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How Should Touring Companies and Venues Collaborate on Data?

There needs to be more collaboration between touring companies and venues when it comes to data. But how should it work?

A frequent source of friction between venues and touring companies is: who has the right to the customer data that venues collect?

Venues and touring companies would benefit massively from working more closely together. Venues bring intimate knowledge of their audience base to the table, while touring companies bring knowledge about their productions and how best to talk to an audience about it. This benefits both parties, as enabling touring companies to improve their marketing will ultimately come back to the venues as well. But how can touring companies and venues negotiate the practical difficulties of collaboration?

1.     Venues should give touring companies access to audience data

Firstly, it’s a simple fact that no data should ever be withheld from touring companies if they have the customer's permission to have it. Venues can facilitate gaining this permission for touring companies by adding options in communication preferences for sharing their information. However it can be difficult and expensive for touring companies to collect and control their own data in a way that is useful for marketing and analysis, not to mention the need to keep it up to date and stored securely. Therefore perhaps venues and touring companies should be collaborating more on how to use the data, rather than each doing their own thing.

2.     Think about who the audience expects to have the relationship with

Some audience members will relate more with the venue whereas others (probably significantly fewer) will relate more with the touring company.  The challenge is to establish the preference in each case.  Regular attenders to a particular touring company’s productions are natural candidates who may enjoy a direct relationship with the touring company, and who could even become donors or supporters down the line.  It could also be worth exploring first time attenders – with some communication afterwards from the touring company to see whether a direct relationship may be desirable.  However in the case where the audience member is simply regular attender of the venue, without a particular affiliation to a particular touring company, then it probably makes far more sense for the relationship to remain between the audience member and the venue.

3.     Share standard audience insights

Venues should be providing good, standardised information about the touring company’s previous audiences, and their database in general.  Here are some specific types of report that will provide valuable insight:

  • A crossover report, showing where the audience of a show by a touring company may have overlapped with an audience of other productions at that venue. This has value when targeting potential customers for future productions.
  • A re-attendance report, specifically showing re-attendance for the touring company's past productions.
  • Regular event comparison reports showing sales for the current production alongside sales for previous ones.

If the venue’s system supports it, then they should schedule these reports to go out to touring companies automatically and on a regular basis.

4.     Spend time in front of the data together to work out how to use it

Armed with some insightful reports, the venue’s knowledge of their audience, and the touring company’s knowledge of their productions, both teams should work together, in front of the venue’s entire database, to work out the best way to use it.   Part of this process might be excluding customers where it’s been agreed that the touring company is better to maintain the relationship directly.  For those that remain included, the relationship should remain between the customer and the venue, and the approach taken with customers should depend on their previous booking behaviour across all of the venue’s booking history.

5.     Help touring companies to report back to funders & stakeholders

The venue should be able to satisfy the touring companies needs in this area more directly, for example by providing a report to a touring company that breaks down the data by geography, age (if they have it), and other demographics. Venues should be doing this better and in a more standardised way.

Touring companies should have access to all the data that they're legally allowed to have.  However careful thought is needed about who is best to hold the relationship with each audience member.  Data can generally be used much more effectively in the context of everything else that's known about the audience – and only the venue can hold all of this data – however there needs to be more collaboration over how best to use this data.

This post originally appeared on International Arts Manager.