After two years of absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Spektrix team were finally able to return to the Ticketing Professionals Conference in 2022, this year held in Birmingham. We were so grateful to the organisers for welcoming us as a sponsor of the event, and we were very excited for the opportunity to contribute to the ‘Theatre and Live Entertainment’ strand of the programming. For Ben Park, Global Head of Marketing and Communications, getting together in person again is a really valuable chance for Spektrix team members to listen to and engage with members of our sector about what matters most to them. Hearing our peers, users and partners discuss the challenges facing the sector together helps to inform our own strategy in meeting those challenges and providing the best support possible to our users. After such a productive conference full of insightful tidbits and inspiring stories, we’ve asked some of our team members to tell us about their favourite bits.
For Brooke Gallagher, Head of Community and Events, it felt like getting together in person again to share and learn was exactly what the entertainment sector needed. After years of not seeing industry colleagues, it was wonderful to reconnect with so many people in one place. Brooke was surprised to walk away feeling energised rather than overextended, which is what one might expect after spending two years away from large events of any kind. And this sense of connection led to some great off-the-cuff moments: during a session on ‘Influencing Upwards,’ Roddy Gauld, CEO of Octagon Theatre in Bolton, spontaneously asked a packed out room of people whether any of them felt like they weren’t very good at their job sometimes (aka Imposter Syndrome) and the entire room raised their hands in response, including Roddy himself. It was a spontaneous moment of genuine connection, and it brought everyone together in a matter of seconds.
As an event programmer herself, Brooke knows it can be a difficult task for speakers from ‘outside’ our industry to align their insights and experience with ours in a way that makes a real impact on the audience. In a session focused on using chatbots for customer service, Rosie Bailey, CEO of price negotiation chatbot tool Nibble, caught people’s attention with a simple demo of what it might look like for audiences to be able to negotiate ticket prices and add ons via a chatbot rather than hunting for a discount code or simply not purchasing. It turned out to be a very interesting take on how a company might offer something alternative to discounts, codes or offers that might leave an audience member feeling really positive about their purchase - like they had really ‘won’ something.
Brooke also really appreciated the useful strategic takeaways from the panellists in the ‘Diversity and Inclusion in Recruitment’ session, but she particularly enjoyed an operational idea shared by a Spektrix user in the audience. Their organisation uses Spektrix to allow job candidates to book themselves onto group interview sessions, ensuring a smooth and welcoming experience for the candidates while also reducing manual administrative work for the organisation.
For Allison Wheeland, Marketing and Communications Specialist for Design and Visual Identity, the emphasis that the conference placed on themes such as diversity, sustainability, and accessibility was particularly interesting - and she was encouraged to see how much these themes all played into one another. An accessible website with appropriate alt text on imagery is likely to be more SEO-friendly, just as an SEO-optimised website is likely to be less slow to load and therefore generate a smaller carbon footprint. Time and time again it seemed as though this connection rang true through numerous talks, from the ‘Digital Sustainability’ talk given by Jen Pearce of Unicorn Theatre and Kate Mroczkowski of Supercool, to the ‘Ticketing Usability Pitfalls’ talk given by Chris Unitt of One Further, to the ‘How Accessible are Your Emails?’ talk given by Caspian Turner of Accessible by Design.
Allison was particularly impressed by the talk ‘Neurodiversity and Breaking the Barriers to Engagement’, given by Bethany Steventon-Crinks of Birmingham Repertory Theatre. The talk outlined different models of disability, emphasising the importance of understanding that it is society’s role to meet the needs of disabled people, not the other way around. Bethany offered lots of invaluable insight on how venues could best meet the needs of disabled visitors, the most important takeaway being that information is key. An organisation that ensures their website contains detailed information about the logistics and sensory experience of visiting their venue is already helping disabled people make a better informed decision about attending an event. Bethany also provided many interesting examples of additional measures that venues could take to make their disabled guests more comfortable, and the talk fostered a wonderfully open and engaged discussion during the Q&A session at the end.
Paul McGuinness, Head of Client Relations for the UK and Ireland, was delighted to see the determination and resilience of people in our sector coming through in so many of the sessions that he attended. He particularly enjoyed the insights that Rebecca Molloy of Bristol Old Vic shared about what she has learned from influencing upwards and the importance of persistence when it comes to what is important to you. He loved hearing about the amazing work that Jen Pearce and her colleagues at Unicorn Theatre have done to make their organisation more sustainable. Caroline at Chichester Festival Theatre also shared the work they have been doing to plant trees with their audiences. Both vital efforts in response to the ongoing climate emergency, and the fact that they have continued these efforts amongst the incredible challenges of last year was particularly impactful for Paul.
Liv Nilssen, Global Sector Strategy Lead, was impressed with all of the creativity, innovation and resilience on display. For her, it was very inspiring to hear stories from all over the sector that were not just about getting through the pandemic, but also about embracing new ways of working. It was also impressive to see the commitment that each vendor displayed to ticket buyers and audiences; one of the key themes of the conference seemed to centre on understanding the consumer and making websites, calls to action, purchase paths and prices work for them.
As online purchasing becomes dominant - and the data that we’ve gathered here at Spektrix suggests that online purchases now make up 70% of transactions - it is great to see all of the creativity that is going into making the online purchase path exceptional and lucrative. The suite of tools on offer to help organisations create a positive online experience was also something to behold, and we were encouraged to see the strides made by our partner network to help deliver on the creative approaches of ticket sellers.
It may be the effect of two years with limited benchmark data, or the impact of rapid inflation, but pricing was high on the agenda. Senior Marketing & Communications Manager, Bryony Bell reflected on multiple discussions presenting price as more agile than ever - though whether or not that was a good thing remained open to (heated) debate. Robin Cantrill-Fenwick of Baker Richards opened the conversation by weighing the pros and cons of dynamic pricing in an interactive ‘trial’. Greg Loewen of Digonex asked to what extent price should be automated, and where human intervention has a part to play, first in his own session and later alongside a debate panel including our own Global Sector Strategy Lead, Liv Nilssen, and other experts. Rosie Bailey sparked still more competition by challenging her audience to negotiate the lowest ticket price with her pricing chatbot, Nibble; and Stefano Curti of Il Rosetti in Trieste explained how flexible subscriptions built loyalty by charging not in Euros, but in stars. We’re not sure those present reached a consensus, but we look forward to continuing the conversation!
With TPC behind us, we’re looking forward to the next events that we are sponsoring: the Arts Marketing Association’s Inclusivity and Audiences Day on 12 May, as well as their main conference in July, this year’s edition of which is entitled ‘A New Adventure’. If it’s anything like TPC, it’s sure to be an adventure indeed.
Find out about our other events:VISIT THE Events PAGE
Ben Park is the Global Head of Marketing and Communications at Spektrix.