Do you miss the goosebumps at the beginning of a concert when the lights go off and the public starts screaming? The tears in the eyes when the entire stadium listens to the national anthem before the start of a game? The standing ovation at the end of a Broadway show? I surely do, and I know that along with the fans and patrons who can’t wait to go back, there are many people whose jobs have been dramatically affected.
It’s hard to predict when venues will be running at full speed again, especially considering that fully reopening — safely — will likely depend on the availability of a vaccine (according to some health experts). Despite this, as the CEO of a blockchain-based ticketing engagement platform, I believe there are at least five opportunities for which leaders in the live entertainment space should start preparing themselves:
We are human creatures craving real human connections. Sure, you can have breakout sessions via videoconference, but from my perspective, you can’t replace the serendipity of in-person discussions at a conference. While I enjoyed streaming Andrea Bocelli live at the Duomo, the 25th anniversary of The Phantom of The Opera and Hamilton, I also realized that watching virtually can't completely replace the in-person experience.
Those online experiences (and others like them) are only exposing more people to the opportunity of live entertainment and will likely strengthen the demand in a post-vaccine environment. Even with the best streaming technology, you cannot replace the feeling of singing “Piano Man” live with Billy Joel and 20,000 fans in Madison Square Garden.
Accordingly, leaders in the live entertainment space should look at this crisis as an opportunity to take time to reflect on how they will engage with their fans in the future, to inquire about the best technology for their needs, to prepare their organization for a soft reopening before a strong and increased demand in attendance, and to plan for those scenarios in terms of human resources needs.
The coronavirus is accelerating the move to digital for many businesses in a variety of industries, and I've observed the live entertainment industry is no exception.
Whether patrons are buying a ticket, parking spot and merchandise or entering the venue and enjoying the show, the entire process can now be fully executed at the touch of their smartphones. From my perspective, embracing secure mobile technology is essential for providing a smooth and safe experience for consumers. (There are a number of companies out there, my own included, that provide these types of services.)
Adopting more mobile technology might sound overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Look for solutions that make the most sense for your business, and keep in mind ease of use, providing a seamless experience for fans and whether there are opportunities for increasing engagement in the tech you implement. These will offset any inconveniences in adopting new technology.
The “Great Pause” has forced all those who could to move online and reach broader audiences. I believe this could potentially become the model of the future for many venues and organizers. Live attendance will be managed with interactive seat maps, and there will be a separate fee for online streaming attendance only. (Think about the UFC model applied to theaters, for instance.)
Accordingly, leaders in our industry should develop new business models adapted to this new hybrid reality and reevaluate their customer journey to design unique experiences whether customers are attending live or online.
Data And The Secondary Market
Technology allows venues and organizers to know their customers better and engage with them more effectively. The ticketing secondary market has been profoundly affected by the pandemic, and the model of high advanced fees and even higher reselling fees is not sustainable anymore. Based on my observations, some venues are now looking at developing their own secondary markets. That has two main advantages: They will know their patrons better, and they will provide them with a secure and fair environment to resell and/or exchange their tickets.
It is time for leaders in live entertainment to really own and analyze their data so that they don't rely on third parties to tell them where their sales are coming from.
Companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter have already announced plans to have their workforce work remotely indefinitely. How could this be an opportunity for face-to-face meetings and live entertainment? Because when it comes to aligning teams, motivating people or engaging with customers, nothing will ever replace face-to-face interactions. I believe the more you spend time at home in front of your computer, the more you will want and need to see your colleagues, vendors and customers face to face.
Jeff Bezos said, “The true secret to business success is to focus on the things that won’t change, not the things that will.” While this crisis brings different opportunities, one thing that I think will never change is the need for human beings to meet face to face and to enjoy live entertainment together.
Although we don't know when, we do know people will come back to our venues at some point. Now is the time for leaders in our industry to motivate, train and align their teams. Help your teams visualize what the reopening will look like, brainstorm ways of enhancing patrons' experiences, and reinforce your values and your culture. We are an industry where people always come first.