Five days, 250+ sessions, over 2000 attendees from the arts and culture industry and a whole lot of thinking, all in beautiful San Diego - TLCC2017 we had a blast!
Following a whirlwind week of travel, inspiring sessions and a first class agenda of events it’s become clear that TLCC2017 was more than just a conference - it was an experience.
As a Tessitura conference ‘newbie’ it felt like we were in the ‘Disneyland’ of the CRM and ticketing world - able to chat freely about memberships, gift vouchers, donations and TNEW (amongst other topics). What’s more, we were treated to performances by the choir and band renditions of famous songs remixed with Tessiturian* language (*Tessiturian - the name for a member of the Tessitura Network).
After getting over our jet-lag, sharing out our conference swag and reaching out to new friends and contacts across the Atlantic we were able to sit back and recap on the events of the week.
Transformation at the heart
The conference opened on Sunday with Tessitura’s President Jack Rubin giving the opening talk and formally launching the 2017 event in San Diego, California.
Ever inspiring, as Tessitura opening speeches tend to be, Jack started by talking about the evolution of the Network and it's now 591 strong member organisations across the globe.
“The network has disrupted the industry and changed it.”
- Jack Rubin, President, Tessitura Network
Talking about the theme of this year's conference ‘Transformation’, Jack went on to discuss the power Tessitura provides organisations with and how, if managed and utilised properly across an organisation, it can transform processes and success levels.
“Silo-busting is vital to powering transformation.. the transformative power of Tessitura as a silo buster, powering organisational wide collaboration and communication breaking through departmental barriers and enabling the ability of the organization to see and communicate with the full knowledge of the patron's history.”
- Jack Rubin, President, Tessitura Network
Jack’s speech resonated all too well with the After Digital team as transformation has become a consistent theme for our strategies, projects, and conversations over the last three years or so. Digital transformation has quickly become one of the hot topics amongst our clients, and the ethos of this ran through Jack’s talk - focusing on cross-team collaboration and ensuring processes and systems are consistently viewed and used to successfully attain objectives and goals.
Building TNEW Templates: A phoenix rises from the ashes
Tessitura’s Chris and Heather took us through their vision for TNEW’s upcoming launch of V7 and what it meant for users. From discussing the new simplified approach to building templates, outlining the new HTML structure and describing the Bootstrap/JQuery framework for development teams the session conjured many questions from the room.
During the session, it was announced that Tessitura Integration partners (After Digital being one) had been brought on board to support the V7 launch by developing customisable templates ready for implementation at the version launch.
Following the session, we took questions from the room and formally released details of our own After Digital template for TNEW V7. You can check out more details on these over here.
To round up our Sunday we joined the Neighbourhood Networking session set up by Tessitura.
This was a great chance for us to meet groups of users from grouped backgrounds, such as all marketing department teams or all theatre teams.
The session was a huge success and we spent our time talking to different departments, finding out what their plans were for the next 12 months and answering some questions they had around web integration and increasing ticket, membership and product sales online.
The V14 session offered insight into the imminent release of the ticketing software and was conducted by Tessitura’s own Anna Wessely. Anna enlightened the room to the new features and functionality expected with V14’s launch along with details on the upgrade process, with some helpful tools and tips to utilise Tessitura V14’s full potential.
Excitement filled the room when the following were mentioned:
- Opt in/out for specific communication channels
- Streamlined payment processes
- Fulfils DPA requirements for the UK
- Migration Toolkit to move data from the general tab or attributes
As usual, we had our own space in the Sponsor’s Lab ready to take on questions from delegates. There were many who actively approached us with interesting questions, whilst we lured others in with our Scottish goodies (shortbread, Tunnocks, gin and whisky - to be exact). We were met with various questions surrounding frustrations and queries that relate to ticketing in general but were also met with high interest in our in-house product T-Bridge.
Being a Tessitura Web Integration specialist for 10 years, After Digital has successfully launched a whole host of fully integrated Tessitura and TNEW websites - both in the UK and US. Through these experiences and in conjunction with the long-term relationships we hold with our clients we have been able to develop the T-Bridge product, which aims to enhance clients’ ticketing solutions. It sits between the client’s CMS and Tessitura/TNEW licenses to unlock additional functionality and features. The most common question we had was “what can it do for our organisation?” and the answer in a nutshell:
- Make administration less labour intensive
- Simplify up-selling and cross-selling of products and events
- Sync all data into one easy place to start sharing out with followers and customers
- Provide a more tailored solution to meet your needs.
Padres vs Phillies
On Monday night we joined forces with our friends from the Donmar to visit Petco Park and see the Padres take on the Phillies (in a game of baseball). Stepping into the stadium was an amazing experience… We took on the true tourist role and grabbed a hot dog, some popcorn and beers and settled into our seats to watch the game.
Being Baseball virgins we, unfortunately, didn’t do our research beforehand and didn’t realise the game could go on for several hours - which it did! Four hours later, we left a little tired and hungry but still had a buzz from the game (and the home run).
5k Fun Run
Tuesday started bright and early at 5.30am!!
Our team donned their running gear and headed out to the Embarcadero Marina to take part in the Tessitura 5k fun run (who said running was fun?). The trail, which was plotted along the Pacific Ocean, allowed for sights such as the USS MIdway, Coronado’s beachline and even the San Diego Symphony Orchestra’s Bayside Summer Night’s stage.
The run was a great way to begin the day and allowed us to catch up with new contacts and some of our clients. We were well and truly ready for a tasty cooked brekkie and coffee at the conference that morning before the sessions got underway.
Our team’s times (not bad for rookies):
- David - 24:29.8 (watch this space he’s aiming for 1st place next year!!)
- Ashleigh - 35:30.5
Using technology to drive revenue from your website
One of the top sessions this day was on increasing revenue on your site by utilising technology that’s freely available to you. The team shared tools and tips on how to increase patron engagement and subsequently increase revenue for organisations and venues.
At the session the team discussed the strategic technology that would assist internal teams this included:
- Search Engine Optimisation - we discussed organic SEO, mobile responsive design and SSL implementation to boost your site’s search result position. Great tools for this being Google Analytics, AdWords Keyword Planner and Search Console, to name but a few.
- Marketing Optimisation - this section focused on analysing your data to refine your marketing processes and identifying automation opportunities in your workflow (such as pre-scheduling social posts, emails and blog posts). There were numerous well-known tools discussed here such as Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Mail Chimp, Campaign Monitor, WordFly and more.
- Personalisation - the team discussed the need to engage with users by promoting content that accommodates their needs/wants on your site. Examples include developing a logged in view of your site where content displays based on user preferences and additionally segmenting email lists and sending out preference related content to followers to increase conversion. All simple enough activities that go a long way to making your audience members feel more valued.
For our team, who work with these technologies and tactics on a daily basis, this may not seem mind-blowing, but for those yet to adopt them, these could be real game changers.
Keynote: Powering Transformation with a Bold Global Digital Collaboration: World Ballet Day LIVE
When five of the world's leading ballet companies come together to produce content and attempt to engage with users you know you can expect something truly amazing!
The afternoon’s general session was based on the annual World Ballet Day LIVE event and detailed the conception, planning, content and participants involved in the 24 hour long LIVE stream across the ballet world. With speakers representing the US, UK and Russian Ballet movements the core management and planning team used the session to discuss the trial of video streamed content, how they measured engagement and conversion and how they planned to evolve the event over the forthcoming years.
“Whatever you plan to do, it should feel a little bit impossible.”
- Thomas Weitz, San Francisco Ballet
Tessitura’s Innovator Series Live
This year’s Innovator Series saw various industry innovators take to the stage to share their knowledge, experiences and successes with the conference.
Stanford Live - Chris Lorway (Executive Director) - With the focus on audiences Chris used his time to discuss how best to determine if your offering is matching user expectations. The key takeaway from this talk was that there is ‘no one size fits all approach’ and that you must optimise and utilise resources to continually engage with users. Examples included Stanford repurposing buildings and spaces on-site to enhance the patron experience beyond performances - opening their offering to new audiences.
Museum of Chinese in America - Nancy Yao Maasbach (President) - Nancy opened her session by asking: “Michael Wong, have you eaten yet?”
So who is Michael and why do we care if he’s eaten? Nancy explained that in this day and age most Chinese nationals residing in America have secondary familiar names such as Nancy, Michael and William. Whilst the phrase ‘have you eaten yet’ conveys warmth and caring vibes and suggests that for a short-term someone will take care of you.
So what has all this got to do with ticketing and knowing your members? Well, when Nancy joined MOCA she made it her personal mission to get to know members, partners, etc. In her first week alone she met 12 Michael Wong's but had no additional information about each of these Michael’s, which was misaligned with the museums objective - to tell the unheard stories of the making of the US and coupled with the Chinese immigration story.
“I cannot express more sincerely how Tessitura has given us the ability to think dynamically and to really grow.” - Nancy Yao Maasbach
Tessitura allowed MOCA to start learning about Michael Wong - his likes, dislikes, interests and preferences. It allowed them to store these insights intelligently. From these learnings the Museum was able to launch new initiatives and collections and start collaborating with it’s followers to really tell the stories and share the experiences patrons cared most about.
Party on the Flight Deck of the USS Midway
Wednesday night was the pinnacle point of the conference - the point everyone had been talking about all week!
At the end of the afternoon’s sessions, we all walked through Seaport Village and along the Pacific Ocean to the resting place of the USS Midway. Now a museum, the aircraft carrier was viewable the entire walk along the promenade, getting larger and more grand the closer we came to it.
We enjoyed a lovely food and drink reception on the top deck whilst being guided by some of the Midway’s incredible veterans who manned the carrier between 1945 -1992. The atmosphere was one of excitement (as we were soon to be treated to the musical delights of the Tessitura Band and Swing Band) but also slightly singed with an eerie-ness of the history and stories that surrounded us with the aircraft and corridors onboard the ship.
Following the band’s renditions of Somewhere Beyond the Sea, Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train, Blink 182’s All the Small Things, Cake by the Ocean by DANCE, our team headed to the lower decks to get geared up and fly some jets!!!
OK… well, not real jets...
One of the USS Midway’s top attractions within the museum is their flight simulators. The first simulator accommodates around 12 people and sees the riders take on the enemy in a simulated race against time to shoot down the opponents. The second suite of simulators are a little more hi-tech and accommodate two riders. These simulators were incredibly responsive and allowed us to fly, steer and shoot flying upside down and speeding up and down as if we were really mid-air. Thankfully no one had to make a grab for a sick-bag but we did come off the ride feeling a little dizzy (perhaps that was the fizz)!
With fuzzy heads we headed back to the conference on Thursday morning, sad at the thought of leaving sunny San Diego later that evening, but geared up for the final day of sessions and talks.
Our morning and afternoon were booked out with chats and demos, as delegates looked to make final contact before the conference came to a close. It was evident from the pattern in conversation that focus was now on TNEW’s V7 release and what organisations needed to do in order to facilitate the upgrade and make the most of its features.
We’d also done a lot throughout the week to promote and showcase our T-Bridge product. It was evident that groups had been discussing this after their demos and we were happy to demo some of the key features and functionality of the product and explain how it could be used to best achieve objectives on a client by client basis, whilst enhancing the capabilities of Tessitura/TNEW.
Bidding our friends, clients and new contacts farewell (well until Orlando!) we packed up and headed out into the sunshine for our remaining few hours in the US.
We grabbed a ferry in the 29-degree heat and sailed over to Coronado - a resort city in the San Diego Bay.
As we sailed away from the main city, the hotels and the USS Midway getting smaller and fainter, we began to recap on the activities of the week - who we’d spoken to and the interesting conversations we’d had around our V7 templates and T-Bridge product.
It had become apparent that the Tessiturian’s were looking for more support (especially on the upcoming upgrades) and that those in their infancy of using the software still didn’t have the full understanding of how to unleash the power of the API - something we were happy to discuss with them and share our experiences on.
Farewell San Diego - Hello Glasgow!
A few hours on the beach, a few tacos and a few burnt noses later, we headed back to the airport to begin our trip home.
The theme of the conference may have been transformation, but for us, it focused us further on the evolution of our solutions and how we can continue to offer organisations the best way to leverage the full power of the Tessitura API.
Interested in hearing more about our Tessitura integration experience? Find out more here.