Leadership / 05.26.21
AudienceView CEO Fowlie Gives His View on the Great Reopening
With more vaccinations being administered and restrictions being eased, the outlook for the second half of 2021 — in ticketing circles, at least — is looking up. Toronto-based AudienceView is certainly anticipating a brighter second half of the year under the leadership of CEO Mark Fowlie. In fact, this all-in-one ticketing, marketing and fundraising platform is eager to get everyone in its orbit ready to run.
“From the client enablement perspective, we’ve created and shared hundreds of hours of training and reopening materials, checklists, and content sourced from experts both inside and outside our organization,” Fowlie says. “We’ve also focused on empowering our clients to reengage and grow their audiences in this new normal. We’ve made it seamless for our clients to list their events for free, right from their ticketing software to our consumer communities like TheaterMania. We also created a self-serve advertising portal called AudienceView Campaign Manager to make it easier for all of our advertising clients to create highly targeted campaigns, and we’ve offered our software clients a significant discount for the advertising they purchase on that platform.”
Additionally, AudienceView has launched a variety of streaming solutions, most notably TheaterMania.Streaming, to help clients get their content in front of more people. Fowlie says the goal of the new platform is to “provide AudienceView’s clients — and others — an additional revenue source to help them bridge this time and supplement their earned revenue in the future.”
In the short term, AudienceView will be dealing with an issue so many other firms, venues and ticket sellers are experiencing. Limited seating capacities are in place in many states, cities and localities as COVID-19 lingers. How will such limitations affect AudienceView’s immediate business moving forward? Fowlie was quick to reply. “I think seating capacity limits will be short-term, but we’ve created tools and documented processes for our clients to make it easier for them to manage through this phase,” he says. “There is a clear ramp-up period that all of us in the industry are coping with.”
He continues, “Our goal is to support our clients at every phase of opening and provide solutions for them to engage their current and new audiences. We help them maximize their income by offering additional revenue streams, including making upsell in their checkout extremely easy, offering value-add partner solutions that increase their revenue per customer, and providing them with a cost-effective streaming solution to maximize their income per production.”
AudienceView is in such good position to support its clientele because it was proactive during the early days of the COVID-19 crisis in protecting itself. When the virus first hit, the company prioritized three things: 1) employee health and well-being; 2) operational continuity; and 3) business impact. For staff, Fowlie and executive management immediately supported working from home and focused on employees’ physical and mental health with resources and programs to support them.
“For our clients,” he says, “we focused on tools to manage immediate needs like mass refunds, tools and thought leadership on how our clients could keep their audiences engaged. We also leveraged our more than 7 million strong consumer audience to provide insight to the thinking of live event attendees with our series of COVID-19 audience insight surveys, and created our Giving Newsletter to highlight the opportunities to give to the more than 700 nonprofit organizations within the AudienceView client base.”
To mitigate business impacts, AudienceView temporarily furloughed staff and brought them back as soon as it was feasible. The firm also accelerated an already-planned product line consolidation and focused on upgrading close to 1,000 clients to more future-proof software platforms. “We are fortunate to have a client base that is in more than a dozen countries, both transactional and subscription-based, and representing a mix of both software and advertising buyers,” Fowlie says. “This has allowed us to be confident in the long-term viability of our company, but we have still had the most challenging year of my career.”
Fowlie went on to express his pride in the AudienceView team, calling them some of the “best thinkers in the business.” One of the biggest challenges he has faced as a leader during the pandemic was making the decision to accelerate AudienceView’s depreciation of the Vendini software.
“We knew this would be a big change for our clients, albeit to better software platforms,” he says. “It was also a significant internal challenge, as we needed to contract, train and upgrade close to 1,000 organizations in less than a year, while still maintaining our ongoing business. The ingenuity of our teams in finding ways to do this efficiently has set us up for future success with automated processes that will make onboarding for future new business a better and faster experience for our clients.”
AudienceView is seeing the rewards of that now with the more than 50 new clients that have signed with the company since the first of the year. This new business comes to AudienceView during changing times. Fowlie has seen the changes firsthand and believes some of them are here to stay. “Now that arts fans have discovered that there can also be joy found in watching their favorite performances online,” he says, “I believe that this will become part of the mix in their event decisions. I think we’ll both be competing for attention but will also see this as a tool to relive their live experience and to expand their audience beyond geographical constraints.”
Indeed, 76.8% of respondents in AudienceView’s audience survey indicated they are still planning to purchase streaming content post-pandemic. “So, I think this trend will continue,” Fowlie says. “I also believe some sort of health screening requirement will remain top of mind. We’ve seen with our clients — even those in areas with no formal restrictions — that the venues are maintaining precautions for the comfort of their patrons. Keeping health or safety questions as a step in the checkout and check-in processes has grown out of COVID-19 but may remain well after this has passed.”
“Finally,” he says, “moments like this usually create permanent changes in areas where solutions may have been available, but adoption has traditionally been low. We are seeing a significant increase in the adoption of digital ticketing driven by the changes in consumer behavior during COVID-19, both through ticket purchases that replace walk-up sales as well as entering the venue. We’re focusing on making this as frictionless an experience as possible for our clients and their eventgoers and see some great opportunities for continued innovation. In general, adoption of new technologies has been accelerated. Mobile payments, streaming, online commerce, contactless entry … the world has taken a significant jump ahead in technology adoption in the last 18 months. This opens the door for new and innovative uses for that technology, and we look forward to bringing those to fruition.”
You May Also Like
Want news like this delivered to your inbox weekly? Subscribe to the Access Weekly newsletter, your ticket to industry excellence.
Tags: AudienceView , Leadership