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The Future of CRM & Ticketing: A Culture Republic Event

Earlier this month, The Future of CRM & Ticketing event by Culture Republic took place in Glasgow, and I ventured up with our Head of Business Development Ben. Culture Republic offers support for Scotland’s arts and cultural organisations and are experts in audience development, digital insights and marketing communications. The event was looking at how we can use technology to relate and communicate - focusing on the importance of integrated, quality data alongside good processes and well chosen technology. Roger Tomlinson (Ticketing Institute) was Chair, and supplementing the speakers of the day, were roundtable sessions from companies from within the cultural sector. Each session was so valuable and had some important points to take away and consider.

‘What do we know about system use in Scotland?’

Culture Republic focus on building networks north of the border, and have a unique insight into the arts landscape within Scotland with 10 years worth of data at their fingertips. Julie Tate, chief executive at Culture Republic, kicked off the first presentation, where she explained more about Culture Republic’s approach. They look internally at the assets of arts organisations, diving into audience data to allow arts organisations to find out who to engage with. They also consider when and how to engage with them to maximise success.

Some of this data is quite revealing. I was surprised that only 44% of arts organisations in Scotland offer online booking, so it seems there is still work to be done around system usage and embracing the digital age.

Aberdeen Arts: How applied data works for them

After the morning session, it was encouraging to see a great example of data being used in the presentation by Andy Kite from Aberdeen Arts.

Andy spoke about how their data is being used across the organisation, including playing a part in programming decisions. They’re using their data to identify where the gaps are in the artistic programme, and then adding in new events that the data has shown is popular with their audiences. This has proven to promote re-attendance and is a fantastic example of data-driven decisions.

Aberdeen Arts also use their data to identify what their 'unusual suspects' might actually be persuaded to book. Audience profiling and crossover reports allow them to identify who these audiences are and what they might be likely to convert to. They then make sure that they use the knowledge of these audiences to market to them successfully, amending images and copy so that they’re appealing to the relevant segment of the audience. They’ve seen success here moving bookers from music events to comedy and vice versa, and have experimented offering some free tickets to encourage these bookers to try something a little different, and then use this as an opportunity to gather research on how this shift to a new genre was received.

Roundtable surgery sessions

Credit: Culture Republic

At the event, there were two short roundtable surgery sessions. Ben and I ran a roundtable workshop looking at membership schemes and the vital role CRM plays in successful schemes. The sessions were full of discussions around the pitfalls of various membership and loyalty schemes. A recurring theme was that often the language used by cultural organisations to talk about memberships is not very accessible to external parties and so perhaps more work needs to be done around the messaging of membership schemes.

The most successful memberships schemes seemed to be those that had benefits that customers genuinely want, which don’t eat into the bottom line and can quickly and easily be sold by well informed front line staff.

Credit: Culture Republic

AD’s approach to digital

Steve Plummer from the digital agency AD showcased some recent case studies and talked about their approach to digital. Steve talked about the importance of a user-centric approach and thinking mobile first. Getting the purchase path right for customers booking on mobile prompted much discussion in the group and there was some frustration at the limitations at some venues, especially around seat selection. It seems like the best approach here would be to offer mobile bookers the option of best available and seat selection.

The session closed by stressing how we can’t hide from measuring success in a digital way. We now live in an age where everything is reportable and measurable and we always want to know the ROI.

Credit: Culture Republic

The Internet of things

The day came to a close with a presentation by Patrick Hussey who unsettled the room, albeit with impeccable comedic timing, with an introduction to The Internet of Things. The Internet of things is the idea that the Internet will go on to exist beyond the screen and that everyday objects will soon have the ability to receive and transmit data. This is very close to happening with sensors and iBeacons and Patrick explained how close this is likely to become reality.

It will be interesting to see how this can be applied to the arts, both as a way of marketing and also as a way of enhancing the artistic experience, as has already started with the Cooper Hewitt pen.  

Credit: Culture Republic

The event concluded with networking drinks on the roof terrace of the recently redeveloped Theatre Royal. We had lots of interesting chats with some of the Spektrix community including MacRobert and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. A common theme throughout these conversations was how much they all value their relationship with Culture Republic. There was a real sense of teamwork and it was obvious that Culture Republic have a great relationship with the cultural institutes that they support.