublin

The festival Countdown Concert site covered approximately 2km, with three access points into the outdoor festival grounds. This meant, we needed to provide 3NYE with the ability to scan tickets from three locations simultaneously.

Event Controllers

Ticketsolve worked directly with Davis Events to understand exactly what they needed for online ticketing and onsite ticket sales and ticket scanning on the night. This ensured
smooth entry for event goers and fewer problems for the staff scanning tickets on the night.

Hand Held Scanners

Large outdoor events like this with multiple entry points, means hand held scanners were a must for tickets. Ticketsolve’s newest feature can be installed quickly onto any hand
held device, turning a smart phone into a scanner in minutes. Training the Ticketsolve 28 person team responsible for scanning tickets took about 20 minutes. Training included
how to deal with print at home tickets, hard printed tickets (issued from the onsite box office), as well as how to deal with ticket queries or issues. The scanning team were
spread across three access points and were outfitted with numbered event bibs.

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Communication and Reporting

An event of this size must have good communication between those on the ground, and management. The advantage of Ticketsolve mobile scanning, is that all scanning data is
uploaded to the Ticketsolve system and centralised. This allows updated reports to be generated every 20/30 minutes. Ticketsolve’s reporting is fully integrated and provides 24/7 access to data as and when needed. A variety of reports can be generated from Ticketsolve, and can be segmented as needed.

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Onsite Box Office

3NYE Dublin Countdown Concert like many others, have a large percent of “on the night” sales. An onsite box office was set up to deal with “on the night” sales.

Ticketsolve supplied eight trained people to operate the Ticketsolve box office system that operated on the night. These staff were responsible for all onsite ticket sales including mobile kiosk, chip n pin, quick sales, and cash.

From a technology point of view we needed to organise Wifi across the site for box office sales and mobile scanning. Contingencies were also set up in case of Wifi failure, which ensured that even if the Wifi went down, the box office could still make sales and the scanners would still be able to locally scan.

Paul Davis of 3NYE Dublin had this to say, “NYE Dublin is always a big event, but this year, it was going to be even bigger. Since we began working with Ticketsolve three years ago, they have never failed to deliver.

I knew Ticketsolve were the right choice. They have the know-how, innovation and understand what we need to do. Everything went smoothly on the night and the mobile scanning was flawless. We are looking forward to continue working with Ticketsolve.”

We hope you have recovered. We certainly have.

Need Ticketsolve innovation for your next big event? Give us a call, +353 1 4100647.

Woo Hoo! The Ticketsolve App is Here!

The Ticketsolve app for the iPhone and iPad is here! Get it free on iTunes!

Click here “shop iTunes store now” and you can see the Ticketsolve app in all its glory!

And now for a glamour shot . . .

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Manage and track your box office from your iPhone or iPad! So what do you think of the new Ticketsolve app? Let us know!