An evening filled with delightful gin and prosecco cocktails at the ‘Cocktail Hour...and a Half’ session followed by a busy networking evening at Birmingham’s Pitcher and Piano bar - day two of the Ticketing Professionals Conference began bright and early with bacon rolls, coffee and the low murmur and chatter of new friends and acquaintances discussing the topics of yesterday’s sessions.

The day was, to begin with, a few shorter morning sessions coupled with a few longer talks in the afternoon all leading up to the closing keynote by the highly inspiring and motivating Dave Wakeman.

The check-out is changing

This session was taken by Catherine Spencer of Booking Protect and Eddie Robb, Managing Director of Edinburgh startup Make It Social.

Catherine initiated the session by discussing the checkout stage of the consumer journey and the key points required to successfully obtain a conversion.

Offering some pointers for the crowd Catherine outlined key points that assist in conversion management such as: ensuring the process is responsive, displaying a visual progress bar through the checkout steps, offering auto-login for customers with accounts, including checkout buttons at the top (AND bottom) of site pages, including credit card logos and security seals to communicate trustworthiness with data and offering guest check-out options for user who just want a quick seamless purchase.

Before handing over to Eddie, and in a bid to also look at the flip-side of successful check-out journeys, she later went on to introduce and discuss the key findings of the Baynard Institute - Study of Cart Abandonment. Outlining the top reasons that users commonly abandoned their carts at checkout stage Catherine stated that the #1 reason was found to be that the users were ‘just researching’ and weren’t intending on purchasing in the first place! Further cart abandonment reasons included:

  • Extra costs added at end of process
  • Site wanted user to create an account
  • Too long and too complicated a checkout process
  • User couldn't see total cost upfront
  • Website had issues
  • User didn’t trust the site with card details

Eddie followed Catherine’s presentation by stating that another key point in the checkout process is to allow users to share their purchase with friends/family via social.

Not only great for social sharing, Eddie went on to outline the other use his business has found for social during the ticket purchase process - ‘social booking’.

The concept - worth an estimated $870 billion - allows users to arrange group trips to shows/events utilising Facebook’s API to invite ‘friends’ to an event and book/pay for their own ticket whilst sitting together as a single group unit.

Currently developed to work with Ticketmaster and another smaller ticketing solution Eddie further exclaimed that ‘social booking’ had increased average ticketing sales from 2-3 tickets per transaction to 6-7 tickets - showing around a 50%+ increase in sales. Not only this but research has resulted in 65% conversion rate in social invites relating in social bookings via this process.

There’s no doubt that Facebook, Twitter etc. are here to stay, but questions around the API’s continual updates and versioning led many to ponder how easily it’d be to switch this sort of functionality on/off and revert back to more traditional means in the future (should Zuckerberg update the API significantly without warning) requiring social booking apps/software to be upgraded and further evolved alongside the platforms.

To share or to serve? Ticketing consortia – which way?

Following lunch on the second day I joined the talk focused on the consortium model hosted and delivered by David Pearce of the Welsh Millennium Centre and Jonathan Saville of the East Midlands Ticketing Network.

With a show of hands at the beginning of the session it was clear that many venue representatives in the room were interested at the prospect of joining or initialing a consortium of their own and were busy taking down notes and asking questions throughout the session.
Both Jonathan and David took it in turns to explain their own specific consortium models - the good, the bad and the ugly!

It was clear that they wanted to give attendees of the session a transparent view of the structure in order to determine if it really was the best fit for their organisation.

For those unfamiliar with the consortium model it’s essentially one venue purchasing and owning the license for the software whilst other venues ‘hook’ into it - the benefits being that they don’t have to find full budget to make use of high-class ticketing solutions and can share their learnings, as well as develop and evolve from the experiences of those other organisations too.

Having worked with clients such as the Wigmore Hall, Venue Cymru and London Philharmonic Orchestra (all who have undergone web integrations as part of their own consortiums) After Digital is fluent in the varying touch points required in set-up, integration and issue resolution common in such partnerships.

Wondering if the consortium model is for you? We’d be happy to discuss more with you and offer our advice.

Here’s an overview of the advantages and challenges you’re likely to face:

Advantages

  • Collaboration with venues in the consortium - potential to create project groups and learn from others’ experiences
  • If the server goes down, in some cases, you can make use of one of the other venue’s servers until your issues are resolved
  • Shared costs - this is the biggest advantage for many, as they may be unable to afford the software alone. Sharing costs also expands across other areas too, such such as implementing new tools or employing a consortium manager or secretary
  • Potential for greater audience insights by pulling data or marketing campaigns
  • Although part of a consortium model and sharing software each venue still has a closed login area - no other venues in the group can access or make changes to your data
  • You’ll be welcomed into a fully hosted environment - so any upgrades or maintenance required on the software will be managed and paid for by the license holder unless otherwise agreed

Challenges

  • It's not a service provision - so you still need to manage and administrate the software for your own organisation
  • There’s often duplicate data in the system, therefore it’s important that consortium venues work together to agree processes and activities
  • Moving to the system from a legacy platform often means formatting of data and cleansing records can be time consuming
  • You need to work as a team, whether you like it or not - there are advantages in this but it can often be time intensive meeting up with the group on a regular basis and planning for the future of your consortium’s strategy
  • There needs to be a clear shared vision and strategy

Closing Keynote - The Future is Live

The closing keynote was both motivating and inspiring - leaving delegates ready to take on the world!

Dave Wakeman a Revenue Architect from US based Wakeman Consulting Group took on the final hurrah of the day - and didn’t disappoint. With clients such as American Express, Yahoo and the United States Department of State, Dave included a wealth of real life examples and situations into his presentation coupled with Star Trek memes and comedic puns.

The focus of the talk was on building relationships with individuals and that in order to do this effectively we should use stories that evoke emotion and empathy in customers.

"Emotion will get people to act and this may lead them to buy"

- Dave Wakeman

Not only should we be conscious of creating emotion but also aware of the fact that customers are looking specifically for ways to improve and increase the value of their own existence - so they’re after solutions and experiences which save them time and add quality and meaning to their lives.

"People want to been seen to influence and drive ideas - they desire to be heard or part of something.. something more"

- Dave Wakeman

Dave then went on to explain that as influencers and idea creators individuals tended to group into communities - where they hoped to lead and inspire. He mentioned that our best communities become focal points for discussions and storytelling and that finding these communities for your brand or organisation was like gold-dust. They want to share your story and the experiences they have with you - so best that venues or organisations search and reach out to these groups. Not only that… when you do reach out to them ‘Surprise and Delight’ them and give them that +1 customer service that enhances their existence and therefore inspires them to be your advocates, share your service and develop a loyalty to you.

With this in mind, the focus of the presentation shifted from creating relationships with stories to ensuring you maintain the ‘human’ element when telling stories or interacting with your customers. Dave mentioned the fact that we feel unable to make decisions without data (to back up our actions) but that we’ve ended up with so much cold, raw data that we’re now unable to make a true decision on how best to optimise what it’s telling us.

"Data = analysis over emotion! So it doesn't allow us to connect with people"

- Dave Wakeman

To conclude the talk Wakeman reiterated one of the key themes of the conference:
"‘None of us are selling tickets or memberships - we're selling experiences" - Dave Wakeman

He further expanded to state that experiences need to be continuous, consistent and compelling to keep communities and influencers engaged.

So, at the end of the conference, it was clear what everyone in the room had to do - create human connections and experiences that people talk about for years to come!

If you have any questions about your online ticketing, we’d be happy to share our experience. Check out some of our work here or drop us an email.