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3 Things the Arts Can Learn from Uber

3 Things the Arts Can Learn from Uber

In the past 5 years Uber has grown into a $50 billion company, revolutionising the taxi industry across the globe. Whether you’re in favour of the company or not, technology is changing the way we live and it’s hard to ignore the success of companies like Air BnB and Uber, who have taken an industry and turned it on its head.

I booked my first Uber trip recently (I know, a little late to the party) and it got me thinking, what can we learn from such a successful business model? What has made Uber so successful so quickly?

As a customer I spotted three things that I think are key to Uber’s success and that can be used in an arts organization to increase audiences and make customers’ purchasing experience much easier:

1. Keep cash out of the equation

When you register with Uber you register your card details and the fares are charged directly to your bank account. For someone who never has any cash on them this is brilliant, I didn’t need to worry about whether I had enough on me, and as my driver pointed out, he doesn’t need to carry lots of cash which made him feel safer.

Uber have spotted a problem with the taxi industry and used existing technology to overcome this. Many of us are used to saving our card details with companies like Amazon and TFL, and with contactless payments now so popular this is a great way to make taking a taxi easier.

How to replicate in your venue:

Make it as easy as possible for customers to spend money at your venue. Whether it’s booking online, over the phone, at the bar or making a donation, don’t make your customers jump through hoops.

Take a quick look at your website. How easy is it to book a ticket? Do you charge customers to book online? Is it obvious how to make a donation? As soon as a customer has to invest time in working out how to use your website they’re not investing time in spending money on your site.

Card Holder Wallets are perfect for your regular customers and those signing up to renewable memberships. Once stored it’s super easy for a customer to book online or over the phone, with Continuous Authority they don’t even need to have their card on them.

2. Develop enticing deals for new customers

I signed up to Uber because they partnered with an event I was attending and gave new customers $15 with a promo code. What a great deal that got me to my event for free!

Uber also make use of powerful peer to peer marketing by offering free rides for the person making the recommendation and the new customer. This makes use of one of the most powerful marketing tools. We’re all more likely to listen to a recommendation from a friend than a stranger.

How to replicate in your venue:

Getting new customers through the door is hard, but there are two simple things you can do in Spektrix to generate more customers.

  • Keep an eye on your new email sign-ups, with the new Scheduled Customer List tool you can email them shortly after they’ve signed up and, if they’ve not booked, offer them a discount on their first booking.
  • You can make the most of peer to peer marketing by offering something like a ‘bring a friend for a £5’ offer. Using an X for Y offer and a promo code you can give current customers the opportunity to bring a friend along for just £5.

Don’t forget, once you get a new customer through the door, it’s important to look after them, and they might need persuading to come back a second time, so keep this in mind.

3. Be as transparent as you can

Taxis can be a bit baffling and I’ve certainly had many journeys where I’m not sure how much it will cost or if the driver is using the quickest route. This is even harder if you’re abroad and can’t speak the local language. Uber have made taxi rides completely transparent; they price journeys based on demand, and tell you before you book what the price increase is, if any. They tell you exactly how long it will take to get there and give you an estimated cost in advance.

This honesty and transparency means you will always know what you’re getting, and how long it’ll take to get it.

How to replicate in your venue:

We tend to take a trip to the theatre, concert hall or museum for granted when we work in the arts, but a lot of people really don’t know what to expect and even regular attendees can be baffled by ticket prices.

So why not help new audiences out by answering their questions in advance like where to park, what time to arrive, what to wear and where is the best place to sit? Even your regular customers might wonder why a show is more expensive on a Saturday night compared with the rest of the week, or why you’ve decided to make the front row cheaper than last time. Being transparent about this through your marketing, website and social media means customers will learn to trust you. Knowing exactly why a Saturday night is worth more will also make audiences spend more money.  


I can’t promise the three tips above will turn your organization into a $50billion business, but they are great examples of where we can look outside the arts sector to new businesses and pinch a few ideas that will increase income and audiences.